Senator Dino Melaye has been accused of bribing a Judge. He needs to put up a spirited defense.
According to Sahara Reporters, Melaye who represents Kogi West in the Senate, did bribe the judge who ruled an election case before her, in his favour.
Sahara Reporters gave the name of the judge as Justice Akon Ikpeme.
In 2015, Ikpeme was the tribunal judge who handled the election case between Melaye and his challenger Smart Adeyemi.
Ikpeme ruled in Melaye’s favour in 2016.
To back up its story, the news site put up a purported phone conversation between Melaye and Ikpeme.
Here’s a paragraph from that Sahara Reporters story: “In the tape, which captures a telephone conversation between Justice (Mrs) Akon and Mr. Melaye, the judge is overheard asking Mr. Melaye to give her a bribe in US dollars. She also asks Mr. Melaye to assist a person Dino repeatedly referred to as her "daughter" secure a job at the Cross River State Ministry of Health”.
There was some name dropping as well from Dino, according to the story: “In a second call between Ikpeme and Mr. Melaye, the Senator bragged that he had already spoken to the State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade”.
Melaye has reacted to the story through his twitter account.
“Sahara Reporters and awada kerikeri (comedy). Using voice over to malign me because my case with them comes up in few days’ time. (5th June 2017)”, the senator wrote.
It’s as weak a defense as they come. A straw man’s argument if ever there was one.
Melaye can certainly do better.
You don’t refute an allegation by trying to blackmail the accuser. That’s so two thousand and late.
The allegation by Sahara Reporters is grave because it borders on obstruction of justice; or if you would, perverting the course of justice.
The bigger implication is that Melaye could lose his seat in the Senate if found guilty.
If proven to be true, Justice Ikpeme will be standing trial alongside Melaye as well for the same offence and stripped of her position on the bench.
Alternatively, she could be asked to recuse herself from further sitting over cases until this one is determined in a court of competent jurisdiction.
Which is why Melaye's defense through twitter doesn't cut it.
The senator should sue Sahara Reporters for all it’s worth if he’s got a cast-iron conviction that he’s innocent of the allegation.
Sahara Reporters and Melaye have a storied past littered with duels and punch swinging.
But this is a fresh allegation which should be viewed and treated on its merit.
To say the voice in that audio was doctored is a stretch and an attempt by the senator to pull a wool over the eyes of the Nigerian people.
May this case not die a natural death like many before it.
No 'Ajekun Iya' performances should make us take our eyes off the ball this time.