By Yemi Oyeyemi, Abuja
The Supreme Court on Thursday clarified that Justice Abdul Aboki was not one of the three Justices of the court petitioned by the All Progressive Congress APC and accused of plotting to subvert justice in the matter of Imo North Senatatorial district election.
The clarification is coming on the heels of confusion as to who wrote the petition under the hand of Yobe Governor and Acting National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Mai Mala Buni.
Accusing fingers are being pointed in the direction of a State Governor said to desperately opposed to the emergence of one of contenders – Ifeanyi Ararume and Francis Ibezim.
The Governor is said to have a penchant for such tendencies, having being investigated in the past by government agencies.
Investigations are, however, said to be on, amid alleged efforts to settle the matter behind the scene with the apex court.
The apex court, however, said that Aboki is in the panel of five Justices of the court constituted to determine the appeal that emanated on the dispute surrounding the authentic candidate of the party in the December 5.2020 senatorial bye-election
Justice Mohammed Musa Dattijo who presided over Tuesday’s proceedings and who made the petition public had mentioned himself, Abdu Aboki and Helen Morenikeji Ogunwumiju as the three Justices mentioned to have held a meeting with leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP.
But a statement by the Director of Press and Information of the court, Dr. Akande Festus, said that the name of Justice Abdu Aboki was never mentioned in the APC petition.
The Supreme Court statement read in part “We need to state that the news that occupied strategic space in the media yesterday, Wednesday 24th March, 2021, which emanated from a petition purportedly written by the acting chairman of the All Progressives Congress and Governor of Yobe State, Alhaji Mai-Mala Buni against three Justices of the Supreme Court never mentioned the name of Hon. Justice Abdu Aboki even though he is on the panel of five Justices hearing the appeal that resulted from the Imo North Senatorial District Bye Election conducted on 5th October, 2020.
“The information in circulation is not only wrong but equally misleading.
“It is pertinent to state that even though the acting chairman of the APC, Alhaji Mai-Mala Buni has issued a disclaimer of the malicious and baseless petition, there is still need to keep record straight and also to admonish litigants, particularly politicians on the need to be guided by good conscience and decency in all their conducts especially when a case is before a court of competent jurisdiction, as such unguided disposition could send out the wrong signals.
“The Honourable Justices of the Supreme Court who have always been working assiduously to promote the rule of law, impartial and seamless dispensation of justice don’t deserve such orchestrated mudslinging, to say the least” the statement said.
Recall that Buni on Tuesday vehemently denied allegations by the Supreme Court that he wrote a petition against three justices over an alleged meeting with Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) officials regarding the contentious Imo North Senatorial District seat won by the APC. The seat is being contested by two of the party’s members – Ifeanyi Ararume and Francis Ibezim.
Hearing on the case at the apex court was postponed indefinitely on Tuesday over the alleged petition.
In a statement on Tuesday by his spokesperson, Mallam Mamman Mohammed, Buni said: “It has come to my knowledge that an allegation was made against some Supreme court judges, claiming that there was a meeting between their Lordships with the PDP to subvert the cause of Justice in the case of the Imo North Senatorial election.
“I want to make my position abundantly clear and in unambiguous terms that, l Hon. Mai Mala Buni, the Executive Governor of Yobe state and Chairman APC Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee had, at no time personally, said, written or directed anyone to write on my behalf or the party to allege or claim that their Lordships met with members of the PDP or any political party on any matter.
“I must say l am conscious of the positions their Lordships occupy, and would not be a party or associated to such reckless statements against their Lordships.”
“As Leader of APC, l am saddened by such weighty allegation said to be emanating from our party obviously without my consent. On behalf of every member of the party, we distance ourselves from this allegation and sincerely regret the injury and hard feelings this might have caused their Lordships.”
But if Governor Buni did not pen the petition, who did and who delivered it to the court?
The acting national chairman has said the party would do everything to uncover those behind the accusation and petition.
Everyday.ng reports that an angry Supreme Court Justice, Musa Dattijo, on Tuesday lashed out at Buni, describing his action in writing the petition as reckless and irresponsible.
He said, “let me confirm to all counsels in this matter that the Interim National Chairman of the All Progressive Congress (APC) had written a petition against me and two other Justices. of this court, namely Helen Ogunwumiju and Abdu Aboki accusing us of having a meeting with members of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to subvert justice in the case
He said the APC alleged, that “my humble self had led my two brothers to attend a meeting with members of the PDP to strategise on how to subvert the outcome of this case.”
“I must say that this is most unfortunate and my heart bleeds for this country.
“If people as highly placed as the interim chairperson of the APC would open his mouth and make this weighty statement against innocent Justices of this court, then I say my heart bleeds.
“We are not interested in any matter and I challenge him and the party to substantiate his allegation that my humble self attended a meeting with members of the PDP with a view to subverting the interest of their party.
“This is a reckless and irresponsible statement. That is how these useless statements were made in the past and that is why we are not taking it likely.
“If they have honour, let them substantiate their allegations and I will not live a day longer in this court.
“So, this matter is adjourned sine die, and parties should approach the Chief Justice of Nigeria “
The party in the petition signed by its acting national chairman and governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni pointedly accused Justices Mohammed Musa Dattijo, Abdu Aboki and Helen Morenikeji Ogunwumiju of holding nocturnal meetings with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to scheme out the party from the Senate seat.
Yobe governor in the petition claimed that information at the disposal of APC indicated that the three apex Justices held meeting with PDP leadership and allegedly perfected the means of giving the Senatorial seat to the PDP candidate in the bye election.
Justice Dattijo who led a 5-man panel of the apex court said that the APC had by the petition called the integrity, reputation and honour of the three Justices to question and must be resolved first.
Responding, Malam Ahmed Raji SAN, counsel to Senator Ifeanyi Ararume, a senatorial aspirant dissociated himself from the petition adding that he was shocked to hear about the allegations made against the Justices.
“This is very, very shocking. I swear with my last day in this court that I Ahmed Raji knows nothing about this issue and I condemn it with all the strength in me,” he said.
“I sympathise with your lordships and whatever measure your lordships deems appropriate, we are fully in support.”
In his own reaction Mr Umeh Kalu, counsel to the APC said he was just hearing of the petition for the first time.
“I am taken aback by this. I have never in my life met with the interim chairman of the APC,” Kalu said.
“In matters of this nature, we normally deal with the legal adviser.