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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

NBA writes Kano Election Petition Tribunal, demands details on bribery allegation

NBA writes Kano Election Petition Tribunal, demands details on bribery allegation

The Kano branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has demanded full details of the lawyers alleged to be involved in attempt to bribe the chairperson of an Election Petition Tribunal (EPT) panel in the state.

Nigerian Sketch on Tuesday reported how the chairperson of Panel 1 of the EPT in the state, Justice Flora Ngozi Azinge, alleged in open court that some lawyers have been trying to induce her and members of her panel with huge amounts on money. (Read the story here)

The report quoted her as saying “money is flying” and that there was rumour about a staff of the Tribunal collecting N10 million bribe money.

Other online and mainstream Nigerian newspapers also subsequently reported the incident with varying degrees of details.

In its reaction to the judge’s allegation, the NBA in Kano on Wednesday wrote to the EPT to request for further and better details about the bribery allegation.

A source at the EPT told Nigerian Sketch  that the chairman of the Kano branch, Sagir Suleiman Gezawa, signed the letter which was officially received at the Tribunal’s secretariat.

The letter read in part:

“Kindly refer to the widely reported news that Honourable Justice Flora Azinge alleged in open court that some lawyers are trying to bribe My Lord and other honourable members of the Tribunal regarding the petitions pending before them.

“You may wish to refer to some of the following online sources that made the report:

  1. https://nigeriansketch.com/kano-election-petition-tribunal-raises-alarm-over-atempts-to-bribe-judges/
  2. https://dailynigerian.com/election-tribunal-judge-fumes/
  3. https://thenigerialawyer.com/kano-election-tribunal-chair-justice-flora-azinge-exposes-attempted-bribery-by-senior-advocate-of-nigeria-san/
  4. https://punchng.com/n10m-bribery-allegation-rocks-kano-election-petition-tribunal/

“It is on the above background, as an association, we wish to request the Tribunal to furnish us with further details and particulars of the said lawyer(s) because we want to purge ourselves of such characters in our midst. It is collective and collaborative fight that cannot be fought with blanket rhetoric.”

He said also that sanitizing the judicial system is a collective and collaborative fight that must be fought headlong, adding that the NBA, particularly Kano branch, is committed to the fight against corruption.

He said:

“It has come to our knowledge as an association that this is the third time My lord is making similar allegations in open court as My lord earlier alleged that a senior lawyer sent a message requesting for My lord’s contact to share sallah gift. Also My lord reported that a staff of the Tribunal has collected the sum of N10 Million as bribe.

“The above reportage was widely circulated within and outside Nigeria and we believe there is enough talk on this subject, it is now time for action to be taken. As Chairman of Kano Branch, I was directed by the President of the Nigerian Bar to seek audience with My lord and get the necessary details and particulars of the lawyer(s) involved.

“Therefore, kindly bring our request to My lord’s attention swiftly as we cannot wait to take further action.”

The letter was copied to the secretary of the National Judicial Council (NJC), the NBA president and the Director General of the Department of State Security (DSS).

Earlier on Tuesday, Gezawa had said the judge’s allegation has remained mere hearsay because it was not made officially. He lamented in as much as the NBA would like to take up the issue, it could not act on the allegation unless it was channeled through the right means.

Lawyers in the state have reacted to the news by demanding for details saying the legal profession in Nigeria has an effective self-regulatory mechanism to deal with such a situation.

A Kano-based lawyer, Usman Umar Fari, said there’s no lacuna in the law to address issues of this nature.

According to him, “The act is contrary to Rule 34 of the RPC. I think the judge should do the needful by reporting the culprit to the LPDC for disciplinary action.

“By the provision of Rule 55(2) of the RPC, it  is part of the duties of all legal practitioners to report violation of the RPC that comes to his knowledge to the appropriate authorities for necessary disciplinary action.

“Our courts and judges have done so in the past. The Tribunal should not take the issue lightly by only mentioning it. That may not serve as deterrent to others.”

 

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