One of the Justices of the Supreme Court arrested by the Department of State Security (DSS), Justice John Inyang Okoro, has accused the Minister of Transport, Mr. Rotomi Amaechi and the Akwa-Ibom state governorship candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the 2015 election, Chief Umana Umana, for his ordeal.
In a letter he wrote to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, on Monday, Justice Okoro said that he strongly believes that his travail is not unconnected with what he told the CJN on February 2016 about the two men’s visits to his house.
He reminded the CJN about the verbal report he made to him on the visit to his official residence by Rotomi Amaechi, former Governor of Rivers state and (current) Minister of Transportation.
He said in that report, he told the CJN that Mr. Amaechi told him that President Mohammadu Buhari and the APC mandated him (Amaechi) to inform Justice Okoro that they must win their election appeals in respect of Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Abia states “at all costs”.
According to Justice Okoro, Amaechi alleged that he sponsored Mr. Umana Umana, the candidate of APC for that election and that if he lost the Akwa Ibom state appeal, “he would have lost a fortune”, adding “that Mr. Amaechi also said that he had already visited you and that you had agreed to make me a member of the panel that would hear the appeals. He further told me that Mr. Umana would be paying me millions of Naira monthly if I co-operated with them.
“My response, as I told you on that date was that it does not lie within my power to grant his request and that I would do all within my power not to be in the panel for Akwa Ibom state. My Lord
graciously left me out of the panel for Akwa Ibom State. That notwithstanding, the All Progressives Congress in Akwa Ibom State which lost the appeal at the Supreme Court believe that my presence in the Supreme Court made them to lose the appeal.”
He wondered why he was accused of being responsible for APC losing the appeal in the apex court even when he was not in the panel that adjudicated the case, asking rhetorically: “Could I have resigned from the Supreme Court simply because people of Akwa Ibom State had a matter before it?”
He alleged that Mr. Umana also visited his residence before Amaechi’s visit and made the same request of assistance to win his appeal at the Supreme Court.
Justice Okoro accused Mr. Umana of talking about “seeing the Justices who would hear the appeal”, affirming that “up till now, I do not know what I have done”.
The embattled Justice made a strong avowal of his innocence: “Over the years, from the Magistracy till date, I have done my best to eschew all forms of corrupt practices.
“I have not received any bribe from anybody. My Lord is quite aware of my position as regards those who take bribe in the judiciary. I detest it and have no room for any adjustment. That is the truth.”
He urged the CJN and the National Judicial Council (NJC) to disregard all the lies and media campaign orchestrated by those who felt he purposely refused to help them win their election appeals in the Supreme Court.
Justice Okoro expressed confidence that God would vindicate him at the end of his ordeal, affirming that he took his encounter with the DSS “as a temporary set-back”, saying he remains loyal to his oath of office and “the need to be just and fair in handling matters before me”.