Justice Ibrahim Auta, the Chief Justice of the Federal High Court of Nigeria, may well be neck deep in the corruption that led to last weekend’s arrest of some high court judges by the Department of State Security (DSS).
Investigators said Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court in Abuja, in whose home over $550,000 was allegedly found during the raid, has confessed to a deal between him and Chief Judge Auta by which $300,000 of the physical cash found in his bedroom was to have been shared between the two men. He said only $50,000 belonged to him in the deal, indicating that the CJ was awaiting his share when the DSS operatives swooped in on his residence and arrested him on Saturday night. It is unclear to whom the balance of $200,000 would have gone.
Asked if that had been the pattern of bribery for the CJ, he answered in the affirmative, saying that several High Court judges are assigned lucrative cases by the CJ, who then requests them to collect the bribes in dollars and transfer to him physically at home.
He revealed that the CJ has received monies from him several times after matching him with high profile cases that are then settled in favor of the highest bidders.
Our reporter learnt that CJ Auta was quizzed and then quietly released yesterday by the DSS, but the department has not officially confirmed either his arrest or interrogation.
Powerful interests are pushing back against the arrest of corrupt judges. Our reporter has however learnt that four, including Appellate Court judge Uwani Abba-Aji, are in line to be arrested. We also reliably learnt that Mrs. Abba-Aji was dropped from the list of judges to be elevated to the Supreme Court.
Justice Mohammed Yunusa, who was bribed by Ricky Tarfa, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Munir Ladan, and Bashir Sukola, both of the Kaduna High Court, are also due for arrest and interrogation, unless DSS is somehow stopped from its ongoing action against corrupt judges.
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