President Muhammadu Buhari and his lawyer, Kola Awodein (SAN), on Wednesday denied giving a N500,000 bribe to Justice Adeniyi Ademola to influence the president’s certificate case.
A statement by Buhari’s spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, debunked news reports that quoted a witness in Justice Ademola’s ongoing corruption trial, Mr. Babatunde Adepoju, as having said so in court on Tuesday.
Adepoju, a Department of State Service’s investigator, made the shocking declaration while testifying before a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Maitama, Abuja, as the 16th prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of Justice Ademola, his wife, Olabowale and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, JoeAgi.
Adepoju spoke while being cross-examined by defence lawyers. He confirmed that Agi had disclosed the information to him in the course of investigation of the case against the defendants.
Justice Ademola, his wife, Olabowale; and Agi, are being jointly prosecuted by the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation on charges, including receiving and giving gratification to influence the course of justice.
However, the president’s spokesman said in a statement that “Nigerians know that President Buhari challenged the elections of 2003, 2007, and 2011, up to the Supreme Court, and not once was he named as trying to compromise any judge, though some of them were his schoolmates, or contemporaries, at one time or the other.
“It is in keeping with the President’s time-tested reputation as a man of truth and integrity. Any attempt to sully that reputation is bound to fail, inexorably,” he said.
In a separate statement, Awodein said, “I am constrained to make in absolute good faith, in good conscience and in the interest of justice and fair play the following very short statement on account of the distorted news story currently being peddled as affecting the person of Mr President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and my good and very noble self.”
Awodein explained that he gave Ademola the gift as a personal donation towards the wedding of the daughter of the Supreme Court Justice.
He said the gift had nothing to do with Buhari or his certificate saga.
“It is a fact that the sum of money mentioned was personally paid by me as a friend to Mr. Justice Ademola as a personal gift, as our custom well recognizes and demands, on the occasion of his daughter’s High Society wedding solemnized at the Cathedral Church of Christ, Marina, Lagos, on the 9th of May 2015, which I attended in person.
“I was fully convinced then, as I remain today, that I could do no less as a friend of longstanding to fairly reasonably support him on that memorable occasion of his daughter’s wedding.
“Anyone and everyone who knows me would readily and unquestionably testify that I am and have always been a man of impeccable integrity on and off the Courts and that such a record speaks always loudly for itself.
“I would conclude by stating categorically and without any equivocation that ANY link whatsoever with Mr. President, or any court case or cases, of my personal gift from my personal resources delivered to Justice Niyi Ademola by myself on that occasion or any suggestion whatsoever that it was anything but such a gift or that it ever came from Mr. President or at his instance or that I was acting, under any circumstances, on his behalf is most malicious, utterly ridiculous and in very very poor and revolting taste anand most undeserving of any further comments,” he declared.