Former General Manager of Bayelsa State Broadcasting Corporation, Mr. John Idumange, has petitioned the State’s Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General, Biriyai Dambo (SAN) before the Disciplinary Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) over his allege role in perversion of justice and influencing the outcome of his case with the state government over alleged misappropriation of a N3bn Agricultural loan.
According to Idumange, the State Commissioner of Justice and Attorney-General, Biriyai Dambo is alleged to sent a letter to the Chief Judge, Justice Kate Abiri, instructing her to move the case out of a court presided over by Justice E.J Omukoro and send it a court presided over by his friend, Justice E. Uzakah.
The embattled former Bayelsa Radion General Manager, Dr. John Idumange ,in the petition submitted before the Nigerian Bar Asociation, claimed that the aim of moving the case is ensure that the investigation into the controversial N3bn agric loan, knowing fully well that Justice Uzakah will do the bidding of his friend to illegally rule an unlawful remand order to ensure he remains in prison.
Parts of the petition read “the Bayelsa State Government received an Agricultural loan of Three Billion Naira (N3 billion) from the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN. The first tranche of the loan was received at about March-April 2020. Government never made a statement on it because the tranche of N1.5 billion was supposedly misappropriated.
“The second tranche of N1.5billion was paid in February-March 2021. Realizing the body language of government in concealing and misappropriating the loan for farmers, I blew the whistle that the loan should be given to Bayelsa Farmers. The loan was specifically meant for farmers.
“In our Facebook discussion, I mentioned two government officials who are beneficiaries of the loan because I am privy to how the loan was shared among the political elites instead of allocating the loan to Bayelsa farmers. I had approached the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC on the 8th of March 2021, EFCC to intervene to ensure the loan got to the farmers.
“To forestall and scuttle investigations, I was promptly arrested on March 10th, 2021 at the gate of a broadcasting station where I was supposed to feature on a programme on accessing loans by farmers. I was detained for three day before I was arraigned in court on charges of sedition. At the law court, the Chief Magistrate refused to record my Counsels and said and I quote “ I am here to rule on whether to remand somebody or not; I don’t know why up to nine lawyers are attending court for one man”.
“I was thus denied legal representation and the court refused to grant me bail. I was detained again for two days. The lead Counsel, – who was the immediate Attorney-General of Bayelsa State A.S. Arthur esq. approached the High Court in Sagbama, which granted me bail, knowing that I had already lodged a petition of financial misappropriation and economic crimes against some highly placed government officials on March 8th, 2021. As we speak, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has frozen the bank accounts of recipients of the fraudulent monies laundered into their accounts. They have identified those who misappropriated the farmers’ loans”.
“In the midst of these Sundry breaches of the rule is the Attorney-General of the State Mr. Biriyai Dambo SAN, whose sworn affidavit appears to be a hireling doing some MAN FRIDAY’S JOB to demean the integrity of the judiciary is spearheading the pernicious act of pushing for my detention. Upon hearing that I had been granted bail, the Attorney-General Biriyai Dambo SAN wrote to the Chief Judge of Bayelsa State, Hon. Justice Kate Abiri in a compelling tone, accusing Justice E. J Omukoro of bias and partiality, and strayed further to instruct the Chief Judge to transfer the said suit to another High Court where his bosom friend presides”.
‘This is because Hon. Justice J.E Omukoro recognized my fundamental rights to freedom of expression as stipulated in Section 39 of the constitution. On a cursory investigation, it was revealed that the court where the suit was assigned is presided by Hon. Justice E. Uzakah – a bosom friend to the Attorney-General Mr. Biriyai Dambo SAN, who will do the bidding of his friend to illegally rule that the unlawful remand order be executed in blatant violation of my fundamental human rights.This has already played out when I was on my way to Yenagoa on the 19th of July, 2021 and had a car accident. My counsel told the court what happened to me on my way, yet Justice E.Uzakah issued a bench warrant on the first day I was to be arraigned to answers to the charge of sedition”.
“I did not jump bail. I am a University lecturer who is known to so many people. I served in five capacities in Government from 2012 to 2020, the last position being the General Manager of the Bayelsa State Broadcast Corporation. As a highly esteemed professional body, I am aware that one of the institutional core objectives of the NBA is the maintenance of the integrity and independence of the Bar and the Judiciary. As a senior lawyer, the Attorney-General is aware that the NBA holds tenaciously to this bastion of the rule of law. Sadly, he is carried away by his exalted office and could flagrantly violate the rule of law with impunity. After all, he said the NBA Chairman is not a Senior Advocate. In all modesty, the unprofessional manner he has been going about this matter smacks of a compromised judiciary, which negates the fundamental values of sane jurisprudence”.
“In my candid opinion, the Attorney-General interfered unnecessarily with the independence of the judiciary. (Vide: Read the letter written by Biriyai Dambo SAN on March 22, 2021.) Even the action of the Chief Judge of the State Kate Abiri is questionable. I know that in enforcing my fundamental human rights, sedition as a charge is bailable. Therefore Mr. Biriyai Dambo’s emphasis on remanding an accused person in a matter where the evidence is only a facebook post is a misdemeanour and a violation of the rule of law. There is sufficient reason to submit here that the Magistrate Court presided over by Mirin-Johnson might have been compromised as the court is has an unenviable record of playing that ignoble role for the executive organ of government”.
“Thus, the Attorney-General who took the oath of office to uphold the rule of law as a cardinal pillar of the Bar has weapon zed the law into an instrument of witch hunt but we are not in the Middle Ages. This is the flipside of the rule of law and a rugged path which learned Lawyers are forbidden to thread. Chief. Benson S. Agadaga and Mr. Peter Peretoubo Akpe petitioned me through a Chambers individually and It is absurd as to when Mr. Biriyai Dambo SAN who is the Commissioner for Justice took over as the petitioners’ Attorney. Not only did Mr. Biriyai Dambo acted as their attorney; he also played the role of Chief Judge of the State by directing the assignment of the case”.