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15th August 2018

Controversial Nigerian Judge Heads Scary Commission of Inquiry in Sierra Leone!

By a press release (06/08/18)

Sierra Leone's dreaded Commission of Inquiry set up by President Bio to probe corruption in the country is presided over by a Nigerian Judge.

 

The Awareness Times newspaper in Sierra Leone reported that it has discovered an eerie parallel between a saga in Nigeria five years ago and the ongoing saga unfolding in Sierra Leone viz-a-viz a proposed Commission of Inquiry to be headed by a controversial Nigerian judge named Justice Biobele Georgewill (photo).

Many Sierra Leoneans have been wondering about who is this judge from Nigeria who is set to sit on a controversially drafted Commission of Inquiry in Sierra Leone to look into the activities of the former president, the two former vice-presidents, former ministers and former government functionaries who belong to the opposition All Peoples Congress (APC) that led Sierra Leone between November 2007 to April 2018. His name has been given yesterday August 2nd 2018 as Justice Biobele Georgewill and he is to be a Sole Commissioner in one of so-far, two Commissions of Inquiry that have been widely described as nothing but selective witch-hunts of members of the former ruling APC party.

The Awareness Times has found an eerie parallel with Justice Biobele Georgewill being accused of similarly allowing himself to be used cheaply as a common tool for unscrupulous politicians by presiding over a witch-hunt Commission of Inquiry five years ago in Nigeria. At that time, Justice Biobele was embarrassingly dragged to the Law Courts and the Nigerian Courts ordered him to immediately end that his Commission of Inquiry which was adjudged to not only be illegal but also got widely cited as a tool to suppress democratic opposition. (Photo below: President Bio and the Anti-Corruption Commission chairman Ben Kaifala, left, in Freetown).

 

Therefore, the proposed Nigerian to head Sierra Leone Commission of Inquiry, Justice Biobele Georgewill had served on a Nigerian Commission of Inquiry whose credibility, most interestingly got successfully challenged at Nigerian Law Courts. Of note is that the basis of the challenge of Justice Biobele in Nigeria is that those he wanted to investigate asserted Biobele Georgewill was being used as a "tool to persecute political opposition in a democratic State."

Justice Biobele Georgewill even though held in high esteem, sadly got his character make-up to be publicly questioned by the politicians who had said whilst they held him in very high esteem, they regretted that he allowed himself to be used as tool to suppress political opponents. In an eerie parallel, it is this exact same accusation that has already been levied at the Commission which Justice Biobele Georgewill is to head in Sierra Leone. It is widely perceived as nothing but a selective witch-hunt.

Many citizens do not understand how President Bio can say he is fighting corruption and be so selective in terms of the span of years he is investigating and worse of all, in terms of the specificity of going after only his APC political opponents whilst leaving out the Permanent Secretaries who were the actual Vote Controllers in the Ministries the President wants to investigate. (Photo below: Former President Ernest Koroma is expected to face the Nigerian Judge Biobele on corruption allegations).

The embarrassment faced in Nigeria by Justice Biobele Georgewill happened exactly five years ago in August 2013 when the Courts in Nigeria ordered Justice Biobele Georgewill from continuing to hold himself out as a purported head of a purported Commission of Inquiry. According to documents seen by this newspaper, Justice Lamenkara Iyaye of Port Harcourt, Nigeria, declared as illegal and unconstitutional, the Justice Biobele Georgewill Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up by the then Governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi to investigate his political rivals in a fracas which happened in their legislature.

One of Amaechi’s political opponents Victor Ihunwo, had filed a suit in which he sought to prevent the Judicial Commission from investigating him or any of the other political opponents of Amaechi. The suit had Justice Biobele A. Georgewill as First Defendant and also included Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and his Attorney General as defendants.

The courts listened to both sides and judged against Justice Biobele Georgewill whom was found to be engaging in what the applicant had described as not a Commission but a witch-hunt by Governor Amaechi against his political opponents.

The Judge ordered Amaechi from receiving any report from the Judicial Commission, or in any manner whatsoever implement or put into use any report, findings or opinion tendered by or submitted by the Commission in its capacity as a judicial Commission of Inquiry.

In his ruling, Justice Iyaye stopped the Commission headed by Justice Biobele A. Georgewill, from any further sittings. According to him, the principle of natural justice forbids Amaechi from constituting a panel to investigate a crisis in which he is an interested party.

The court restrained Amaechi from receiving or acting on any recommendations submitted to it by the Biobele Georgewill Commission, which had already started sitting and had even ordered the State Police Chief to submit to it the week pending. (Photo below: Chief Minister Dr. David Francis who chaired the Transition Team on Corruption).

The judgment also said Commissions of Inquiry were not to be abused by politicians under the guise of looking into matters of a criminal nature as such matters were only fit to be decided by a constituted Court of Law and not by Commissions of Inquiry. Iyaye clarified that only a regular court was competent to inquire or try anyone on the allegations bordering on criminal activities.

The political opponents of Amaechi whom had been targeted to be investigated, reacted by describing the judgment as a victory for democracy.

A Joint Statement from the politicians who had been targeted in the witch-hunt, said the nullification of the Justice Biobele Georgewill Commission and the consignment of any report and, or document from such enquiry to the waste basket of history, has vindicated the position of the party that the setting up of the commission ab initio was ill-intended and had no other motive than to witch-hunt perceived opponents of the Governor Chibuike Rotimi.

A senior politician in Nigeria Felix Obuah also said: "We are happy and wish to express our renewed confidence in the Nigerian judiciary to uphold justice in the face of intimidation and wanton display of power."

Obuah said it was regretful that Justice Biobele Georgewill accepted to serve in such an illegal Commission which was widely labelled by many in Nigeria as a tool for indictment of opponents by common cowards who could not exist within a level political playing field but tried to cheaply use a Commission of Inquiry to hound their opponents in a democratic State.

The similarities of the above five years old Nigeria saga with Sierra Leone’s unfolding saga are eerie. The parallels are stunning!

Nigeria News References:

1). http://dailypost.ng/2013/08/17/court-stops-judicial-commission-from-further-hearing/
by Awareness Times)

2.) http://dailypost.ng/2013/08/17/court-stops-judicial-commission-from-further-hearing/

3.) https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/142892-rivers-assembly-crisis-court-declares-amaechis-commission-of-inquiry-unconstitutional.html

4.) https://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2013/08/16/court-stops-rivers-assembly-fracas-probe-panel/

5.) https://www.naija.ng/43991.html

Courtesy: Awareness Times Newspaper, Friday 3rd August 2018

TRIBUTE: ALPHA SHAW


1958 -1980

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