Fighting back to redeem his reputation, Dr Gabriel Suswam, former governor of Benue State, on Wednesday, refuted an online publication linking him with attempt to bribe a judge, who is currently presiding over the corruption case brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), saying that the publication was a deliberate strategy to pitch him against the judiciary and the law enforcement agency.
In a statement made available to newsmen, in Makurdi, Suswam regretted that “the report on its website which was widely shared to other online websites, blogs and List Serves, Sahara Reporters wrote of a phantom attempt by me to bribe the presiding Judge of the Federal High Court before whom I have been standing trial in order to get a “a soft landing”.
“The online medium even alleged that I had not only met with the trial Judge, but had indirectly bribed him by “picking the medical bills of a relative” last year to secure “lenient bail conditions”.
“According to the report, I further promised to bribe the Judge with various sums in local and foreign currencies to get “soft landing”.
“The report also alleged that a certain staff of the Federal High Court was the link between me and the Honourable Justice.
” Sahara Reporters claimed to be in possession of text messages exchanged between me and the Judge in which there were discussions about how the Judge would be bribed to give me “soft landing” in the trial and that the judge gave out what the defense counsel should tell the Prosecution lawyers to enable him deliver a ‘favorable ruling’ to me”.
Suswam, who described the publication as being completely false, highly malicious, wicked and lacking in the least measure of facts and truth added that it was a fabrication from the professional indiscretion and warped imagination of the Sahara Reporters’ writers.
“Typical of the historically reckless tradition of Sahara Reporters, this report is not only highly mischievous but further re-confirms the long-held opinion that Sahara Reporters is a willing tool in the hands of desperate politicians with intent to ridicule their real or perceived foes” the statement quoted Suswam.
According to Suswam, he had never met the Judge in question outside the court room saying that he did not have his telephone contact, still less exchanging text messages with him.
“So for anybody to insinuate or directly allege that I am engaged in any form of negotiation with the judge to secure the so called ” soft landing” is grossly untrue as such a situation does not exist and will never exist,” he stressed.
He further stressed that he had never tried in any way to bribe the said Honourable Judge or any other judicial officer in all his life in public service to secure a favourable decision, noting that he also had no intention to do so.
“As a lawyer, I am aware of the consequences of such an action and will never venture into such an indecent, criminal and immoral act. Perhaps, it is important to state here that since my trial commenced at the Federal High Court last year, I have co-operated in all circumstances with the prosecution to ensure the trial proceeded speedily with the firm belief in the judicial system that justice will be done at the end of the day.
“It’s clear to me that Sahara Reporters is doing the wishes of my political foes who would stop at nothing to find me guilty even if the evidence at their disposal does not warrant my conviction.
“The resort to sponsorship of mischievous reports against me in the media will not and cannot bury the truth that I am being vilified for political reasons by the forces who wish to render me irrelevant in the politics of Benue State”, he said.
Suswam assured his family members, numerous political associates, members of the legal profession and security agencies that he was not in any way associated with the spurious allegations raised by Sahara Reporters whose main objective was to undermine the cause of justice by tarnishing his reputation and, of course, the image of the judge handling the case in which he was the defendant.
Also, he said it was offensive, criminal and unethical for Sahara Reporters to have claimed to speak to him during which he pleaded that the Judge be “left out of the matter” in the non- existent interview.
“Sahara Reporters has never interviewed me and I never gave any interview to the news medium, still less offer the words attributed to me in the report under reference”, he noted.
“It is necessary to point out that although democracy thrives on the basis of freedom of expression, this fundamental freedom should not be used at the detriment of others as Sahara Reporters has done in this instance. I wholly dissociate myself from the allegations published in the said report and hereby reiterate my confidence in the judiciary and undertake to continue to co-operate with the court to ensure a speedy conclusion of my trial so that justice will be done”, the statement noted.