The case of the Facebook post of the Lagos State Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Joe Igbokwe, accusing the Supreme Court of selling justice to the Governor of Rivers State, Mr. Nyesom Wike, has taken a new dimension, as a Lagos-based human rights lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, has filed an action before the Federal High Court in Lagos, seeking to sanction Igbokwe for what he considered to be his reckless utterance against the judiciary.
The defendants in the suit are the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Igbokwe.
In the suit, Adegboruwa is asking the court to direct the AGF and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), to invite the APC chieftain for interview in order to give him the opportunity to substantiate his allegation against the judiciary, failing which he should be prosecuted and sanctioned.
He is also asking Igbokwe to step down and vacate his office as General Manager of Lagos State Wharf Land Fee Collecting Authority and Publicity Secretary of the APC.
Adegboruwa said Igbokwe is not a fit and proper person to be elected or appointed into any public office in any part of Nigeria.
On July 16, 2018, at about 15:20p.m, Igbokwe published the following statement on his facebook page:“Wike will not have the audacity and the temerity to kill again in Rivers State and run to the Supreme Court to buy justice. It will never happen again in nigeria where buhari is the president.”
Adegboruwa stated that upon reading it, he immediately took up Igbokwe, to substantiate the allegation.
Similarly, the Rivers State Government also demanded explanations from Igbokwe and threatened court action.
Subsequently, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, invited security agencies to probe Igbokwe’s allegations and deal with the judges found culpable and if the allegations are false, to take appropriate steps to prosecute him.
He said rather than withdraw the offending post, Igbokwe proceeded to issue a more comprehensive post, wherein he specifically stated that the Chief Justice of Nigeria was under the influence and payroll of Wike.
In a 32 paragraph affidavit deposed to in support of the new suit, Adegboruwa is claiming that Igbokwe’s post is capable of generating loss of confidence in the judicial system, which would discourage people from seeking redress from the law courts and would in turn lead to lawlessness and resort to self-help and rule of the might.
He also said it would lead to loss of patronage for lawyers, who would no longer be able to handle cases in court, given that it is now possible to buy justice with money.
The activist is contending that as a public officer, Igbokwe should not be involved in disparaging other public institutions and that his offending post was a clear case of abuse of public trust for which he should be sanctioned appropriately.
He contended further that the AGF, being the leader of the official Bar in Nigeria and chief law officer of the federation, is the one best placed to take up the case against Igbokwe, on behalf of the judiciary, lawyers and indeed the general public.
Among other reliefs sought in the case are: a declaration that the 2nd defendant is not entitled to make any statement to the effect that a judgment of the Supreme Court of Nigeria was bought and paid for; a declaration that the statement of the 2nd defendant, to the effect that the judgment of the Supreme Court of Nigeria was bought and paid for is reckless, unjustifiable and amounts to an unwarranted denigration of the integrity and authority of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in particular and the judiciary in general.
He asked the court for an order directing the 1st defendant to forthwith interview, engage and demand proof from the 2nd defendant, of the latter’s statement that the judgment of the Supreme Court of Nigeria was bought and paid for, failing which the said 1st defendant should forthwith prosecute the said 2nd defendant.
The case is yet to be assigned to any court for hearing.