REVEALED: How Kogi State Governorship Tussle Triggered Mass Arrest Of Judges

By Ikenga Chronicles October 16, 2016

REVEALED: How Kogi State Governorship Tussle Triggered Mass Arrest Of Judges

The recent clamp down on some judges of the High Court and justices of the Supreme Court over allegations of corruption has been linked to the humongous amounts of money allegedly collected by some of the judges by some senior lawyers involved in the legal battle to confirm Yahaya Bello as the duly elected Governor of Kogi State.

The Supreme Court had on Tuesday, September 20, 2016, upheld the election of Bello as governor of Kogi State as it dismissed all five appeals lodged against his return at the apex court.

The seven-man Supreme Court panel was led by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, one of the two Justices of the Supreme Court arrested in the midnight raid coordinated by operatives of the Department of State Service(DSS) across several cities in the country among others.

The arrest of these big wigs in the temple of justice has been hailed by the former Governor of Kogi State, Capt. Idris Wada, who had earlier alleged that money played a major role in deciding the outcome the 2015 Governorship Election Petition in the state.

Wada said that last week’s arrest of the seven by DSS operatives was a vindication of his earlier position that his successor in office procured his electoral victory.

In a statement signed by his Chief Communications Manager, Phrank Shaibu, on the unprecedented arrest of the judges of the High Court through the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court, the former governor declared that the episode was a vindication of his earlier call on President Muhammadu Buhari to initiate a probe into the conduct of affairs in the Judiciary.

“I have observed with keen interest the raid by men of the Department of State Services and the arrest of judges alleged to have compromised their oath of office and what attracted my attention more, though not surprising, is the fact that the Justices that we had accused of perverting the course of justice in the infamous case of inheritance of a dead candidate’s votes, were among those who will soon be having their day in court for alleged corruption,” Wada said.

Bello became the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the Kogi governorship poll following the death of Prince Abubakar Audu, in an election that was declared inconclusive at the first ballot.

Bello was later declared winner of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, at the conclusion of the polls.

However, he had to contend with a fierce post – election battle because the process of his emergence as candidate was unprecedented in the history of Nigeria.

He was dragged to court by Hon. James Abiodun Faleke of the same APC who claimed that Bello was not the rightful candidate but himself who stood in the earlier election with Audu and won majority of the votes cast before his principal died. On the other hand, Bello’s victory was also challenged by the former governor of the state, Wada who wanted to be declared governor based on the fact that he scored the second highest number of
votes at the initial election before the death of Abubakar Audu, the then candidate of the APC.

While the legal tussle lasted, some civil society groups had alerted the anti-corruption agencies of alleged diversion of funds from the accounts of the Kogi State Government through frivolous contracts for the procurement of security vehicles and renovation of government buildings.

A security source revealed that there had always been suspicion that some judges who superintended over electoral cases in Nigeria were often offered huge sums of money to deliver predetermined judgement.

“It is an open secret that many of these high profile judgement on elections are procured. They say the law is an ass, which means it can go either way depending on the highest bidder.There has always been bribery and corruption in the judiciary but you know that these days of change, you cannot just do certain things and get away with it,” he said.

It was learnt that before the legal battle got to the Appeal and Supreme Courts, Bello of Kogi had been accused of freighting as much as N1.5billion bribe to the judges of the Kogi State Election Petition Tribunal to secure a favorable judgement.

The Kogi Patriotic Front, KPF, which made the allegation, claimed that each of the three justices got N500 million to influence verdict, an allegation the state government has denied.

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