by Ugochukwu Nnamdi Ukamba
So politicians walked into His Lordship’s home, offered him a bribe to secure his assistance to influence a decision that might be assigned to him and His Lordship’s best response was ‘it doesn’t lie within my power to grant your request’. The law resides in His Lordship’s bosom and His Lordship knows or ought to know that the alleged conducts of Rotimi and Umanna amounted to criminal conducts contrary to sections 98A and 126 of the Criminal Code Act.
I had seen Hon. Justice Inyang Okoro’s letter to His Lordship, Mahmud Mohammed, Mahmud Mohammed, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) and decided to ‘unlook’ because I try to restrict my engagement on social media to discussing issues and not people.
A good friend tagged me on a thread that was discussing the issue ostensibly to get my attention and perhaps elicit my opinion which she had considered ‘pedestrian’ on another thread discussing the DSS actions. I am not afraid to offer pedestrian opinions because one day those opinions will mature and ‘take flight’.
His Lordship’s letter raises some concerns that I hope we have, shorn of our emotional and political reactions, directed our minds to. I do hope His Lordship sought the opinion of Counsel before writing or dispatching that letter because, unwittingly, he appears to have shot himself in the foot -I think he may have shot His Lordship, Mahmud Mohammed, the CJN also.
- How has His Lordship carried himself in the discharge of his judicial functions that politicians are comfortable enough to sit with him to openly discuss the prospect of rigging the decisions of the Supreme Court? First, Mr. Rotimi came to His Lordship and thereafter Mr. Umana, in the presence of a ‘Pastor’, offered gratification. (or was the visit the other way round?)
Maybe I am a little old school but I know that before now, it was unheard of that a judicial officer would be found in the same vicinity as a litigant (or person remotely connected to the litigant) in a pending litigation.
Except His Lordship is suggesting that politicians routinely visit all his other learned brothers to discuss pending matters, I don’t see how that is a brilliant excuse for his current travails.
- So politicians walked into His Lordship’s home, offered him a bribe to secure his assistance to influence a decision that might be assigned to him and His Lordship’s best response was ‘it doesn’t lie within my power to grant your request’. The law resides in His Lordship’s bosom and His Lordship knows or ought to know that the alleged conducts of Rotimi and Umanna amounted to criminal conducts contrary to sections 98A and 126 of the Criminal Code Act. The punishment in each of those sections are 7 years each. Had His Lordship complied with the provisions of our law and arrested (or caused to be arrested) the named politicians, the courts would have been able to try and sentence them appropriately. Our country would have been rid of at least two corrupt people for at least 14 years. No, His Lordship decided to ‘unlook’.
- His Lordship said Mr. Rotimi also told him that he (Rotimi) had spoken with the CJN and that the CJN had agreed to make His Lordship a member of the panel that would hear the appeal. Inherent in that statement is the fact that Mr Rotimi has the power to influence the CJN’s decision. If Mr Rotimi was offering His Lordship money to get His Lordship on Rotimi’s side, would it be a far stretch to assume that Mr. Rotimi also offered the CJN money and perhaps the CJN accepted seeing that, according to His Lordship, the CJN had already agreed to do Mr. Rotimi’s bidding?
- According to His Lordship, after this invidious attempt by politicians to ‘hijack’ justice, His Lordship only made ‘a verbal report’ of the incident to the CJN. Perhaps, over a light banter at dinner. We should all be collectively worried that a Justice of the Supreme Court (the final court of the land, the court with powers to uphold a death sentence on a human’s life) does not think that an incident, such as the grave allegations he has just made, is worthy of a formal petition to either the CJN or relevant law enforcement agencies. We should be more worried that these incidents allegedly happened in February 2016 and we are only just hearing of it in October -we perhaps would never have heard of it if His Lordship is not going through the present travails.
- The, not-so-minor, reference of His Lordship to Mr. Rotimi trying to influence the outcome of the election appeal emanating from Abia State ‘at all cost’ is also very curious considering that Mr. Rotimi’s party wasn’t even part of the Abia Poll. Perhaps this was a freudian slip.
Again, I do hope His Lordship sought legal counsel before writing this!
P.S: This is not written in defence of any politician but merely to draw out factual issues that have arisen from His Lordship’s letter.
Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija
Ugochukwu Nnamdi Ukamba is a Legal Practitioner based in Lagos. Hetweets @NnamdiUkamba