Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja
The Presidency on Sunday broke its silence on the allegations of inducements raised by two of the judges arrested recently, saying President Muhammadu Buhari would never authorise anybody to induce a judge to pervert the course of justice.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said this in a statement made available to journalists in Abuja.
It was the Presidency’s first official reaction to two of the embattled judges who claimed that the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, approached them allegedly on the instruction of the President to influence decisions on election cases.
A Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, who was one of those arrested by the Department of State Services had in a letter dated October 18, and addressed to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, claimed that Amaechi had impressed it upon him that the President was interested in the judgments of the Supreme Court on Ekiti and Rivers elections going in favour of the All Progressives Congress.
Another Justice, Justice John Okoro, had also claimed that Amaechi told him that the President and the APC mandated him to inform him (Okoro) that they must win their election appeals in Rivers, Akwa Inom and Abia States at all costs.
But Shehu, in the statement, advised journalists and other Nigerians to stop linking Buhari to the travails of the judges.
“President Muhammadu Buhari would be the last person to authorise anybody to induce a judge to pervert the course of justice,” he said.
The presidential aide noted that despite his personal familiarity with some court judges, the President had never used that familiarity to seek favours from them from 2003, 2007 and 2011 when he was challenging the fairness of the presidential election results, from the lowest to the highest courts in the land.
He said as a politician, Buhari had never suggested to his lawyers to approach any judge for assistance to win his cases.
He said the President lives by this principle and has never deviated from it.
On the fate of the judges facing corruption allegations, Shehu said the President does not tell courts how to do their jobs and that anybody accused of corruption is protected by law to defend their innocence.
He explained that the purpose of the law is to punish the guilty and acquit the innocent, noting that the law protects the rights everyone.
Shehu said the President did not have any powers to force any court to convict anybody who is innocent, arguing that in a democratic society, that cannot happen without resistance by the people.