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Us Embassy Eveasdropping On Nigerian Justices - Politics - Nairaland

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Us Embassy Eveasdropping On Nigerian Justices by Lagosboy: 3:51pm On Sep 08, 2011
A cable that emanated from the US embassy disclosed that Andy Uba, a former senior assistant on domestic matters to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, offered a bribe of N200 million to retired Chief Justice Idris Kutigi in an attempt to compromise the Supreme Court ahead of the 2007 presidential poll. According to the cable report, Mr. Uba arrived at the CJ’s office in the company of controversial businessman, Emeka Offor. Quoting a source in Mr. Kutigi’s office, the cable revealed that the then chief justice rejected the bait and asked both Mr. Uba and Mr. Offor to leave his office.

The cable suggested that the two emissaries were acting on behalf of former President Olusegun Obasanjo who sought to have his estranged deputy, Atiku Abubakar, excluded from running in the 2007 presidential elections.

The cable also revealed how Mr. Obasanjo used the Etsu Nupe, the foremost traditional ruler from the Chief Justice’s home state, to offer Mr. Kutigi another bribe of N400 million. The cable stated that the former Chief Justice also rejected that offer.

Full details of the cable follow below:

Hide header C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 000841 SIPDIS SIPDIS DOE FOR CAROLYN man-lover E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/29/2017 TAGS: PGOV [Internal Governmental [b]Affairs], KDEM [Democratization], NI [Nigeria], ELECTIONS SUBJECT: SUPREME COURT'S MOOD COLORED BY ELECTIONS AND BRIBERY ATTEMPTS ABUJA 00000841 001.2 OF 002 Classified By: Ambassador John Campbell for reasons 1.4 (b) & (d). ¶1. (C) SUMMARY:

In upcoming weeks, the mood of the Supreme Court may well be an important factor in determining how many of the recently concluded "elections" stand. In the past three weeks its rulings on the myriad lawsuits brought by President Obasanjo and Vice President Atiku in their political battle provide a glimpse of its approach and mood. Court thinking may be colored by the unsuccessful attempts to influence the current Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Idris Kutigi through bribery. While this glimpse is not intended accurately to predict outcomes of elections tribunals, it might indicate that the judiciary will show greater independence than after the elections of 2003. END SUMMARY.

¶2. (C) In the upcoming weeks, the mood of the Supreme Court may well be an important factor in determining how many of the recently concluded "elections" stand. In the past three weeks, court rulings on the myriad lawsuits brought by President Obasanjo and Vice President Atiku over the political battle between the two top elected leaders may provide an indication of its future direction. In the two biggest cases, one determining whether the National Electoral Commission (INEC) had the right to disqualify candidates, and the second on the validity of the hastily convened Administrative Panel to indict Atiku, the court came out against the use of the Presidency's powers to manipulate the electoral environment. And Chief Justice Kutigi, in establishing the elections tribunals several weeks ago, stressed to the judges selected for the panels the importance of dealing with cases quickly. He also warned the electoral tribunal judges against being influenced by bribery and political pressure, stating that those who succumbed could be dealt with through the National Judicial Council, and those found wanting could be removed from their positions.

¶3. (C) Kutigi appears to be reacting strongly to several credibly reported attempts to sideline him or to co-opt him for political purposes. A member of the Chief Justice's staff told PolCouns that the Presidency had attempted to bribe Kutigi twice before the elections. In the first case, the President personally contacted Kutigi to offer Kutigi's son an appointment as a Federal judge. Kutigi is said to have demurred, saying that he wanted nothing that might be seen as favoritism and was concerned that his son should be appointed in the future on his own merits. Nevertheless, Kutigi's son was nominated.

¶4. (C) According to the same source, the second attempt came when the President's former special adviser and current Governor-elect for Anambra state, Andy Uba, visited Kutigi's office on April 10 accompanied by Anambra businessman Emeka Offor. The aide says the two offered Kutigi 200 million Naira (about $1.6 million) to drop the suit by Atiku and leave him off the ballot. Kutigi, according to the aide "reacted strongly" to the offer and escorted them out of his office. The next day, President Obasanjo declared a two-day holiday ahead of the April 14 elections, delaying the decision in the Atiku suit until the following week.

¶5. (C) A third attempt reportedly took place on April 24, when Kutigi was summoned to meet the Etsu Nupe, the paramount traditional ruler from his home state. According to a member of the Nupe council of chiefs, the Etsu Nupe offered Kutigi 400 million Naira (about $3.2 million) from "the Presidency" in exchange for "control" over which specific cases the elections tribunals would overturn results. According to the source, Kutigi was livid. He told the Etsu that he had no desire to explain to his family "where this kind of money comes from" and pointed out that, at his age, he would be "meeting the angels" to answer for his life very soon. "And they will not be asking me for Naira," he is said to have concluded. When the Etsu discussed the situation with his council, several of them reportedly berated the Etsu for "even suggesting" that Kutigi could be bribed and advised him to return the cash to its source as soon as possible.

¶6. (C) On April 26, rumors began circulating that Kutigi's official vehicle had come under attack in Abuja by "unknown ABUJA 00000841 002.2 OF 002 gunmen." Reportedly, shots were fired at the Chief Justice's car and he was whisked to safety by his security aide. Post has been unable to confirm this rumor, but it is widely believed by Nigerians to be true.

¶7. (C) [bold][/b]On the same evening, PolCouns overheard phone calls from three Supreme Court Justices, including the Chief Justice, to members of ANPP Presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari's entourage. Two of them were expressing sympathy with Buhari over the elections and assuring him of the judiciary's impartiality. The third call - a Justice from the Southwest - also encouraged Buhari personally to forge ahead with the elections tribunals because, in the words of the Justice, "we are fed up with the pretense of democracy" pushed by President Obasanjo.
¶8. (C) COMMENT: While this glimpse is not intended accurately to predict outcomes of elections tribunals, it is an indictor of the mood within elements of the Judiciary. Given the widespread public concerns about the electoral process, the Judiciary could take a more active role in these tribunals than it did in 2003. If these indications are correct, it could signal that the judiciary is prepared to be more independent that it was after the elections of 2003. CAMPBELL

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