8th March, 2011
Honourable Dimeji Bankole, the Speaker of House of Representatives has denied that he toldÂ Robin Sanders, former United States Ambassador to Nigeria that the late President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua had bribed justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria to obtain favourable judgment in the suits instituted to challenge his victory in the 2007 presidential polls.
This was in response to a story in a national newspaper today alleging that the Speaker told the former US Ambassador that Yarâ€™Adua bribed his way to obtain favourable judgments over his two opponents- General Muhammadu Buhari and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar who contested against him and had dragged him to court over the results of the 2007 presidential polls.
In the same vein, the Speaker in a statement signed by Kayode Odunaro, his Special Adviser on Communications denied ever denigrating the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC in a discussion with the former US Ambassador.
Bankole also claimed that he met the fomer US Ambassador in company of other leaders of the House contrary to the claims of the account of the meeting with the envoy contained in United States cables as leaked by Wikileaks which the newspaper relied upon to write the story.
The statement reads:Â â€œThe attention of the Office of Speaker, House of Representatives has been drawn to the publication in some media quoting ‘Wikileaks’ alleging that Rt. Hon. Dimeji Bankole, Speaker of House of Representatives says that Supreme Court judges took bribes to validate Yar’Adua/Jonathan election as well as describing EFCC as ‘not worth a penny!’
â€œWe deny in strongest terms that Speaker Bankole ever made such allegations or statement against respected justices of the Supreme Court and the anti-corruption agency, EFCC in any meeting with the then US Ambassador, Ms. Robin Sanders.
â€œThe official meeting Ms. Sanders had with Mr. Speaker was in presence of leadership of the House and did not last more than 20 minutes.
â€œIt is a lie that Mr. Speaker had a two hour private meeting with Ms. Sanders. The Office of the Speaker challenges US officials to authenticate this wild allegations that strike at the integrity of Nigeria’s judicial institution and its foremost anti-corruption agencies.
â€œIt is an open an open secret the cordial relationship that existed between the late President Yar’Adua and the Speaker aside the fact that he is part of the Yar’adua government.
â€œHe could not have made an allegation against the justices which impugn on the Yar’adua government. We are however surprised that any Nigerian medium could give credence to and publish what in essence could be mere gossip and unconfirmed summary of diplomats trying to get a grip of issues on-going in their host countries for their home government.
â€œWe want to counsel media organisations that such sensational allegations bordering on crime against the highest judicial officers of the land and its foremost anti-corruption agencies should be handled more responsibly with full and verifiable authentication from all parties in the interest of protecting the institution of judiciary, the last hope of the common man,â€ the statement concluded.
By Oluokun Ayorinde/Abuja