Afenifere, the pan Yoruba socio-political group, has asked Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, and Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, to step down from office over allegation of attempting to bribe judges.
Also, the mainstream Yoruba organisation warned Fulani herdsmen against attacking Ekiti State over the law enacted by the state government banning grazing activities in the state.
The spokesperson for Afenifere, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, who briefed reporters yesterday after the monthly meeting held in the house of the group’s leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, in Akure, the Ondo State capital, advised President Muhammadu Buhari to constitute sound economic team to help bring out the country from economic downturn.
Flanked by other leaders of the group, Odumakin said Afenifere was not pleased with the way and manner judicial officers were arrested as mere criminals just as he advised the judiciary to cleanse itself of corrupt judicial officers.
Pointedly, Afenifere said the ministers accused of attempting to bribe judicial officers should step down from office pending the conclusion of the investigation so as not to pervert the course of justice.
Afenifere said: “For the ministers who have been mentioned for attempting to pervert the course of justice, we are asking that such ministers should step aside immediately. After that, they should go through due process of the law to either ascertain their innocence or if their guilt established, they should be punished according to the laws of the land.
“We cannot be saying only judges that have been accused should be investigated. Ministers too, who have been accused should step aside and face prosecution.”
Two justices of the Supreme Court had accused Amaechi and Onu of attempting to bribe them in perverting justice in governorship election petitions before the apex court.
Justice John Okoro had in a letter to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmud Mohammed, who is also Chairman of the National Judicial Council (NJC), accused Amaechi of attempting to influence the course of justice in the Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Abia governorship petitions.
Also, Justice Nwali Sylvester Ngwuta accused Amaechi and Onu of approaching him separately to pervert justice in the Ekiti and Ebonyi governorship election petitions.
While lamenting corruption in the third arm of government, Odumakin, however, expressed regret over the manner the judicial officers were arrested by Department of State Services (DSS).
His words: “No society should tolerate corruption because what is on offer and being sold is justice. A corrupt judge is worse than a thief and what is on offer is justice and that negates the soul of any society. Therefore, all society must do all it can to ensure that its judges are free of corruption.
“However, in the present instance, we have a few observations about the modus operandi of the actions against these judges. We believe that it is not the duty of DSS to investigate corruption. Investigating corruption is within the purview of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) and the Police. And if the DSS comes across of any crime that borders on corruption, it is to gather evidences and handover to those agencies of government to ensure that they investigate and prosecute those who are involved in the offence.
“So, we frown at raiding the home of judges, breaking down doors at ungodly hours of the night reserved for armed robbers in the name of fighting corruption. It is wrong for anybody to go to people’s homes about 1a.m. and say I am DSS in a country where the wife of CBN governor was kidnapped by soldiers.”
Although Afenifere said that the judges are not above the law, it, however, said if a judge commits an offence in the course of duty, it is only the National Judicial Council (NJC) that has the power to investigate him and, if found guilty, should be recommended for trial in the law court.
On the menace of the herdsmen, Afenifere wondered why the Myetti Allah would not query the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister when he banned grazing activities in Abuja, but threatened Mr. Ayo Fayose when he outlawed grazing activities in his state.
His words: “We are disappointed and worried that the FCT Minister, who was appointed, ordered herdsmen to leave Abuja and they complied; but in Ekiti State, where they have an elected government, the House of Assembly made a law and what the herdsmen have resorted to, under Myetti Allah, is to harass the governor, threaten him rather than obey the laws of the land.”
“Afenifere calls on those who are in position to call these herdsmen to order immediately because what they are doing in Ekiti State is capable of bringing untold and unnecessary crises which we must avoid as a nation.”
On the state of the economy, Afenifere advised the president to look for the best hands and brains in economics across the land and constitute them into Economic Team to formulate policies and economic programmes that would take this nation out of recession.