Eminent legal scholar Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN) yesterday advised Supreme Court Justices under probe for corruption to defend themselves in the court, instead of diverting attention to an alleged bribery by Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi.
He described Supreme Court Justice, Inyang Okoro’s and Sylvesta Ngwuta’s call for Amaechi’s resignation as improper and urged the minister to ignore it.
Sagay said the allegation of attempted inducement by the minister had no bearing with the justices’ arrest and subsequent charges before a court of competent jurisdiction.
The retired university don said the statements credited to Justices Ngwuta and Okoro smacked of wrong attribution, adding that it was a calculated attempt to bring the minister down and deny the Federal Government the services of a bright member of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
Sagay, however, clarified that he decided to air his opinion in his personal capacity and not as the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption.
He observed that certain people had always indulged in pulling down fellow human beings in a bid to divert attention from the matter of the moment.
Sagay told reporters in Lagos that the sudden narrative on Amaechi was consistent with the objectives and interests of the chief promoters of judicial corruption.
He said the outburst by the Justices was surprising because it was totally unrelated to the raids of their premises, their arrest and subsequent charges before the courts.
Sagay said: “Men of that status should not indulge in such diversionary activities in the midst of grave and ominous charges facing them. I would have thought that they would use the time at their disposal to prepare their defences against the serious charges they are facing.”
The legal luminary added: “Given their status as Supreme Court justices, even in the middle of the adversity confronting them, they should not have engaged in a distraction totally incompatible with the dignity and respect that their high offices attract.
“It is demeaning for them to abandon their legitimate defence in order to smear a high official of the Buhari government, which latter, they probably consider to be the source of their predicaments. Mere allegations cannot have enough weight to affect the position of such a high official as Amaechi.
“Otherwise knowing the disposition of Nigerians for putting people down, no office holder will be safe in this country. It is therefore improper and ridiculous to compare the position of the Justices in whose houses millions of naira and hundreds of thousands of dollars were recovered, to that of Amaechi against whom there is only the mere (ipse dixit) words of mouth of the Judges.
Sagay maintained that the wrong attribution to Amaechi by the Justices underscored the style of powerful opposition politicians from Rivers and Akwa-Ibom States, stressing that they were the ones who financed judicial corruption and brought the judiciary to its knees after last year’s elections.
The former university don said the allegations are intended to undermine and weaken the Buhari government by depriving it of the service, input, ideas and productivity of some of its brightest stars.
Sagay said the plot was intended to set the stage for charging the government with ineffectiveness and cluelessness.
He added: “It is an attempt to reduce the image and perception of this Federal Government to the low level of their own late and unlamented government. Therefore, the call for Amaechi to step down is malicious and vindictive. It should be ignored with complete ignominy.”