By Dele Ogbodo in Abuja
The Minister of Science and Technology, Mr. Ogbonnaya Onu, on Friday said the petition written against him by Justice Sylvester Nwali Ngwuta to the Chief Justice of the Federation and Chairman of the National Judicial Council. alleging that he was involved in influencing the judiciary was frivolous and unfounded.
In a statement signed by the minister yesterday, in Abuja, he affirmed that based on the petition written by Ngwuta on the 18th, he did not offer Ngwuta bribe to influence judicial proceeding at any material time.
“I did not offer Hon. Justice Sylvester Ngwuta or any other judge for that matter bribe to influence judicial proceeding at any time.
“My attention has been drawn to the widely publicised statements credited to His Lordship, Hon. Justice Sylvester Nwali Ngwuta in his petition dated October 18, 2016, addressed to the Hon. Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman of the National Judicial Council.
“I have labored hard with other compatriots to strengthen the depth and reach of participatory democracy in our beloved country”, he explained.
The minister said he was conscious of the essence of the rule of law as a vital component of true and enduring democracy and the important need to treasure, protect and defend it at all times.
“Accordingly, in furtherance of this conviction, let me affirm that I did not offer Hon. Justice Sylvester Ngwuta or any other judge for that matter bribe to influence judicial proceeding at any time.
“Further, for record purposes, let me explain that I have known the Igwenyi’s family for a long time. Infact, two of them were at the University of Port Harcourt when I was teaching there.
“When I later became Governor of old Abia State, I appointed the eldest son, a Director General in my Administration. Arising from this age old relationship, we exchange visits from time to time having established a warm relationship with the family.
“I am astonished that Justice Ngwuta made such statements against my humble self, especially considering that he is my brother, friend and long standing associate of almost three decades.
“I wish to make it clear that I know Hon. Justice Sylvester Nwali Ngwuta, both of us having come from the same old Ohaozara Local Government Area of Ebonyi State. Our relationship has been that of mutual respect for one another over the years.” he said.
Onu affirmed that he has always been a builder, not a destroyer, a man of peace, honour and justice and shall remain so, adding that he had no hand in Ngwuta’s present travail with DSS.
“Finally, I believe in honour as a strong attribute that has guided me throughout my more than 25 year old career in public service. I have not changed. And I will never change.
“I wish to reassure Hon. Justice Sylvester Nwali Ngwuta that regardless of the circumstance, my heart goes out to him, especially at this challenging time of his career as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria”, he concluded.