Allegations are blatant lies from his imagination — PRESIDENCY
By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief & Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA — Former Chief of Army Staff, COAS, Lt. Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi (retd), has dragged Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo into a bribery allegation in which the retired General accused him of having protected Justice Ade Alabi, who was accused of demanding a N10 million bribe from the accused persons standing trial before his court.
Prof. Osinbajo, was the Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice in 1999 when General Bamaiyi and others were tried over their alleged involvement in the attempt on the life of Late Mr. Alex Ibru.
Meanwhile, the Presidency has denied the involvement of Osinbajo in the bribery allegation.
Reacting to Vanguard’s enquiries on the involvement of Osinbajo who was Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General of Lagos State at the time of the incident, the Presidency through the Vice-President’s spokesman, Mr. Laolu Akande in a statement said that Osinbajo was never called to Abuja or given any form of instruction on how to resolve the case.
“Equally, the shifty recollections of the retired General about Prof. Osinbajo bringing a panel report with pages missing is as ludicrous as it is incongruous. For instance, is the author saying the then Lagos State Attorney-General was responsible for the NJC panel report? That would be incredible and clearly a mischievous proposition,” Laolu added.
Gen. Bamaiyi, in his book, “Vindication of A General,” alleged that Prof. Osinbajo and Justice Alabi, had been summoned to Abuja and given a directive to convict him and others within six months. He also alleged that Justice Alabi demanded a N10 million bribe from him to grant his bail application, which was pending before the judge.
Gen. Bamayi said he refused and petitioned the National Judicial Council, NJC, against Justice Alabi but that even though a panel led by Justice B.O. Babalakin, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court was set up, the report was doctored by Prof. Osinbajo and Justice Alabi was not punished.
Bamaiyi in the book, also said that the messenger, one Mr. Martins, died under suspicious circumstances and the report of the investigation into his death was not made public.
His words: “We were in prison until we were taken to court in Lagos on December 22, 1999 to face Justice Alabi, who was said to have been called to Abuja with the Attorney-General and Lagos State Commissioner for Justice, Prof. Osinbajo.
“They were said to have been directed to convict us at all costs within six months. Unknown to our persecutors, we had a lot of sympathy within the Presidency, the Police, and the DSS. As such, whatever instructions were passed to them got to us within a short while. I applied for bail even though I knew it would not be granted. After the argument by my counsel and the counter-argument by the state, led by the A-G, the case was adjourned without a date for ruling on my bail application.
“After some days, one Mr. Martins came to prison to visit Al Mustapha, who came and told me that he had been sent by Justice Ade Alabi to discuss my bail issue. He told me the judge was ready to grant me bail if I would give him N10 million.
“We discussed this with Al Mustapha and I expressed my fears regarding Mr. Martin’s message. We told Mr. Martins to prove that Justice Alabi had really sent him. He left, but after about two weeks, he came back and told us that when next we went to court, the trial judge would give us two months for the ruling on the bail application. This would be his proof that the judge had sent him.
“He said the judge was aware we were in prison and needed time to get money. At our next court appearance, the judge adjourned for two months. This proved to us that Mr. Martins was genuine.
“I informed my counsel, Mr. Mike Okoye, who argued the bail application. He said we should think about it and that he would try to find out the matter. We waited until I decided that I would give nobody any money.
“One day in court, Al Mustapha got fed up and challenged the judge. At the next court date, I asked the judge for permission to speak. He initially hesitated but changed his mind. I believe he thought I was going to apologize for Al Mustapha’s action during the previous hearing. I started by saying, ‘I have respect for the rule of law and the judiciary. I also have respect for this court.’ This made the judge relax. I quickly added, ‘But a situation where the judge sends people to collect money from accused persons is unacceptable. You know what I am talking about.’ The judge ordered me to sit down. I did because I had said what I had wanted to say.
“Afterwards, we petitioned the National Judicial Council, NJC, against Justice Alabi. He wanted to continue with the case against the advice of lawyers and some judges. Eventually, he was forced to return the case file to the administrative judge.
“The NJC then decided to investigate our allegation. On March 25 to 27, at the Kirikiri Magistrate Court, the panel, headed by a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, started hearing our petition. Unknown to us, the panel had decided to protect Justice Alabi who was working for the government.
“The panel was made up of Justice B.O. Babalakin (Chairman); Amb. M.L. Sambo (member) and T.J. Onomigbo Okpoko, SAN (member).
“Justice Ade Alabi brought in Chief Afe Babalola, SAN as lead counsel and he came with Chief Ladi Williams, SAN, Prof. G.A Olawotin, SAN; Kola Awioderin, SAN, Ikenwa Okoli , Gboyega Oyewole, Adebayo Aderipekun. Justice Alabi was docked and examined by Chief Afe Babalola who led him in evidence. He was then cross-examined by Y.C. Maikyau, Bala Ibn Na’Allah and Jingi.
“They succeeded in stopping members of the press from covering theses proceedings. Later we got to know why the press was barred from the panel. The panel report was full of lies. The panel report stated that Justice Alabi was not docked and was not cross-examined by our counsel. I only hope Afe Babalola did not see that panel report. These are clear lies, as Justice Alabi was docked and cross-examined.
“Prof. Osinbajo brought what he said was the panel report during one of the motions. Unfortunately, pages one through 29 of the report were not produced. This was very clear because we, the petitioners, gave evidence and Justice Alabi was examined and cross-examined.
“I believe the missing pages contained our statements and the examination and cross-examination of Justice Alabi by our counsels. I believe these actions are understandable because Justice Ade Alabi was given an assignment to carry out injustice and he had to be protected by those who had given him the assignment.
“We were disappointed with the former Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Babalakin, who disrespected himself and let down all justices of the Supreme Court. Even in retirement, they should be honourable.
“I am looking forward to the day we see the complete report of the panel and the statements made by those who gave evidence. We also hope the investigation of the death of Mr. Martins under suspicious circumstances will be made available one day.”
Reacting to Bamayi’s assertions, Vice President Osinbajo, through Akande, said, “ My attention has been drawn to claims made by General Bamaiyi in his book Vindication of a General, where he alleged that the then Attorney-General of Lagos State, Osinbajo, the trial judge, (in the criminal case of his “involvement” in the shooting of Alex Ibru) Justice Ade Alabi and the State Police Commissioner were called to Abuja and “directed to convict us at all costs within six months.”
That Justice Ade Alabi asked for a N10m bribe through “one Mr. Martin” to facilitate his bail application in the case, and that the National Judicial Council panel composed to investigate the bribery allegation, protected the Judge.
Specifically that Prof. Osinbajo “brought what he said was the panel report during one of the motions. Unfortunately, pages one through twenty-nine of the report were not produced.”While the Vice President, Osinbajo would take more comprehensive steps to address the evil insinuations made by the retired General, I have confirmed from him, i.e. Prof. Osinbajo, that he was never called to Abuja or at any time given any instructions on how to resolve the case. This blatant lie arose only from the fertile imagination of the author.
Equally, the shifty recollections of the retired General about Prof. Osinbajo bringing a panel report with pages missing is as ludicrous as it is incongruous. For instance, is the author saying the then Lagos State Attorney-General was responsible for the NJC panel report? That would be incredible and clearly a mischievous proposition.
Or is the author suggesting that the then Attorney-General had anything to do with the the work of the NJC panel, such as improperly influencing it? That certainly could not have happened considering the well-known personal commitment — over the times — of the Vice President to integrity and his forthright professional adherence.
In any case, the author himself listed in his book the names of the notable legal personalities that composed the panel and completed its work, finding that the author had only told nothing but lies concerning the bribery allegation against Justice Alabi.
Finally, it is a matter of public record that the general’s lawyer — Mike Okoye — who argued the bail application for Bamaiyi, confessed in open court and in several newspaper public notices — as ordered by Court — that he lied against Justice Alabi. The lawyer, Mike Okoye was indeed charged for Contempt of Court on the matter.
Okoye actually had to read his confession and apology in the open court in a case that involved such prominent lawyers like Chief F.R.A Williams, who in particular pressed that Okoye be held fully responsible for his wild accusations. It is incredible that after all of this, the author went on to mislead the public. What impudence!
These are facts that can be easily cross-checked. The records of the trial against Okoye and the referral of the matter by the then Lagos State High Court Judge, Mr. Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour, now of the Supreme Court, to the Disciplinary Committee of the Bar are all available in the Lagos State judiciary.
It is unimaginable that the author would choose to openly lie about the facts of a matter and issue that Nigerians are well aware of, and for which the truth is not so far-to-fetch. Like I said, Prof. Osinbajo reserves his right to taking more comprehensive steps on this matter, as this is only an interim intervention I have chosen to take, to shed more light on this matter due to the news deadline.”