Strongest indications yet regarding why Governor Wike of Rivers State is said to be jittery over the on-going clamp-down of alleged corrupt judges may have emerged.
On Saturday, Wike physically obstructed operatives of the Department of Security Services (DSS) from effecting the arrest of Justice Mohammed Liman of the Federal High Court Port-Harcout for alleged corrupt practices.
Speaking on Tuesday, Okoi Obono-Obla, a top ranking official of the Ministry of Justice and a senior aide of the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, claimed that the DSS had been investigating suspicious transfers of about N30 billion from the coffers of Rivers State government in the period leading up to the Supreme Court judgment on the disputed gubernatorial election.
Obla’s revelations, made over a live programme on Channels Television, came three days after Wike led a team of Rivers State government officials to stop the arrest of Justice Liman. He alluded to security concerns that a substantial part of the N30 billion may have been used to bribe Supreme Court Judges.
The governor’s controversial intervention has received wide condemnations but he maintains that, as the Chief Security Officer of the State, he acted in the best interest of the public. Wike has also denied bribing Supreme Court judges enroute becoming the governor of Rivers State, alleging that his current travails are largely instigated by the presidency and that plans are being perfected to declare a state of emergency on the state.
The DSS however, claims that about $2m may have been smuggled out of Liman’s home while their unsuccessful siege lasted, putting the blame squarely on Governor Wike. There are strong speculations that Liman may have taken bribes from Wike to give favourable judgment to the Ahmed Makarfi-led faction of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Doubts persists, however, over the role played by some Supreme Court judges in the Rivers election debacle. Justices John Inyang Okoro and Sylvester Ngwuta, who were among seven others arrested on Saturday across different parts of the country, had long been speculated to be co-conspirators in the plot that brought Wike to Power.
They allegedly worked with Justice Mary Odili of the Supreme Court, wife of former governor of Rivers State, Peter Odili, who is also a chieftain of the PDP. Justice Odili was, however, not a member of the Supreme Court panel that decided Wike’s fate.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday submitted to the Senate, a list of two nominees as Supreme Court justices. They are Paul Jauro and Sidi Bage. It is, however, not clear if their nominations are connected to the fate of Justices Okoro and Ngwuta or if the President is basically seeking to fill existing vacancies at the apex Court.
As the full clamp-down on corrupt judges continues, Nigerians are waiting to learn the latest on the DSS ‘sting operations’ and the Obla revelation, especially as it concerns the alleged N30billion said to have been suspiciously transferred from Rivers State government coffers earlier in the year.