The National Judicial Council (NJC), on Friday, in Abuja debunked a media report that its Executive Secretary, Mr Ahmed Gambo Saleh, was involved in the alleged collection of N10 billion from the Supreme Court contractors.
The Council while faulting the publication claimed that Saleh is the Secretary of the NJC and not the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court as contained in the publication by an online platform.
NJC’s Director of Information, Mr Soji Oye, while debunking the offending publication, pleaded with the media to always get their facts clear so as not to mislead the Nigerian public.
The NJC’s position as made public by Barrister Soji Oye read in part “The attention of the National Judicial Council (NJC) has been drawn to a 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 baseless publication went further to state that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is investigating the imaginary petition written by a faceless individual, Aliyu Mohammed, on behalf of ‘Concerned Supreme Court Staff.’
“On enquiry, some credible journalists who got the petition and the NJC have discovered that there is no staff by the name Aliyu Mohammed on the Supreme Court staff list and his phone number, 07023358355 on the petition does not exist.
In the publication, it was alleged: “that the EFCC has launched a probe into the racketeering by Supreme Court Chief Registrar Ahmed Gambo Saleh, said to have gobbled up over N10 billion in bribes from Court contractors and other persons with criminal cases with the judiciary.”
“On the publication alleging collection of N10 billion from Supreme Court contractors, Ahmed Gambo Saleh is not the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court.
“In fact, Mr Saleh left the Supreme Court in 2017 and could not have been awarding contracts in any capacity on behalf of the apex court.
“It is worrisome that the writer of the fictitious petition and publication (Peoples Gazette) did not name a single contractor or group from whom the purported N10 billion was allegedly collected.
“Mr Saleh was also accused of conniving with one Mr Surajo Tanko, purported to be the 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.
“It may interest the public to know that the said house No 10 Ibrahim Taiwo Street on the way to the Villa was once occupied by the then CJN 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.
“How then could Mr Saleh have sold the house in question?
“Mr Saleh was also accused of “withholding funds meant for purchasing exotic vehicles usually assigned to newly sworn-in Justices of the Supreme Court.”
“The question is, is Mr Saleh the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court who is the accounting officer?
“The answer is an emphatic NO. 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 from Supreme Court account 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.
“Moreover, the said account was opened in 2009, five years before Mr Saleh became the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court. And so Mr Saleh could not have diverted the funds when he had not assumed office.
“Besides, the N2.2 billion was the total transaction in the account of the Supreme Court from 2009 to 2016.
“The petitioner only used the said account number which does not belong to Mr Saleh to deliberately and maliciously mislead members of the public.
“On the issue of the Attorney-General of the Federation’s withdrawal of the N2.2 billion fraud charges against Mr Saleh on a purported plea bargain, the truth is that when the office of the AGF discovered that the charges could not be substantiated, the charges were dropped without any plea bargaining.
“It is imperative for the members of the public to be aware that 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 is on record that these forces in a bid to stop his emergence as the NJC Secretary after the interview to consider his appointment came up with false allegations in the media alleging that he had diverted N2.2 billion from the Supreme Court from 2009 to 2016 on the day the Council meeting was to hold.
“It should be noted that there has never been a time when Mr Saleh admitted committing any crime before anybody or law court.
“The sponsors of these malicious allegations believe they own the Judiciary and nobody can become anything within the Judiciary without their approval.
“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.