The All Progressives Congress in Akwa Ibom has called to question Supreme Court Justice Inyang Okoro’s state of mind when he wrote CJN Maohammed Mahmud explaining his dalliance with parties in his court, and the reason the Department of State Security is after him.
“It is deeply saddening that a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria of Justice John Okoro’s standing, who is aware that Rule 1 (2) of the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers forbids judicial officers having any such social interaction with and/or opening his doors for persons known to be having ongoing cases before his court, can broadly announce to the world that he received interested parties in a legal disputation pending in his court into his residence,” the party said in a statement issued, Saturday, by its spokesman, Ita Awak.
The party was reacting to the letter in Okoro accused some Rivers ex-Gov. Rotimi Amaechi and Akwa Ibom APC candidate Umana of attempting to bribe him over the Rivers and Akwa Ibom governorship election cases then pending in the apex court.
Both Mr. Amaechi and Mr. Umana have denied the allegations.
According to the party, Okoro, by his own letter, has only succeeded in shooting himself in the foot.
“We cannot fathom what manner of thoughtlessness and recklessness is responsible for a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria venturing into such an absurd self-indictment.”
The APC said it doubted if Mr. Okoro was the real author of the letter “ because we expect that Justice Okoro ought to have known that Mr. Umana Umana and Akwa Ibom State APC did not file any ‘appeal’ at the Supreme Court”.
“As records will indeed confirm, the APC did not seek any relief from the Supreme Court except the affirmation of the concurrent findings of the two lower courts and a dismissal of the ‘appeals’ by Mr. Udom Emmanuel and the Akwa Ibom State PDP,” the statemen read.
“If Justice Okoro is the true author of his letter, it is very possible that he is craftily mixing up issues by trying so inelegantly to cover up those who actually solicited for, promised paying him millions of Naira monthly if he cooperated and, indeed, got his concrete assistance in helping them ‘win their Appeal in the Supreme Court’.”
Raising a numbr of questions, the party wanted to know: “Exactly when or on which days, times and month did Messrs. Amaechi and Umana visit Justice Okoro and promised to be paying him millions of Naira if he cooperated?
Knowing that this was in breach of the law, said the party, why did Justice Okoro prefer to give the CJN an ‘oral report’ of this crime instead of lodging official and written complaints of the two incidents?
“If it is factual that Justice John Okoro orally reported to the Chief Justice of Nigeria on the 1st of February, 2016 that chieftains of a political party came to his house trying to bribe him to assist in perverting justice in a case pending in the Supreme Court, what official measures did the CJN take and where is the evidence that he informed the relevant authorities with a view of bringing the suspects to justice?
“Why is it that absolutely nothing was heard or recorded of these purported attempts to bribe one of the Justices of our Supreme Court on or before the 1st of February, 2016 until the honourable Justice was arrested and questioned over corrupt practices in early October 2016?”
The APC said if Mr. Okoro’s allegations were true, that the judge would have “activated” Section 23 of the Corrupt Practices And Other Related Offences Act, 2000 against the two
“Any public officer to whom any gratification is given, promised, or offered, in contravention of any provision of this Act, shall report such gift, promised or offer together with the name, if known, of the person who gave, promised or offered such gratification to him to the nearest officer of the commission or police officer,” the Section states.
Regretting the shame Okoro has brought to his home state Akwa Ibom, the party said: “He (Mr. Okoro) is the second Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria from Akwa Ibom State after the meritorious and exemplary career of late Justice Egbert Udo Udoma.
“We, therefore, naturally expected that Justice John I. Okoro will conduct himself with such decorum, dignity and integrity as late Justice Udoma did and thereby bring respect to himself and our people.”