Former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, has condemned social media reports linking him with bribery allegations against Supreme Court judges.
The State Security Services (SSS), over the weekend arrested seven judges, including two justices of the Supreme Court, in multiple raids across Nigeria. The SSS accused the judges of bribery and corruption.
Mr. Akpabio, who is the Senate Minority Leader, described as “spurious, baseless and false”, a story published on the social media that he bribed Supreme Court judges to swing the 2015 Akwa Ibom governorship election petition in favour of the Peoples Democratic Party candidate, Udom Emmanuel.
The All Progressives Congress in the state, in February, had asked President Muhammadu Buhari to probe the Supreme Court judgment which declared Mr. Emmanuel winner of the 2015 Akwa Ibom governorship election.
“We wish to state most emphatically that Senator Akpabio is in no way involved in the alleged bribery of Supreme Court judges and so has no reason whatsoever to be scared over the arrest of the Judges,” Mr. Akpabio said on Sunday through a statement issued by his Special Assistant on Media, Anietie Ekong.
The senator, who accused the APC in the state of sponsoring the story against him, said he never had any contact with any judge with the intention to offer bribe. He said he was exploring the option of going to court to protect his reputation.
The senator said it was sad for the APC in Akwa Ibom to celebrate the ordeals of one of the arrested judges of the Supreme Court, Justice Inyang Okoro, who is an indigene of the state, instead of the party to wait for the SSS to conclude its investigations.
He said “in the last few years” the only time he had contact with Supreme Court justices was in December last year when the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, in which he is the vice chairman, visited the Chief Justice of the Federation and other judges of the apex court.
“Senator Akpabio, as a democrat, believes in the sanctity of the electoral process and so has not been involved in bribing any Judge as it is not in his character to do so. His election as a Senator which was seen as a no contest after a sterling performance as Governor of Akwa Ibom State was widely held as free and fair,” the statement said.
“Senator Akpabio like many other Nigerians learnt of the news of the arrest of the Judges/ Justices on Saturday while he was in Irrua, Edo State when he along with the Senate President and other Senators attended the wedding of the daughter of their colleague, Senator Clifford Ordia.
“It is most disingenuous and reprehensible for Akwa Ibom State APC to attempt to link Senator Akpabio to something he has no knowledge of and impute he was gripped with fear when he was busy celebrating with his colleague on the marriage of his daughter in Irrua, Esan Central Local Government of Edo State.
“We condemn it in very strong terms and advice those whose stock in trade and preoccupation is to link Senator Akpabio to every ignominious scheme to desist from such pull-him-down syndrome.”
The Akwa Ibom state government has also issued a statement condemning similar media reports that linked Governor Emmanuel’s election to bribery.