Judicial Scandal: How Andy Uba Bought Anambra’s National Assembly Tribunal

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Andy Uba

Andy Uba

Saharareporters has ascertained that Andy Uba, a former domestic aide to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, was at the center of a bribery scandal that led to Saturday’s dissolution of an electoral tribunal in Anambra.

In what one lawyer described as a judicial bombshell, the President of the Court of Appeal on Saturday disbanded the panel of judges hearing petitions that arose from the National Assembly elections last April. Headed by Justice Usman Bwala, the tribunal was dismissed over allegations that its members were involved in extensive corruption.

Saharareporters investigations have revealed that three tribunal members were implicated in a bribe-taking scheme. The judges reportedly arranged to pick up bribes from Mr. Andy Uba at the Rockview Hotel in Abuja. “Chief Uba had bought three members of the tribunal and they were sworn to do his bidding,” said a judicial source familiar with the scandal.

Other sources knowledgeable about the tribunal’s activities said the tribunal had long been dubbed the “Andy Uba tribunal,” a reference to its members’ habit of dishing out decisions based on Mr. Uba’s whims and caprices.
 
A lawyer for one of the petitioners told Saharareporters that, since the tribunal’s inauguration, it was clear that only associates of the Andy Uba camp of the PDP were getting favorable judgments. The lawyer disclosed that his client as well as other petitioners, many of them PDP candidates, had cried out to the leadership of the Court of Appeal to protest the tribunal’s corrupt coziness with Mr. Andy Uba. “Our complaint and that of others played a major role in the dissolution of the tribunal,” the lawyer revealed.

A highly placed judicial source told SaharaReporters that Justice T.I Cocodia from Bayelsa was caught at the Rockview Hotel in Abuja picking up bribes for himself and other members of the tribunal.

Another lawyer involved in the electoral petitions told SaharaReporters that APGA as a political party had suffered most at the hands of the tribunal. He stated that APGA had so far brought over 30 motions asking tribunal members to recuse themselves, but each time members of the tribunal dismissed the motion.

Our sources said the allegations of exchange of money between Mr. Uba and tribunal members could no longer be ignored, leading to the dissolution of the tribunal. After the tribunal’s dissolution, its chair, Justice Bwala, was asked to proceed to Calabar, Cross Rivers State where there remain few election petitions.

Andy Uba and his brothers, Chris Uba and Ugochukwu Uba, have a notorious history of bribing members of the judiciary, especially over election matters. The Uba brothers came to national spotlight during the Obasanjo presidency from 1999 to 2007.

In 2003, a big fight ensued between a businessman cum politician called Nicholas Ukachukwu and the Ubas. Mr. Ukachukwu, who struck an alliance with Peter Obi, then a governorship candidate of APGA, enjoyed an upper hand in the fight, as Justice Garba Nabaruma gave decisions that were favorable to the Ukachukwu faction of the PDP. Even though APGA candidates lost all petitions against the PDP, the party eventually triumphed in Mr. Obi’s governorship case.

One fall-out of the 2003 tribunal cycle was the dismissal of Justice Okwuchukwu Opene and David Adedoyin Adeniji after the Nigerian Judicial Council found that they accepted bribes to uphold Ugochukwu Uba’s “election” as a senator after they picked up N12 million bribe.

The 2004/2005 political season was a turbulent one for the Uba family as justices of the Court of Appeal pulled back from the Ubas, afraid of possibly losing their seats if they were implicated in accepting bribes from the Uba brothers. The Ubas responded by writing petitions against some 10 justices. The NJC investigated the petitions but dismissed them all.

After the 2007 election cycle, the Anambra electoral tribunal led by Justice James Abariye commenced work in a commendable manner. However, lawyers involved in that cycle said the Abariye panel made a stunning somersault in style and substance after Mr. Andy Uba bribed them in hard currency. All the petitions against the PDP were subsequently struck out.

In June 2007, the Supreme Court removed Mr. Andy Uba from his 17-day old stint as Anambra governor. After that verdict, the Justice Abariye panel proceeded to strike out all petitions for and against Andy Uba. The panel curiously stated that everything done in the governorship contest was null and void.

Despite losing his governorship, Mr. Uba still bribed the tribunal to uphold the “election” of all the candidates he had installed in the Anambra legislature as well as the National Assembly. Mr. Uba recruited Justice Garba Ayuba Kwajafar currently in Kaduna, using him as the point man within the tribunal. When Mr. Uba faced resistance from Biobele Georgewill, then known to be an honest judge, he solved the problem by bribing the judge’s brother in Port Harcourt. Mr. Uba helped the judge’s brother to snatch the sole candidate of the Port Harcourt South LGA. Through that deal, Mr. Uba overcame Justice George-Well’s initial resistance – and got the tribunal to work full throttle for him. Of all the petitioners against Mr. Uba’s candidates, it was only Uba Egbeke who won his case and replaced Joy Emordi in the Senate.

When the electoral petitions went to the Court of Appeal in Enugu, Mr. Uba bribed Justice Muhammad Ladan Tsamiya, a retired police officer, to anchor his bidding. Mr. Uba’s associates won all the appeals – except for Mr. Uba’s bizarre appeal on the Anambra governorship case heard by a special panel headed by Justice Muntaka Coomasie. Even so, the Coomasie panel allowed part of Mr. Uba’s appeal, upholding the legitimacy of his swearing-in as well as actions taken as “governor-elect.” The appellate court ruled that the lower tribunal had overreached since the case was “otiose.”

The nebulous verdict created a fresh controversy as to whether Andy Uba could take over after Peter Obi’s tenure. Mr. Uba himself stoked the speculation when he sponsored reports in the local media that he was a “governor-in-waiting.” The fact that the appeal court justices did not make the judgment available for close to two months helped fuel reports that the Coomasie panel had written their verdict in a way that opened a backdoor for Mr. Uba to sneak back into Government House.

SaharaReporters wrote several exposes that sparked a public outcry and outrage in legal circles, forcing the appeal panel to clarify that they did not intend to declare Mr. Uba a “governor-in-waiting.” A source disclosed that Justice Muntaka Coomasie’s promotion to the Supreme Court led him to abandon the deal with Mr. Uba.

A stubborn Mr. Uba did not give up. He hired Wole Olanipekun, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, to formally ask the Court of Appeal to declare him governor-in-waiting.” Justice Nwali Ngwuta led the special panel that heard the case. Its members included Justices Kudirat Kekerekun and Jean Omokri.

SaharaReporters revealed then that Mr. Uba had been able to influence the panel with the help of then Attorney General of the Federation Michael Aondoakaa, Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu, and current AGF, Bello Adoke.

Justice Ngwuta, who was eyeing a seat on the Supreme Court, agreed to deliver a decision in favor of Uba, Mr. Justice Abdul Aboki and the late Judicial Scandal: How Andy Uba Bought Anambra’s National Assembly Tribunal

Saharareporters has ascertained that Andy Uba, a former domestic aide to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, was at the center of a bribery scandal that led to Saturday’s dissolution of an electoral tribunal in Anambra.

In what one lawyer described as a judicial bombshell, the President of the Court of Appeal on Saturday disbanded the panel of judges hearing petitions that arose from the National Assembly elections last April. Headed by Justice Usman Bwala, the tribunal was dismissed over allegations that its members were involved in extensive corruption.

Saharareporters investigations have revealed that three tribunal members were implicated in a bribe-taking scheme. The judges reportedly arranged to pick up bribes from Mr. Andy Uba at the Rockview Hotel in Abuja. “Chief Uba had bought three members of the tribunal and they were sworn to do his bidding,” said a judicial source familiar with the scandal.

Other sources knowledgeable about the tribunal’s activities said the tribunal had long been dubbed the “Andy Uba tribunal,” a reference to its members’ habit of dishing out decisions based on Mr. Uba’s whims and caprices.
 
A lawyer for one of the petitioners told Saharareporters that, since the tribunal’s inauguration, it was clear that only associates of the Andy Uba camp of the PDP were getting favorable judgments. The lawyer disclosed that his client as well as other petitioners, many of them PDP candidates, had cried out to the leadership of the Court of Appeal to protest the tribunal’s corrupt coziness with Mr. Andy Uba. “Our complaint and that of others played a major role in the dissolution of the tribunal,” the lawyer revealed.

A highly placed judicial source told SaharaReporters that Justice T.I Cocodia from Bayelsa was caught at the Rockview Hotel in Abuja picking up bribes for himself and other members of the tribunal.

Another lawyer involved in the electoral petitions told SaharaReporters that APGA as a political party had suffered most at the hands of the tribunal. He stated that APGA had so far brought over 30 motions asking tribunal members to recuse themselves, but each time members of the tribunal dismissed the motion.

Our sources said the allegations of exchange of money between Mr. Uba and tribunal members could no longer be ignored, leading to the dissolution of the tribunal. After the tribunal’s dissolution, its chair, Justice Bwala, was asked to proceed to Calabar, Cross Rivers State where there remain few election petitions.

Andy Uba and his brothers, Chris Uba and Ugochukwu Uba, have a notorious history of bribing members of the judiciary, especially over election matters. The Uba brothers came to national spotlight during the Obasanjo presidency from 1999 to 2007.

In 2003, a big fight ensued between a businessman cum politician called Nicholas Ukachukwu and the Ubas. Mr. Ukachukwu, who struck an alliance with Peter Obi, then a governorship candidate of APGA, enjoyed an upper hand in the fight, as Justice Garba Nabaruma gave decisions that were favorable to the Ukachukwu faction of the PDP. Even though APGA candidates lost all petitions against the PDP, the party eventually triumphed in Mr. Obi’s governorship case.

One fall-out of the 2003 tribunal cycle was the dismissal of Justice Okwuchukwu Opene and David Adedoyin Adeniji after the Nigerian Judicial Council found that they accepted bribes to uphold Ugochukwu Uba’s “election” as a senator after they picked up N12 million bribe.

The 2004/2005 political season was a turbulent one for the Uba family as justices of the Court of Appeal pulled back from the Ubas, afraid of possibly losing their seats if they were implicated in accepting bribes from the Uba brothers. The Ubas responded by writing petitions against some 10 justices. The NJC investigated the petitions but dismissed them all.

After the 2007 election cycle, the Anambra electoral tribunal led by Justice James Abariye commenced work in a commendable manner. However, lawyers involved in that cycle said the Abariye panel made a stunning somersault in style and substance after Mr. Andy Uba bribed them in hard currency. All the petitions against the PDP were subsequently struck out.

In June 2007, the Supreme Court removed Mr. Andy Uba from his 17-day old stint as Anambra governor. After that verdict, the Justice Abariye panel proceeded to strike out all petitions for and against Andy Uba. The panel curiously stated that everything done in the governorship contest was null and void.

Despite losing his governorship, Mr. Uba still bribed the tribunal to uphold the “election” of all the candidates he had installed in the Anambra legislature as well as the National Assembly. Mr. Uba recruited Justice Garba Ayuba Kwajafar currently in Kaduna, using him as the point man within the tribunal. When Mr. Uba faced resistance from Biobele Georgewill, then known to be an honest judge, he solved the problem by bribing the judge’s brother in Port Harcourt. Mr. Uba helped the judge’s brother to snatch the sole candidate of the Port Harcourt South LGA. Through that deal, Mr. Uba overcame Justice George-Well’s initial resistance – and got the tribunal to work full throttle for him. Of all the petitioners against Mr. Uba’s candidates, it was only Uba Egbeke who won his case and replaced Joy Emordi in the Senate.

When the electoral petitions went to the Court of Appeal in Enugu, Mr. Uba bribed Justice Muhammad Ladan Tsamiya, a retired police officer, to anchor his bidding. Mr. Uba’s associates won all the appeals – except for Mr. Uba’s bizarre appeal on the Anambra governorship case heard by a special panel headed by Justice Muntaka Coomasie. Even so, the Coomasie panel allowed part of Mr. Uba’s appeal, upholding the legitimacy of his swearing-in as well as actions taken as “governor-elect.” The appellate court ruled that the lower tribunal had overreached since the case was “otiose.”

The nebulous verdict created a fresh controversy as to whether Andy Uba could take over after Peter Obi’s tenure. Mr. Uba himself stoked the speculation when he sponsored reports in the local media that he was a “governor-in-waiting.” The fact that the appeal court justices did not make the judgment available for close to two months helped fuel reports that the Coomasie panel had written their verdict in a way that opened a backdoor for Mr. Uba to sneak back into Government House.

SaharaReporters wrote several exposes that sparked a public outcry and outrage in legal circles, forcing the appeal panel to clarify that they did not intend to declare Mr. Uba a “governor-in-waiting.” A source disclosed that Justice Muntaka Coomasie’s promotion to the Supreme Court led him to abandon the deal with Mr. Uba.

A stubborn Mr. Uba did not give up. He hired Wole Olanipekun, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, to formally ask the Court of Appeal to declare him governor-in-waiting.” Justice Nwali Ngwuta led the special panel that heard the case. Its members included Justices Kudirat Kekerekun and Jean Omokri.

SaharaReporters revealed then that Mr. Uba had been able to influence the panel with the help of then Attorney General of the Federation Michael Aondoakaa, Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu, and current AGF, Bello Adoke.

Justice Ngwuta, who was eyeing a seat on the Supreme Court, agreed to deliver a decision in favor of Uba, Mr. Justice Abdul Aboki and the late Justice Omokri also agreed, but Justices Kekerekun and Paul Galinje reportedly refused to play along.

A series of investigative reports by SaharaReporters again ignited a public outcry including an outburst by the Ikemba of Nnewi, Odumegwu Ojukwu that he will lead a “civil uprising” again if the justices awarded Andy Uba Anambra’s governorship through the backdoor. Jittery, the panel of judges was again compelled to abandon the deal.

In 2010, Mr. Uba contested the Anambra governorship election as a candidate of the Labor Party, but lost to Mr. Peter Obi. In April 2011, officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission declared Mr. Uba winner of a senatorial seat in Anambra. That victory generated several petitions against Mr. Uba, questioning whether he was the rightful candidate of the PDP as well as discrepancies in his academic record.

Mr. Uba, who failed his high school leaving certificate exams, has falsely claimed that he earned a first degree in Canada and a Masters as well as PhD in the US and the UK respectively. Several years ago, our investigations revealed that Mr. Uba abandoned his studies in Canada and the US without receiving any degrees, and bought a “doctorate” from “Buxton University,” an unaccredited body that sells degrees online.

Mr. Uba amassed stupendous wealth during the eight years he functioned as Mr. Obasanjo’s senior special assistant on domestic matters. President Obasanjo entrusted him with the virtual control of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), enabling Mr. Uba to make huge sums. He owns at least two private jets and some of the most expensive real estates in various parts of Nigeria, including Abuja and Enugu.

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