– Three judges of the Appeal Court have been accused of receiving N350 million bribe from Ondo state governor Olusegun Mimiko
– The bribe was allegedly given to influence ruling on the Ondo state PDP leadership tussle
– This allegation is contained in a petition by Biyi Poroye against the three-member panel of judges over the matter
On Tuesday, November 1, three Appeal Court judges refused to appear for ruling on an application filed by the former governor of Kaduna state Ahmed Makarfi over a Federal High Court judgement.
The Makarfi-led faction of the Peoples Democratic Party in their appeal had asked the appellate court to nullify a judgement by Justice Okon Abang insisting that Jimoh Ibrahim is the authentic candidate for the PDP in Ondo state.
However, ruling on the matter was stalled following a petition by a member of the Ali Modu-Sheriff faction accusing the Appeal Court judges of judicial misconduct.
The judges were also accused of compromising their position on the matter.
In his petition sent to the president of the court Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, Biyi Poroye said the judges over the matter received a N350 million bribe to rule in favour of the Makarfi faction.
The bribe, Poroye – a factional chairman of the Ondo chapter of the party – alleged was received from the Ondo state governor, Olusegun Mimiko.
Poroye said the state governor had boated to his Rivers state colleague Nyesom Wike in public that he had settled the judges with N350 million.
Copied in his petition were: President Muhammadu Buhari, the chief justice of Nigeria Mahmud Mohammed and members of the panel.
Also, Poroye in an affidavit said he believed the judges had been compromised because the lead judge Jumai Sankey was prone to corruption.
The petitioner said Sankey had also been sick for a long while – five years – and therefore prone to corruption.
Meanwhile, the Ondo PDP chapter has said it would not be distracted nor succumb to the judicial ambush against it.
The party also called for the immediate arrest of Poroye saying he must be mandated to substantiate his claims against the governor and the judges.
However speaking on the petition, Justice Sankey drawing the attention of the counsels to the petition said: “Conscience is an open wound, only truth can heal it. Why did he run out of court when he has the audacity to append his signature on the shameless petition and the affidavit.”
She said: “It is said that 99 days is for the thief, only one day is for the owner. It is painful that the petitioner used my ailment predicament to insult me, to allege that I am a poor judge, that I was sick for five years and prone to corruption.”
“I am ready to carry my illness on my shoulder, but it is unfair for the petitioner to make my sickness an issue in his petition.”
She further said that since no fact had been put forward before the court to establish a case of likelihood of bias and since lawyers in this matter have all denied knowledge of the petition,she and her team would disqualify themselves from the matter.
“But it is a settled law that when a case of likelihood of bias has been raised in a petition, it has to be looked into, even if the petition is frivolous.
“We consider it necessary to disqualify ourselves from all petitions in respect of Ondo PDP governorship matters.
“We hereby step down from this matter and the case files are to be returned for re-assignment to another panel,” she said.