There are indications that Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja is likely to face charges of corruption in no distant time.
A competent source said he solicited and took $100,000 bribe from a lawyer (name withheld) defending the Former Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, in the pension Scam case. The late Senator Buruji Kashamu and one Mr T. were instrumental to the deal.
According to the source, the balance of $100,000 was to be paid to the federal Judge after he had compromised in the said case to the advantage of the former Pension boss.
The judge, who makes over N500,000 a month, was alleged to have halted proceedings in a medical malpractice trial on Friday in order to take the bribe, which the source said was a downpayment on a total of $200,000.
The authorities used a lady to secretly tape the bribe payment to the judge, the source said.
"Justice Abang repeated the demand the next day. Then early August, Justice Abang telephoned Mr. T and the lawyer and asked them to come see him. The lawyer went to the judge's chambers with a hidden recorder and paid the judge the bribe while he secretly recorded the encounter, an official said.
Trouble began when Justice Abang insisted that the balance must be paid before he completes the hatchet job, an arrangement Maina was not comfortable with, the source said.
In view of the development, the former Pension boss repeatedly asked the trial judge to recuse himself from the matter which was refused, according to the source.
Since the twist, Justice Abang had been hostile to the accused in a bid to coarse him to pay the balance.
A law enforcement official said yesterday that prosecutors and investigators from the office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and NJC would begin to review all the judge's old cases and would likely be interviewing some of the lawyers who had appeared before him. ''We're going to look at this guy from top to bottom,'' the official said.
Prosecutors expect to file an indictment against Justice Justice Abang as soon as discreet investigation is concluded, an official said.
If convicted, the judge could face a sentence between probation and 15 years in prison for the charge of second-degree bribe receiving, a felony.
Actors in the judicial landscape are extremely concerned by these allegations, the source said.
Meanwhile, Justice Abang on Wednesday, ordered the revocation of Abdulrasheed Maina's bail, following his absence from attending his trial.
Okon Abang, the judge, who gave the order in a ruling, also issued a bench warrant for Mr Maina’s arrest “anywhere he is sighted.”
The EFCC’s lawyer, Mohammed Abubakar, while making the applications, had told the court that the former pension boss, who was granted bail in the sum of N500 million with a surety in the like sum who must be a serving senator, had jumped bail.
Before now Maina's lawyers, Kinsmen and some Civil Society Organizations had repeatedly asked Justice Okon Abang to recuse himself from Maina's case for exhibiting some level of bias, which was dismissed.
They alleged that the judge had insisted on the appearance of Maina for trial, despite a medical report that showed that he is critically ill and on admission at Maitama District Hospital.
All efforts to reach justice Abang as at the time of filling this report proved abortive.