The National Judicial Council (NJC), on Friday, denied a N10 billion bribe allegation levelled against its Secretary, Gambo Saleh.
Aliyu Mohammed, had on behalf of ‘Concerned Staff of the Supreme Court,’ sent a petition dated 1 June 2022, to the EFCC, accusing Mr Gambo of embezzling N2.2 billion from the Supreme Court.
The petitioner also accused Mr Saleh of receiving bribes worth N10 billion from some Supreme Court contractors and selling off a property belonging to the Supreme Court at the Aso Rock Villa.
But reacting to the claims which was published by an online newspaper, Peoples Gazette, NJC’s spokesperson, Soji Oye, said Mr Saleh was only appointed Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court in 2014 and Secretary of the NJC in 2017.
Mr Oye in a statement issued on Friday said, “Mr Sale could not have diverted the said funds prior to his appointments.”
The NJC while faulting the petition claimed that Mr Saleh is the Secretary of the NJC and not the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court as contained in the publication by Peoples Gazette.
“The attention of the National Judicial Council (NJC) has been drawn to the fallacious publication by an online newspaper Peoples Gazette accusing the Secretary of the National Judicial Council, Ahmed Gambo Saleh of involvement in ‘N10 billion bribe and federal racketeering’,” the statement said.
It noted that the author of the “fictitious petition and publication (Peoples Gazette) did not name a single contractor from whom the purported N10 billion was alleged to have been collected.”
‘Mr Saleh didn’t sell off Supreme Court property’
The petioner accused Mr Saleh of “conniving with one Mr Surajo Tanko, purported to be son of the immediate past CJN, to sell off the residence of a Supreme Court Justice in the Aso Rock villa without the knowledge of Honourable Justice Dr I.T Muhammad GCON.”
But denying the allegation, the NJC disclosed that the said property located on 10 Ibrahim Taiwo Street on the way to the Villa was once occupied by the then CJN (Mr Muhammad) before he relocated to his official residence.
“The house was next to House No: 11 occupied by the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), and on their request and approval by President Muhammadu Buhari for an expansion of NFIU office, both houses were demolished for that purpose. Another house within the Villa was, however, approved for the use of the Supreme Court,” the statement stated.
On the issue of “withholding funds meant for purchasing exotic vehicles usually assigned to newly sworn in Justices of the Supreme Court,” the NJC said Mr Saleh is no longer the Chief Registrar of the apex court.
“Mr Ahmed Gambo Saleh as the NJC Secretary does not superintend over the affairs of the Supreme Court because they are two distinct entities.
“On the allegation of diverting N2.2 billion to his personal United Bank for Africa (UBA) account number 2027642863, the truth is that the said account is the operational account of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, which can be verified by anyone
“Besides, the N2.2 billion was the total transaction in the account of the Supreme Court from 2009 to 2016.”
The statement added that “the petitioner only used the said (bank) account number which does not belong to Mr Saleh to deliberately and maliciously mislead members of the public.”
‘Evil forces out to malign Mr Saleh’
The NJC said the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, withdrew the N2.2 billion fraud charges against Mr Saleh when it was discovered that the charges could not be substantiated.
It said the charges were dropped without any plea bargaining, contrary to reports that Mr Saleh entered a plea bargain agreement with the federal government.
“…Before his emergence as the Secretary of the NJC, some forces who tried to scuttle his appointment as the secretary of the Council have re-emerged with antics aimed at tarnishing his image and bringing his good name to disrepute.”
“It should be noted that there has never been a time when Mr Saleh admitted committing any crime before anybody or law court.
“It is important to reiterate that there is no iota of credibility in the petition as they are not after the truth but are out to smear the good image of Ahmed Gambo Saleh at all cost,” the statement said.
Mr. Saleh, Muhammed Sharif, and Rilwanu Lawal, were accused of the N2.2 billion fraud.
The charges, filed on 3 November 2016 at FCT High Court of the Federal Capital Territory by the Attorney General of the Federation, said the accused persons diverted N2.2 billion and received bribes amounting to tens of millions of naira.
Thereafter, Mr Saleh was appointed Secretary of the NJC in 2017.
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