According to media reports currently in circulation, the embattled Minister of Transportation and former Governor of Rivers State, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi has denied claims that he is behind the plot to remove the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnonghen.
While, indeed, the minister is within his rights to deny any involvement, it is imperative to ask the following questions:
1. Does the following statement made by Justice Okoro of the Supreme Court of Nigeria contained in a letter dated October 17, 2016 and addressed to the then Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, not prove that he Amaechi is capable of such: “I strongly believe that my travail is not unconnected with the verbal report I made to you on 1st February, 2016 about the visit to my official residence by H/E Rotimi Amaechi, former Governor of Rivers State and now Minister of Transportation.
“In that report, I told you my Lord, that Mr. Amaechi said the President of Nigeria and the All Progressives Congress mandated him to inform me that they must win their election appeals in Rivers State, Akwa Ibom and Abia State at all costs.”
2. Do the undenied leaked audio recordings of the Amaechi confessions not situate him as being duplicitous, and as such, expose him as a person capable of undermining the judiciary?
3. Is the record of his total shutdown of courts and the deprivation of litigants access to justice for nearly 2 years while sitting as Governor of Rivers State not a bold and undeniable testament of his proven capacity to undermine the judiciary?
4. Does Amaechi need any reminder of the statement by Justice Sylvester Ungwuta against him? Was he not yet another Justice of the Supreme Court who was framed up by Amaechi?
Did Justice Ungwuta not report that, “I am a victim of my own resolve never to violate my sacred oath of office as a Judicial Officer. Politicians and their collaborators have been hunting me on that account. It started in Ebonyi State where I was falsely accused before a panel set up by NJC in August 2000. It was replicated in 2009 when I was pulled from my Division, Calabar, to preside over a motion filed by Senator Andy Uba seeking to be a Governor without going through the process of election. In each case I was exonerated.
“My present plight started sometime between 2013 and 2014. I represented the then Chief Justice of Nigeria in an event organised in the International Conference Centre. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi came in late and sat next to me at the high table. He introduced himself to me and we exchanged contacts. A few weeks after, Fayose’s case was determined in the Court of Appeal. Amaechi called me by 6.45 am. He said he had come to see me but was told I had left for my office. When he said he would return in the evening, I demanded to know what he wanted but he would not tell me. He did not come that evening but came the following morning when I was already prepared to go to work. He begged me to ensure that Fayose’s election was set aside and another election ordered for his friend Fayemi to contest. I told him I would not help him and that even if I am on the panel I have only my one vote.
“After the Rivers State Governorship election was determined by the Court of Appeal, he called to tell me his ears were full and he would like to tell me what he heard. I told him I was out of Abuja at the time. On my return he came in the evening and even before he sat down he barked “You have seen Wike”. I asked him whether that was a question or a statement. Then he made a call and asked me to speak with someone. The man he called said he was a DSS man. We exchanged greetings and I handed the phone to him. Next, he said “Oga is not happy”. I asked him who is the unhappy “Oga” and he answered “Buhari”. I retorted “go and talk to his wife”. He got very angry, and left, remarking “we shall see” several times.”’
Since, therefore these are proven cases of His meddlesomeness in the Judiciary, with a bid to undermine it, what then is he denying about the reports of his involvement in plots to remove the CJN given that he already feels threatened that his Party stands no chance of victory at the judiciary on the strength of the law rather than inducement as he would reasonably allege.
His resolve therefore to castigate the Rivers State Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike for informing the world of his backhand tactics to undermine the judiciary and oust the CJN is not well thought out. There are incontrovertible evidence and numerous cases of his interference with judicial processes as contained in records of Senior Judicial Officers, Justices and Judges of Courts of Law as well as by actions while as Governor of Rivers State. Rather than castigate the Rivers State Governor, the embattled former Governor needs to do some soul searching and seek forgiveness both from God and Nigerians for the roles he has played and is currently playing to undermine the happiness and success of the vast majority of Nigerians.
Most of all, he needs to search his conscience to determine whether the way and manner in which he has displaced his business partner from a stake in their business is actually right, especially since he knows the man stands no chance in an electoral contest for which he was forced into unprepared.
Oraye St. Franklyn is a barrister-at-law. He is senior special assistant to Governor Nyesom Wike on Social Media. He is a strategic communicator and good governance advocate, writes from Port Harcourt, Rivers State. He tweets from @RealOraye. He is also on Facebook.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.