By Ushang Ewa
Akon Ikpeme, the Cross River State High Court Judge allegedly involved in scandalous money for judgment saga with Senator Daniel ‘Dino’ Melaye is seeking soft landing after she authenticated the audiotape of her conversation with the legislator which was published last week.
The audiotape contains the voices of Justice Ikpeme and Senator Dino with the former asking the latter for a bribe in United States Dollars and SaharaReporters on Monday reported that she told an aide to Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari about her encounters with the legislator who tried reaching out to her to deny the allegations as he will make use of his connections to erase the conversation and call logs from MTN ad security agencies archives.
But, the judge did not disclose to the presidential aide how much she received from Mr. Melaye but admitted that the transactions happened more than twice.
Also, several lawyers involved in the case told SaharaReporters that the female voice on the recording was that of Justice Ikpeme who, they say, speaks exactly as captured on the tape.
Dino Melaye’s legal representatives also said he stopped paying their fees after a while and began to sound over-confident about the case which they suspected was because he had bribed Justice Ikpeme and other judges involved in his case.
One of the lawyers, who preferred anonymity, said the legislator panicked when his opponent, Mr. Smart Adeyemi, suddenly procured the services of Barrister Wole Olanipekun, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria to defend the case against him (Melaye) who allegedly did not win the All Progressives Congress primaries to secure his party nomination as required by law.
During that period, Mr. Melaye issued a statement denouncing the All Progressives Congress National Leader Bola Tinubu as plotting to oust him because of his support for Senate President Bukola Saraki.
After Justice Ikpeme first dismissed the case of Mr. Adeyemi for filing outside the prescribed timeframe, the Court of Appeal returned the case to the lower tribunal, curiously insisting that the case be heard by Justice Ikpeme’s panel. Justice Ikpeme is said to have subtly suggested that the Court of Appeal President, Justice Bulkachuwa, was in on the deal as well.
Mr. Adeyemi’s legal team wrote petitions to Justice Bulkachuwa to disqualify the Justice Ikpeme panel, but she didn’t budge, and Mr. Adeyemi lost for the second time on technicalities, apparently, Mr. Melaye had bribed Justice Ikpeme for the second time.
Mr. Adeyemi’s appeal at the National Assembly Election Petition Appeals Tribunal suffered a similar fate. It is interesting to note that of the three Senators from Kogi State, only Mr. Melaye’s election was not nullified at the tribunal on account of irregularities.
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