President of the Court of Appeal Justice Umaru Abdullahi accuses politicians of trying to bribe tribunal members



 

 

THIS DAY

Abdullahi Raises Alarm over Attempt to Corrupt Judges

From Funsho Maraina and Chuks Okocha in Abuja, 12.18.2007

President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Umaru Abdullahi, has raised an  alarm over attempts by politicians to bribe judges sitting on the various petitions arising from the last general elections.

He, however, stated that so far, the attempts had been unsuccessful.

Speaking at the maiden parley with judiciary reporters in Abuja yesterday, Abdullahi said, �They (politicians) are actually moving to compromise the judges, but they have not succeeded. They have been going around, trying to get to the judges; using people like friends and classmates, but all attempts have been rebuffed. The judges have realised that the job is important.

�The judges know the grave implication of being involved in such acts. They know they will lose their jobs if caught. So they have resisted attempts by the politicians to bribe them. So far, no corruption case has been made against any judge.

�It is when the politicians failed in their attempts that they resort to petition writing, saying that someone has been given one billion naira. How do you even move such money? I have never seen one billion naira all my life.�

Justice Abdullahi also disclosed that panels that would hear appeals arising from the Governorship Election Petition Tribunals in the states would be inaugurated in January 2008.

He said the identities of the members of the appeal panels would not be disclosed before their inauguration, so that politicians would not start putting gratification pressure on them to pervert the course of justice.

He assured Nigerians that the 30 mandatory days given by the Constitution to deal with appeals from the governorship elections� petitions would not lapse before the appeals would be resolved.

He gave the middle of February 2008 for the resolution of the appeals.

Tribunal hearing petitions at the state level, according to him, might also wind up by the end of January.

The tribunals had nullified the governorship elections in Adamawa, Kebbi and Kogi states.

He also revealed his withdrawal from the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, attending to the petitions filed by the presidential candidate of the All NIgeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in the election, General Muhammadu Buhari, and former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, of the Action Congress (AC), challenging the election of President Umaru Musa Yar�Adua.

Abdullahi said: �Yes, I was on the 2003 panel, but I�m not on this one (2007). In 2003, since it was the first time at such level during this republic, I felt I had a duty to give leadership. There was a problem then, because Buhari is my friend and a classmate, and I wanted to withdraw from the panel, but the counsel representing all parties in the petition were unanimous in my continued participation in the hearing of the Buhari�s appeal then.

�This time around, it was a double-headed problem, because Buhari is still there and the late elder brother of President Umaru Yar’Ardua, Shehu, was also my bosom friend and my classmate. You know what that means. So even before the issue was raised, I decided to withdraw from the panel. I also felt that other justices from other divisions should be given a chance to go through the nitty-gritty of the process�.
He noted that the perceived delay at the state level of the election tribunal was due to the sharp increase in the number of petitions filed on the last general elections.

Abdullahi pointed out that while 560 petitions were filed on the outcome of the 2003 general elections, 1,250 petitions were filed, challenging the outcome of the2007 elections.

He added that he deliberately waited for some time before setting up second panel in states like Anambra, Ondo, Edo, Delta, Osun among others, because he did not want politicians to take advantage of two panels at same time.

�I did not inaugurate two panels at the same time in the states because I did not want politicians to cause confusion by choosing which panel to appear,� he stated.

THE NATION

Judge accuses politicians of trying to bribe tribunal members 
       18/12/2007
      

From Kunle Olasanmi,
Abuja

The President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Umaru Abdullahi said yesterday that some politicians attempted to bribe the judges on various election tribunals.

“They (politicians) are actually moving to compromise the judges, but they have not succeeded. They have been going around, trying to get to the judges, using people like friends and classmates, but all attempts have been rebuffed.

The judges have realised that the job is important.

“The judges know the grave implication of being involved in such act. They know they will lose their jobs if caught, so they have resisted attempts by the politicians to bribe them. So, far no corruption case has been made against any judge.

“It is when the politicians failed in their attempts that they resort to petition writing, saying that someone has been given N1billion. How do you even move such money? I have never seen N1billion all my life”, he said during a chat with reporters in Abuja yesterday.

Abdullahi said he was glad that the politicians were unable to penetrate the judges.

He also explained why he withdrew from the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal hearing the petitions filed by Maj.-General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) and former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar.

Buhari and Atiku are challenging the election of President Umaru Yar’Adua.

Abdullahi said the panels that would hear appeals arising from the Governorship Election Petition Tribunals, would be constituted in January, 2008.

He said he refused to name the members of the appeal panels before their inauguration, so that politicians would not start putting pressure on them to pervert the course of justice.

He assured that the 30 mandatory days given by the Constitution to deal with appeals from the governorship elections’ petitions, would not lapse before the appeals were resolved.

He gave the middle of the month of February 2008, for the resolution of the appeals.

Tribunals hearing petitions at the state level, according to him, might also wind up by the end of January.

On why he withdrew from the panel hearing the Buhari and Atiku’s petition against Yar’adua, he said:

“Yes, I was on the 2003 panel, but I’m not on this one (2007). In 2003, since it was the first time at such level during this republic, I felt I had a duty to give leadership. There was a problem then, because Buhari is my friend and a classmate, and I wanted to withdraw from the panel, but counsel representing all parties in the petition were unanimous in my continued participation in the hearing of the Buhari’s appeal then.

 

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