Integrity Friends for Truth and Peace Initiative, also known as The Integrity Group, an anti-corruption watchdog with strong network with various civil rights organizations based in Rivers state has protested to the Chairman of the National Judicial Council, NJC and Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed calling for the sack of the President of the Appeal Court, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa for her alleged bias in the handling of the murder trial of one Ojukaye Flag Amachree in Port Harcourt.
Last March, in Abalama, Asari-Toru LGA of Rivers state, Amachree allegedly , shot and killed a member of the Peace Corps during the #RiversReRunElections. In an attempt to escape the scene, he was said to have run over the already dead Peace Corps member with his red Toyota Tacoma truck. Irate voters chased after him with stones and sticks and he abandoned his truck and escaped firing shots into the air to scare the people away.
In an open letter to the NJC, Integrity Group informed the NJC as follows: “The Integrity Group in keeping with its Justice and Citizens Watch Project seeks an urgent intervention by the National Judicial Council and the Chief Justice of Nigeria over an obvious act of mindless abuse of judicial powers, judicial corruption, shameless demonstration of repetitive political interest in a murder trial in Rivers state by the President of the Court of Appeal, Hon. Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa in concert with a select 3 man panel of the Appellate Court headed by Hon. Justice Sidi Bage,(Lagos Division), Hon Justice A. O Lokulo Sodipe (Ekiti Division) and Hon. Justice Adamu Jauro (Jos Division) to hear an Appeal by a certain styled APC Chieftain in Rivers State and former Council Chairman of Asari-Toru local government area of Rivers state, Ojukaye Flag-Amachree.
“The said APC scribe, Ojukaye Flag-Amachree who is currently awaiting trial and remanded in the Port Harcourt prisons on a three count charge of conspiracy and murder having been accused of shooting one Smart Soberekon to death in Buguma the headquarters of Asari-Toru local government area of Rivers State during the April 11th 2015 General Election.
“His lawyers led by one Sebastian Hon SAN, filed an Appeal before the Court of Appeal in Port-Harcourt to challenge the decision of Justice Margaret Opara of the Rivers State High Court for not granting his client bail.
“Your Lordship, it will interest you to know that the sole reason for which the President of the Court of Appeal with impunity and without cause generated the said three man Hatchet Appeal Court Panel is to preferentially entertain an appeal by the accused person, a certain Ojukaye Amachree, challenging the ruling of the Rivers state High Court which denied him bail.
“Your Lordship, for the records, may we state that there are substantive and competent Judges of the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt whose qualifications and capacity is not yet in question. Hence there is no known petition or an issue of bias against them by any of the parties as to occasion this mindless show of interest by the Court of Appeal President.
“It is also important to take notice that the three Judges Hon. Justice Sidi Bage, (Lagos Division), Hon Justice A. O Lokulo Sodipe (Ekiti Division) and Hon. Justice Adamu Jauro (Jos Division) have obviously come for a political hatchet job aimed at nothing but to extraordinarily grant bail to the said Ojukkaye Flag-Amachree.”
Recalling that the three judges were also part of the panel of appeal court judges that allegedly conspired and mischievously nullified the various rivers state legislative seats at the election petition appeal tribunal wherein they birthed the popular “conflicting judgments which almost destroyed our judiciary in Nigeria; as such, it is clear that they are not only bias but fully interested in this matter based on their obvious understanding reached upon whatever compromise along with their leader, the President of the Court of Appeal, Hon. Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa.”
Integrity Group then alerted the NJC that “this most curious mission of the President of the Court of Appeal planned to be executed in Port Harcourt betrays the holy principle of judicious and judicial exercise of powers and raises questions of both the gross abuse of judicial exercise of powers by judges as well as the issue of material corruption amongst them with their open political cleavages and interest…”
Adding that since the next date for the matter at the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt is July 4, 2016 “wherein the three judges are desperately bent on granting bail to the accused person standing trial for murder, it will be as important as a rescue mission by the NJC and the Chief Justice of Nigeria to save the situation as in the case of matters of national importance to avert the full manifestation of the doomsday for the only hope of the common man.”
Among its prayers are that the Appeal Court 3 man Panel as procured here by Justice Bulkachuwa be dissolved; and “that Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa be immediately sacked or suspended from office and be probed for this unrighteous show of partisan interest in a murder trial, gross abuse of judicial powers and judicial corruption/ moral breach of trust etc.”
It also prays that the Appeal Court Judges originally assigned to preside over the Appeal Court in the Port Harcourt Division should be allowed freely to seat and entertain this matter including several others before it.
South-South Zonal Chair, CLO, Chinedu Karl Uchegbu in a statement shared the same view of the Integrity Group on the development and announced a vote of no confidence on the Appeal Court President while also urging the NJC to act fast to save the derailment of justice in the matter.

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