Following efforts of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government to get rid of bad eggs and sanitize the judiciary, more heads are to roll for offences bordering on bribery and other unethical practices in the nation’s judicial system.
Justice Ibrahim Auta, the Chief Justice of the Federal High Court of Nigeria, has been fingered in another bribery scam in connection with the case between the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and a former Governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Kalu, before Justice Anwuri Chikere of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Recall that the businessman-cum-politician and two others were arraigned by EFCC in 2007 on charges of diversion of public funds and fraud.
It was gathered from a reliable source that the immediate-past Governor of Abia State, Chief T. A Orji, has paid N100 million, with a promise of an additional N200 million to Justice Auta through the Abia State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Umeh Kalu, for the purpose of transferring Kalu’s case to Federal High Court, Lagos, where a mutual friend of the Chief Justice of the Federal High Court and Orji will be assigned the case.
According to further investigations, the ploy to use the yet-to-be-named Judge at the Federal High Court, Lagos to jail the front-line business mogul has been perfected by the trio of Auta, Orji and Umeh Kalu.
Speaking under condition of anonymity, an administrative staff of the Federal High Court, Abuja said: “I am surprised that the Judge in question is not afraid of tarnishing his age-long career for money.
“It is unfortunate that despite the efforts of the Federal Government in sanitizing the system, some judges are still collecting money and landed properties from claimants and defendants.
“The case between the EFCC and Kalu is currently before Justice Anwuri Chikere of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
“On September 27, 2016, the case came up again with all the parties in attendance and the Judge adjourned till December7,8 and 9, 2016 for commencement of trial.
“It is surprising that a case that has reached such an advanced stage will be transferred to Lagos.
“Something is fishy!
“I have been in the system for decades but this is the first time I am hearing of a development like this.
“All parties to the case have been forthcoming, including ex-governor Kalu, who has been conspicuously present in court proceedings.
“I want to believe that the people behind the proposed transfer of Kalu’s case from Abuja High Court to Lagos High Court will have a rethink of their action for the sake of integrity of the judiciary.”
Kalu and two others are facing a 34-count amended charge bordering on alleged fraud
during his tenure as Abia State Governor (1999-2007).
Though Kalu could not be reached for his comment, his lawyer, Amobi Nzelu, has already forwarded a protest letter to the Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, on the issue.
Kalu said transferring the case to Lagos would amount to seeking to convict him at all cost.