Posted by News Express | 2 June 2017 | 1,299 times
A pro-transparency NGO, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has asked the relevant law enforcement agencies and the chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Sylvester Onnoghen to probe the alleged bribery involving a serving judge in the Cross River State bench, Mrs. Akoh Ikpeme and a serving Senator from Kogi West, Mr. Dino Melaye.
National Coordinator of the group, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, in a statement, said the audio recording of the alleged conversation between Maleye and the Judge who validated his electoral victory Justice Ikpeme, which has gone viral is capable of destroying the infinitesimal integrity still left of the embattled nation’s Judiciary if left un-investigated.
Besides, the Rights group said this particular matter is a litmus test for the newly inaugurated Chief Justice of Nigeria given that the judge being accused of serious misconduct comes from the same state judiciary/bench where Justice Walter Onnoghen commenced his upward swing to national judicial offices.
“The CJN has also pledged to wage unrelenting crusade against judicial corruption and bribery. This issue of alleged bribery involving this Cross River state born Judge must be used to gauge how committed to this pledge is the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria.
“Specifically, the Senator representing Kogi West, Mr. Dino Melaye, was reportedly caught on tape allegedly bribing a Tribunal Judge who handled his election case in 2015, Justice Akoh Ikpeme.
“In the audio tape, which allegedly captures a telephone conversation between the judge and the Kogi West Senator, Ikpeme could be heard telling Melaye to give her bribe in US dollars even as the audio recording was circulated by the Nigeria owned but New York based online newspaper Sahara Reporters.”
HURIWA recalled that Justice Ikpeme had in 2016 dismissed a petition by Melaye’s opponent, Smart Adeyemi, contesting the emergence of the lawmaker at an election tribunal.
“We are hereby urging the Chief Justice of Nigeria to immediately commence the investigation of this serving Judge, Akoh Ikpeme of the Cross River bench in this widely circulated and extensively damaging allegations of bribery and the accusations that she demanded and allegedly received favour from one of the litigants that appeared before her in her position as the chairman of the then Electoral Tribunal in the matter between Senator Smart Adeyemi and Mr. Dino Melaye,” the group said.
HURIWA also declared: “We are by this public statement putting the judiciary under his Lordship, Justice Onnoghen on notice that should this alleged bribery be swept under the carpet, apparently because the person being accused of this extensively offensive crime of bribery is of the same state with the Chief Justice of Nigeria, then the little integrity and respectability left for the judiciary would evaporate automatically because right now the judiciary is saturated with proven cases of professional and ethical misconduct.”
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