The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State has given Justice Inyang Okoro of the Supreme Court one week to withdraw the bribery allegation he made against Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, or be ready to go to jail for contravening the Corrupt Practices And Other Related Offence Act 2000. The demand is contained in a statement issued on Thursday in Port Harcourt, signed by State APC Chairman, Chief (Dr.) Davies Ibiamu Ikanya.
The statement berated Justice Okoro for his wild and baseless allegation as contained in his letter to the National Judicial Council (NJC) following his recent arrest by the Department of State Service (DSS) for alleged corruption. The party noted that while the judgement in the Rivers State governorship election dispute was given by the Supreme Court on January 27, 2015, Justice Inyang Okoro in his letter to the NJC claimed that Rt. Hon. Amaechi tried to bribe him on February 1, 2015 to influence a ruling made four days earlier and nine months to alert the public about the alleged bribery attempt! “One does not need a soothsayer to see that Justice Okoro is very confused and thinks that by mentioning the name of Amaechi in his letter, he would deceive Nigerians and play down the gravity of his sins and crimes against Rivers State people and Nigeria as a whole,” Rivers APC said.
Continuing, the statement said: “If we may ask Justice Okoro, why should Amaechi or anybody attempt to bribe him for an election upturned by both the Tribunal and the Appeal Court? An election widely condemned by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the international community and both local and foreign observers who monitored the shambolic exercise in the course of which over 200 of our members were slaughtered like chicken just to install Chief Nyesom Wike of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in power at all cost?”
Rivers APC drew Justice Okoro’s attention to the provisions of the Corrupt Practices And Other Related Offence Act 2000, which makes failure to report bribery or a bribery attempt a crime that attracts both a fine and a jail term. Below are the relevant provisions of the said Act:
(23)-(1) Any public officer to whom any gratification is given, promised, or offered, in contravention of any provision of this Act, shall report such gift, promise 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.
(2) Any person from whom gratification has been solicited or obtained, or from whom an attempt has been made to obtain such gratification, in contravention of any provision of this Act, shall, at the earliest opportunity thereafter, report such soliciting or obtaining, or attempt to obtain the gratification together with the name, if known, or a true and full description of the person who solicited, or obtained, or attempted to obtain the gratification from him, to the nearest officer of the commission or police officer.
(3) Any person who fails, without reasonable excuse, to comply with sub-sections (1) and (2) shall be guilty of an offence and shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding one hundred thousand naira or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to both fine and imprisonment.
“For failing to report the fictional bribery attempt by Amaechi, Justice Okoro has committed an offence that attracts up to two years imprisonment. We are hereby giving him one week to retract his worthless and satanic letter and apologise to Amaechi or we may be forced to set in motion a machinery to invoke the Corrupt Practices And Other Related Offence Act 2000,” Rivers APC said.
The party commended the DSS for taking the bold step to bring corrupt judges to justice. It urged the NJC “not only to assist the Federal Government in this fight against crimes against our nation but to also overturn the injustices meted to the various states and organs by these agents of darkness in the Judiciary, as this is the only way to atone for the blood of our dead members shed with impunity during the discredited 2015 elections in Rivers State.”