Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption, Professor Itse Sagay (SAN) said, yesterday, that calls for the sack of Transportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, were meant to weaken President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
Prof. Sagay also described calls for Amaechi’s removal as “malicious.”
Two Justices of the Supreme Court, Sylvester Ngwuta and John Inyang Okoro, whose homes were raided by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS), last month, had, in separate letters to the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, (CJN) Mahmud Mohammed and the National Judicial Council (NJC) alleged that the former Rivers State governor made entreaties to them, to swing judgment in favour of the All Progressives Congress (APC) over pending governorship election cases before them.
Justice Ngwuta specifically alleged that Amaechi begged him to facilitate the removal of Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose as well as invalidate the election of Rivers Governor, Nyesom Wike.
In his letter, he specifically mentioned Amaechi and Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, as two top APC leaders who approached him on election matters.
Taking it up from there, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and some Nigerians asked president Buhari to remove Amaechi from his cabinet, pending investigation of corruption against him.
But, addressing newsmen, yesterday, in Lagos, Prof. Sagay, who spoke in his personal capacity, said agitation for Amaechi’s removal was meant to weaken the Buhari administration and cast aspersion on its anti-corruption crusade.
“Mere allegations cannot have enough weight to affect the position of such a 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.
“The sudden anti-Amechi narrative is consistent with the objectives and interests of chief promoters and funders of judicial corruption during election petitions. Those 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 corruption and brought that great institution, the Judiciary to its knees, after the 2015 elections.’’
“These allegations are intended to undermine and weaken the Buhari-led Federal Government, by depriving it of the service, input, ideas and productivity of some of its brightest stars. This was intended to set the stage for charging the government with ineffectiveness and cluelessness. In other words, it was an attempt to reduce the image and perception of this federal government to the low level of their own late and unlamented government.
“Therefore, the call for Amaechi to step down is malicious and vindictive. It should be ignored with complete ignominy.’’
Prof. Sagay, who accused the Supreme Court Justices of “diversionary tactics,” further advised them to face the grave allegations against them.
“This outburst by the two Justices is surprising, considering that it was 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 defences against the serious charges they face.
“In any case, given their status 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.
“It is demeaning for them to abandon their legitimate defence in order to smear a high official of the Buhari government, which latter, they probably consider to be the source of their predicament.”