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Delta State National/State Assembly Tribunal Judges In N50m Bribery Scam

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An alleged whooping sum of N50million bribery scam has rocked the Delta state National/State Houses of Assembly election petition tribunal sitting in Asaba, the state capital.

The three man panel headed by one Hon. Justice F. O. Atilade of a Lagos state High Court had Hon. Justice. C. J. Aneke of an Enugu state High Court and Chief Magistrate Y. S. Bogoro from the Northern part of Nigeria as members, it was learnt they were allegedly penetrated and influenced with the huge sum by some judicial officers of the state to deliver judgment in favour of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) House of Assembly member representing Isoko South constituency II, Mr. Johnson Erijo against his opponent of the Labour Party, Chief Iduh Amadhe. / reliably gathered that the PDP candidate and his supporters who tried all means to frustrate the pre-hearing of the case earlier, had allegedly before now boasted that with their connections, money and otherwise, the tribunal judgment would be a shocker to his opponent at the end of the day having failed to frustrate the pre-hearing.

Chief Iduh of the Labour Party had dragged the Erijo of the PDP to the tribunal challenging the results of Aviara ward 03 in Isoko South constituency II, allegations of irregularities amongst others and his subsequent declaration by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the winner of the April, 26, 2011 House of Assembly election.

Impeccable sources disclosed that one of the orderlies to the Judges had confided in a colleague close to a supporter of one of the two political parties how the judgment has already been influenced with huge sum of money running into millions of naira. It was also gathered that the Judges hired the services of external typist who was used to type the first judgment which was in favour of the Labour Party candidate but as soon the Judges allegedly took delivery of the N50million they (Judges) had no option than to change the judgment in favour of the PDP candidate which a part was hand written with a pen.

Investigation further revealed that all judgments delivered by the panel before the Friday, 11, November, 2011 and after were made available to petitioners and respondents but the judgment delivered on that fateful day of November 11, was not made available for petitioners to file their Appeal as it was said Justice C. J. Aneke had traveled with it to Enugu, making it impossible for the petitioners and the respondents to apply for it. This incident, it was learnt, was an arrangement with Justice Aneke to frustrate the appeal of the petitioner.

Irked by what they described as injustice, a legal practitioner under the instruction of some concerned Nigerians, Mr. Johnson Ogbo and Egbe Joseph has petitioned the President, Court of Appeal, Abuja, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Federal Ministry of Justice Headquarters, Abuja and The Chairman, National Judicial Council (NJC), Headquarters, Abuja over the development. The petition titled 'Complaint of gross misconduct and acts unbecoming of judicial officers against Hon. Justice. C.J. Aneke, Hon. Justice F.O.Atilade and Chief Magistrate Y.S. Bogoro of the National/State Houses of Assembly election petition tribunal, Asaba, Delta state.' signed by Barrister Anthony Sawyer and made available to stated 'We are solicitors to Mr. Johnson Ogbo and Egbe Joseph both of whom we shall subsequently refer to as our clients and write this complaint at their behest and firm instructions. Our clients were eye witness to that brazen judicial fraud that took place in the hallowed chambers of the court on Friday, the 11th day of November, 2011 at the National/State Houses of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal No. 4 in respect of petition No. EPT/DT/HA/18/2011 between Amadhe Idu Gabriel. & ANOR V. Johnson Erijo & 5 ORS.'

According to the petition dated November, 16th, 2011 'While our clients were awaiting the delivery of the tribunal's judgment which was fixed for 9am on 11/11/11 by the Honourable Tribunal chaired by Hon. Justice F.O. Atilade, our clients observed certain strange movements of a lady who walked into the court and whispered curtained words to the court's clerk by name Segun who was apparently not delighted with the information the court clerk had passed on to him. The court clerk nevertheless sat up and announced to the parties and their supporters who were eagerly awaiting the delivery of the said judgment slated for 9am that their lordships had not finished with the judgment. Shortly afterwards, at 9:20am, the police orderlies attached to the judges moved in two Ghana-must-go (sacks) into the judge's chambers (which can only be accessed through the open court). My Lord, as soon as that Ghana-must-go sacks were moved into the chambers, the counsel to the respondents left the court hall and were later joined by their supporters who began to celebrate right there at the court and before the delivery of the judgment that they have won the case.'

Continuing the petitioners further alleged that 'At about 10:05am, our clients observed the police orderlies of these judges emerging from the chambers with three Ghana-must-go bags and each was taken straight to the awaiting vehicles of the judges. Meanwhile, as soon as the two (2) Ghana-must-go bags were moved into the Judge's chambers, our clients were alerted that the bags were loaded with monies meant for the judges by the 1st Respondent (Hon. Johnson Erijo).

'Our clients' suspicion were further confirmed when the police orderlies at about 10:05am emerged from the chambers with three Ghana-must-go bags (sacks) which were taken straight into the boot of the three vehicles of the judges. My Lords, the tribunal's judgment which was later delivered at about 11:20am by Hon. Justice C.J. Aneke clearly demonstrated the compromised mind-set of the judges who sat on the panel. The Judges ensured that they ran a rough shod over settled legal principles and exhumed the relics of exploded laws to find anchorage for their compromised judgment. Indeed, the action of the judges, particularly Hon. Justice C.J. Aneke of Enugu State High Court leaves a sour state in the mouth and marked a watershed in the annals of judicial history where judges treat evidence before them as though they were not.

'Curiously, when the petitioners applied for a Certified True Copy of the said judgment, another melodrama played itself out as Hon. Justice C.J. Aneke was said to have traveled to Enugu with the said judgment, ostensibly to panel beat same to have a better outlook.  It is nonetheless saddening to note that while the Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman of the Nigeria Judicial Commission is bent on rebranding the battered image of the Nigerian judiciary, such characters like Hon. Justice C.J. Aneke, Hon. Justice F.O. Atilade and their co-conspirators are hell bent on destroying same even before the prodding eyes of lay men. While we do not wish to convict the Judges who sat on this panel unheard, we would urge that a high powered investigation be instituted to determine the culpability or otherwise of these Judges in respect of their misdeed in Petition No EPT/DT/HA/18/2011 between Amadhe Idu Gabriel. & ANOR V. Johnson Erijo & 5 ORS.' The petition concluded.