Rights coalition seeks urgent investigation of Justice Okoro’s allegations against Amaechi, Umana
Posted by News Express | 26 October 2016 | 1,661 times
An anti-graft coalition, Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC), has asked the Independent Corrupt Practices (and Other Related Offences) Commission (ICPC) to urgently investigate the bribery allegation of Justice Inyang Okoro against the Minister of Transport, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, and the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Umana Umana.
In a petition addressed to the anti-graft agency, the coalition’s chairman, Mr. Olanrewaju Suraju, stated that the need to investigate the allegation is crucial in order to rid the society of corruption and ensure the success of this administration in its fight against corruption.
Following his arrest by the Department of State Security (DSS), Justice Okoro in a letter of defence he wrote to the Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman of the National Judicial Council (NJC), alleged that Amaechi and Umana tried to bribe him on separate occasions in order for him to influence the outcome of the suit on 2015 governorship election in Akwa Ibom in favour of APC.
CSNAC’s petition dated 26 October, 2016, reads in part: “If Justice Okoro’s allegation is anything to go by, then he definitely has a case to answer with the Commission. By virtue of Section 23 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000, Public Officers are duty bound to report bribery transactions. Section 23(1) provides as follows:
“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 group further noted: “By virtue of the above stated section, Justice Okoro had a duty to report the attempt to bribe him by Messrs. Amaechi and Umana. His failure to do same and only resorting to use the information as a first line of defence against his raid by the State Security Service will not exonerate him from the offence committed under the Act.
“From the foregoing, it is evident that the learned Justice has committed an offence punishable under the Act. The claim of Justice Okoro to ‘verbal’ reportage of the bribery attempt to the Chief Justice of Nigeria does not assuage for Section 23(3) of the ICPC Act. Where Justice Okoro is able to substantiate his claims against Messrs. Amaechi and Umana, both should be investigated and prosecuted accordingly. The alleged offer of bribe to Justice Okoro is an offence which contravenes Section 9 of the Act and liable upon conviction to seven (7) years imprisonment.
“In order to rid the society of corruption and ensure the success of this administration in its fight against corruption, all hands need to be on deck. The Judiciary is unarguably the most important arm of government in this regard and it is important that the bench is populated by upright Judges with impeachable character and integrity for a successful fight. It is extremely necessary to rid the judiciary of judges who will be clogs in the wheel of progress of the country.
“In view of this, CSNAC is therefore by this petition calling on the Commission to commence an immediate thorough investigation into the allegations made by Justice Okoro and also ensure that prosecution and proper punishment is meted out in line with established laws, rules and regulation. This we believe will contribute immensely to returning Nigeria to its rightful position in the comity of Nations.”