A law professor and Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-corruption, Prof Itse Sagay, yesterday condemned calls for the resignation of Minister of Transport, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi.
A section of Nigerians, particularly members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has persistently called on the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government to sack Amaechi over allegations by Supreme Court justices, Sylvester Ngwuta and John Inyang Okoro, that he (Amaechi) attempted to induce them to favour the APC in election petitions.
But joining the calls on President Buhari to disregard the antics of those behind the allegations, in his personal capacity and not as the anti-corruption advisory committee chairman, Sagay said it was a diversionary anti-Amaechi narrative aimed at weakening the government.
Therefore, according to him, “The call for Amaechi to step down is malicious and vindictive. It should be ignored with complete ignominy.”
Sagay, a distinguished legal scholar and human right activist who took this stance at his residence in Lagos, noted that while there are evidence against the judges being investigated, there is no fact to back up allegations against the minister, arguing that the judges should answer to their cases.
“It is demeaning for them to abandon their legitimate defence in order to smear a high official of the Buhari government which they probably consider to be the source of their predicaments (Amaechi). Mere allegations cannot have enough weight to affect the position of such high official as Amaechi, otherwise, knowing the disposition of Nigerians for putting people down, no office holder will be safe in this country.
“It is therefore improper and ridiculous to compare the position of the Justices in whose houses millions of naira and hundreds of thousands of dollars were recovered to that of Amaechi against whom there is only the mere ipse dixit of the judges (an unproven statement).
”This outburst by the two justices is surprising, considering that it is totally unrelated to be raids of their premises, their arrest and subsequent charges before our courts. Men of that status should not indulge in such diversionary activities in the midst of grave and ominous charges facing them.
“I would have thought that they would use the time at their disposal to prepare their defence against the serious charges they are facing. In any case, given their statuses as Supreme Court Justices, even in the middle of the adversity confronting them, they should not have engaged in a distraction totally incompatible with the dignity and respect that their high offices attract,” he stated.
While the Rivers State All Progressives Congress (APC) had attributed the allegation against Amaechi as handiwork of former Akwa-Ibom State Governor, Senator Godwin Akpabia, and Governor Neysome Wike of Rivers State, Sagay pointed fingers at some unnamed political forces in Rivers and Akwa-Ibom States.
He said: “This sudden anti-Amaechi narrative is consistent with the objectives and interests of the chief promoters and financiers of judicial corruption during election petitions.
“These powerful opposition politicians are well known. To be more specific, they are from Rivers and Akwa-Ibom States. They are the ones who financed judicial corruptions and brought that great institution, the judiciary, to its knees, after the 2015 elections.
“These allegations are intended to undermine and weaken the Buhari federal government by depriving it of the service, input, ideas and productivity of some of its brightest stars. This is intended to set the stage for charging the government with ineffectiveness and cluelessness. In other words, it is an attempt to reduce the image and perception of this federal government to the low level of their own late and unlamented government,” he stated.
When asked to juxtapose his position with recent issue of the National Legal Adviser of the APC, Dr. Muiz Banire, who honourably stepped down from his position in the party to pave the way for the law to take his course, he said since in the case of Banire-transferring money from a lawyer to a judge-had been established, it is not similar to Amaechi’s matter where nothing has been established to connect him with the allegation.