Former Governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has written a letter to the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, appealing to him to discard the White Paper issued on his indictment by Rivers State Government.
In the letter, a copy of which was obtained by THISDAY on Friday, Amaechi claimed that he was innocent of the allegations of corruption for which he had been indicted by the Judicial Commission of Inquiry chaired by Justice G.O. Omereji.
The letter, signed by his counsel, Edward Pepple and dated October 12, 2015 further stated that the Supreme Court had emphasised in a case involving former Vice President Atiku Abubakar “that an indictment by judicial commission of inquiry or administrative panel is not an ‘indictment’ or sufficient for the purpose of preventing a person from holding a public office.”
The letter added: “Section 182(1)(i) only enables a judicial commission of inquiry or administrative tribunal to determine the culpability of a citizen where it is alleged that such citizen has been in breach of standards of behaviour expecting in public life.
“Where such inquiry finds a citizen liable or culpable of a conduct bordering on criminality and the federal or state government accepts such a report through a published white paper, it is still not enough to deny a citizen eligibility to the office of governor unless and until he is afterwards prosecuted in a court of law and found guilty.
“Mr. President, we have no doubt that the Senate being an arm of government established under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria verily appreciates the general principle of the rule of law, hence the invitation extended to our client to respond to the petition.
“Whereas we appreciate the commitment of the Senate to be fair and just, especially in offering our client an opportunity to state his side of the matter, however, we need to state, and most regrettably too, that our client is unable to comment or respond in specific terms to the allegations contained in the said petition as that would amount to commenting on the subject matter before the court of law.”
While urging the Senate president to ignore his indictment, Amaechi said one of the cardinal principles of fair hearing is that an accused person is presumed innocent he is proved guilty.
He also claimed that his position is strengthened by Section 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) adding that the allegations are not only false but “also made mala fide with the intent to solely irritate, embarrass and tarnish the hard earned reputation of our client and maliciously represent him as a person not fit and proper to occupy public office.”
Amaechi also claimed that if the intention of the petitioners was genuine there would not have been any need to petition the Senate having earlier petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related offence Commission (ICPC) over the same matter.
The letter added: “We wish to re-emphasis that our client is always ready, usually enthusiastic and desirous of defending himself at all times, however we have implored and advised him that he is restrained at this time, most regrettably, from commenting on the content of that petition, which is the subject matter before the courts of law. He is therefore not in a position to respond to the petition, issue by issue before the distinguished Senate.
“In the circumstance therefore, we urge you with utmost respect to discard the malicious petition intended to disparage and malign our client’s reputation and misrepresent him before the distinguished senators and the nation and create the wrong impression that our client is not a fit and proper person to occupy public office. He is a fit a proper person to occupy any position in this country. He is capable mentally and physically.”
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