CSOs allege plans by IPoB and Yoruba Nation agitators to compromise judicial officers
…Say $5 million in place for judges, lawyers
…Ask CJN to monitor state chief judges
…Want Abia judge to recues himself from IPoB leader’s case
EMERGENCY DIGEST- As the fundamental rights cases filed by Indigenous People of Biafra leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and that of Yoruba Separatist agitator, Chief Sunday Adeyemo Igboho gather momentum in courts, civil rights groups have raised the alarm that some judges in the country might have been compromised to work against the interest of Nigeria and favour the secessionists, thereby throwing the country into turmoil.
The coalition of civil societies under the aegis of Conference of Harmonised Civil Society Organisations in Nigeria (COHCSON), raised the alarm at a news conference in Abuja on Tuesday.
At the conference, the Chairman of the group, Mr. Oduma Richard Oduma, pointed accusing fingers at the rate at which judicial officials were being railroaded into granting frivolous orders to elements spearheading the disintegration of Nigeria not minding the negative and destructive impact on the country with over 200 million people.
The group alleged that already some elements in the Southwest and Southeast were already mobilising funds to the tune of $5 million for the purpose of infiltrating the courts in order to secure favourable orders for the separatists.
The group said that it had also received credible information that some groups were mobilising funds and support from different parts of the country with the sole aim of intimidating and blackmailing judges with a view to obtaining favourable judgements similar to what a judge in Oyo State High Court recently granted in favour of Sunday Igboho.
Oduma said: “Following an emergency expanded meeting of the COHCSON, this press conference was called to condemn what is turning out to be an execution of a detailed plan to subvert and undermine the country’s judicial system. When we first heard that the dissident and secessionist IPOB and Yoruba Nation groups were planning to infiltrate the courts at all levels we dismissed the allegations. But latest developments have indeed forced us to raise this alert.
It has come to our notice that the groups are resorting to blackmail and intimidation to hoodwink the judges into granting them unmerited judicial favours. Recently a State High in Oyo State presided by Justice Ladiran delivered a judgment in favour of Sunday Igboho and awarded him 20billion naira as claims. As part of the evil plots, IPOB has instituted a N5 billion case at the Abia State High Court Umuahia where a judge would, out of fear of harassment and violence, grant them the plea. It has become obvious that IPOB intends to use its violence stricken sit-at-home enforcement style to force the judges do their bidding.
“On the case of Igboho, we are aware that having failed to secure his release from Benin Republic authorities, the leaders resolved to raise funds to patronise friendly judges in Nigeria who are sympathetic to their cause. A serving governor in the south West appears to be part of the plot. The leaders in that meeting also agreed to sponsor more rallies abroad to give Nigeria a bad image internationally. Aside raising funds from Diaspora groups and individuals who share in the evil dream of dividing the country, the group agreed to shop for a friendly judge to award them claims against the government thus the N20 billion.
“We are aware too that the representative of IPOB was mandated in their last meeting in Benin Republic to also institute a fresh suit against the federal government agents. This fresh suit by IPOB though an afterthought which confirms our position. These judges at the state level are said to be emotional attached to their ethnic groups and the separatists.
“We like to use this medium to appeal to judges and lawyers to resist the temptation to betray their secret oath of office and to stick to the law in the overall interest of the country. No amount of inducement should entice any patriot to endanger the lives of over 200 million Nigerians. Judges and lawyers who administer justice should be reminded that the survival of nations depends on the patriotism of her citizens.
“Following deliberations by the representatives of IPOB and Yoruba nation agitators, they had set up a fund raising committee to raise a financial war chest to compromise the judges and confront the Nigerian Government. So far, the groups have raised a huge sum in dollars to bribe two judges in the south west and now South East? Why would judges be induced if the litigants have no predetermined motive? Are they already aware of the legal outcomes, having successfully bribed their way through?
“We are using this opportunity to appeal to the National Judicial Council (NJC) to rise to the occasion and sanction erring judges. The recent warning given by the Chief Justice of Nigeria should be enough to guide the Honourable Judges. No desperate secessionists should be allowed to rubbish our collective unity and threaten our sovereign existence or undermine the integrity of our courts.
“The Chief Justice of Nigeria should caution chief judges of states to monitor developments within their jurisdiction in the interest of the nation and the integrity of the judiciary.
“We request the Chief Judge of Abia State to re-assign the suit filed by IPOB lawyers at the Abia High Court or the judge should recues himself.
“We do not have confidence in a few identified judges to sit on the cases in question. Available evidence suggests glaring judicial bias and solidarity for one party, IPOB and Yoruba nation agitators as well as politicians,” the civil society coalition said.