Vanguard (Lagos)

16 March 2012

Nigeria: Bizman Denies Accusing Judicial Officers of Collecting N40 Million Bribe

Onitsha — There is now new twist in the alleged N40 million bribe controversy between an Onitsha- based transporter, Chief Godwin Okeke and two top Judiciary officials in Anambra State as the former has denied ever accusing the officials of collecting money from him.

There had been a running battle between Chief Okeke and the two officials following the accusation that the two officials collected N40m bribe to release some of the suspects who kidnapped him in August 2009.

The judicial officers however denied the allegation.

Addressing newsmen, yesterday, in Onitsha, Chief Okeke, said what he stated in his petition to the Anambra State House of Assembly and his statement in court in Awka, was that one of the kidnap suspects who had been calling him on telephone threatening to kill him if he did not withdraw the court case against them, told him that he spent N40m to secure his release.

He further said he told the court and the House of Assembly that one of the suspects who was brought to the court in a wheel chair from the prison and released on health grounds went to Asaba few days after his release and threw a party for his friends even as he boasted that they were regrouping to eliminate him.

He said: "I actually raised that alarm that the case was being frustrated by the office of the Attorney-General but there was no time I said that he collected any bribe. I still maintain that the Attorney- General and his DPP are frustrating the case and the Attorney-General and the DPP were trying to shift the blame against one another during our separate meetings with the House Committee; so that confirmed my suspicion but I never accused them of collecting any bribe, so if their conscience is judging them now there is still time to do the right thing.

"I am not intimidated by any threat from the AG or the kidnappers. I started taking criminals to court 37 years ago, so, I cannot be intimidated by anybody neither will I be discouraged by the antics of those who want to set the accused free without prosecuting them in court."

Okeke insisted that officials in the state Ministry of Justice released some of the suspects arrested for allegedly kidnapping him without charging them to court, a claim he said that even the Judge in the matter confirmed while giving his judgment on the application for bail by two of the accused persons; that there was an undue delay by the state in filing information against the accused.

According to him, he had no doubt about the state government's role in frustrating the case, wondering why the Ministry of Justice could not file the necessary information needed by the court to try the matter.

"Even when they were repeatedly given enough time by the court to file the information, they preferred giving both the court and the State Assembly flimsy excuses for not filing the information.

"Nobody can frustrate or intimidate me into dropping the case no matter his position; not even by the threat by the Attorney General, through his statement that he would take me to court," he added pointing out that he would pursue the matter to its logical conclusion for posterity.

Okeke said he was waiting for the report of the House Committee looking into his petition,before taking his next line of action over the matter.

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