Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa Sues Joe Igbokwe,Seeks to compel AG to Prosecute him
Legal luminary and human rights activist, , has filed an action before the Federal High Court, Lagos, seeking to sanction All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain, Mr Joe Igbokwe, for what he considered to be his reckless utterances against the judiciary. Adegboruwa’s is in reaction to Igbokwe’s Facebook posts accusing the Supreme Court of selling justice to the governor of Rivers State, Mr NyesomWike.
Named as defendants in the suit are the Attorney-General of the Federation and Mr Joe Igbokwe. In the suit, Mr Adegboruwa is asking the court to direct Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, to invite Mr Joe Igbokwe 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 Mr. Igbokwe to step down and vacate his office as General Manager of Lagos State Wharf Land Fee Collecting Authority and Public Relations Officer of the All Progressives Congress, and also a declaration that Mr 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 15:20 pm, Mr Joe 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.”
Upon reading it, Mr. Adegboruwa immediately took up Mr. Igbokwe, to substantiate the allegation. Similarly, the Rivers State Government also demanded explanations from Mr. Igbokwe and threatened court action. Subsequently, the Chief Justice of Nigeria invited security agencies to probe Mr. Igbokwe’s allegations and deal with the judges found culpable and if the allegations are false, to take appropriate steps to prosecute Mr. Igbokwe.
Rather than withdraw the offending post, Mr. 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 Mr. Nyesom Wike.
In a 32-paragraph affidavit deposed to in support of the new suit, Mr. Adegboruwa is claiming that Mr. Igbokwe’s post is capable of generating loss of confidence in the judicial system, which will discourage people from seeking redress from the law courts and which will, in turn, lead to lawlessness and resort to self-help and rule of the might. He also said that it will lead to a 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. Mr. Adegboruwa is contending that as a public officer, Mr. Igbokwe should be involved in disparaging other public institutions and that his offending post is a clear case of abuse of public trust for which he should be sanctioned appropriately. He contends further that the Attorney-General of the Federation, 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 Mr. Igbokwe, on behalf of the judiciary, lawyers and indeed the general public.
Other reliefs being sought in the case are as follows:
“1. 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.
2. 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.
3. A DECLARATION that the 1st defendant, being the leader of the official Bar in Nigeria and the chief law officer of the Federation, is under a statutory duty to interview, engage and demand from the 2nd defendant, proof of his statement that the judgment of the Supreme Court of Nigeria was bought and paid for, failing which the said 1st defendant should proceed to prosecute the said 2nd defendant.
4. A DECLARATION that the 2nd defendant is not a fit and proper person to be elected or appointed into or to hold any public office in any part of the Federation of Nigeria.
5. 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.
6. PERPETUAL INJUNCTION, restraining the 2nd defendant, his servants, officers and agents, or otherwise howsoever, from further issuing, uttering, publishing or making any statement, of and concerning the judiciary and the legal profession in Nigeria, capable of undermining the credibility, authority, integrity and sanctity of judgments of the Supreme Court of Nigeria and of all other courts in in Nigeria, generally.
7. AN ORDER directing the 2nd defendant to forthwith vacate, relinquish and surrender any and all public positions that he presently occupies.”