*Photo: Wabote *
The Executive Secretary, Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Engr. Simbi Kesiye Wabote, has been urged to focus his energy to clear his name as a public servant on the alleged Perjury and corruption allegations against him rather than allegedly engage in subterfuge and allegedly commissioning hirelings and unemployed citizens to attack credible organisations and individuals asking him to be respond to demands of accountability.
This was contained in a statement signed by the National Coordinator of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko on Thursday.
HURIWA was reacting to a publication credited to a group, under the aegis of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Indigenous Operators Association (NOGIOA), led by one Alhaji Galadima Auwal, in which the organization attacked the former National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Timi Frank, and the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) for asking the public office holder to account for allegations against him, including alleged ownership of foreign banks accounts while in office.
The CNPP had in a statement on Wednesday asked Engr. Simbi Kesiye Wabote to step down as the Executive Secretary of NCDMB for a thorough investigation of allegations of corruption against him within 21 days.
According to HURIWA, “resorting to blackmail at this critical point will not provide the answers to the questions on the minds of Nigerians.
“Why is the Executive Secretary, a public office holder, not presenting his case before the US Court on allegations that he runs foreign accounts as well as the perjury case that is ongoing in the court in the United States so he can very well be listened to by right thinking Nigerians when he objects to his alleged characterization in some online publications as a public officer who allegedly is in conflict with the law?
“How is he funding the libel case he allegedly instituted at the United States against a US based journalist because we all know that engaging a US based Attorney doesn’t come cheap since they are paid in Dollars?
“Is he paying the US lawyers from his private pocket or is he using public funds? He should provide convincing evidence on the sources of the funds for the lawsuit because we are sending him FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST SOON.
“So, allegedly engaging some jobless citizens to attack credible organisations and credible individuals who are calling for accountability by the public office holders won’t answer those questions and many others.
“You cannot channel your energies towards attacking some credible organisations like a Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) and other persons like Timi Frank who has served as deputy national publicity secretary of the APC rather than publicly coming out clean on the allegations already in public domain.
“The CNPP and other credible civil society organisations, as well as notable anti-corruption campaigners like Timi Frank are only asking for accountability.
“We therefore align ourselves with the call by the CNPP for the Executive Secretary, Engr. Wabote, to step aside for proper investigation into the issues bordering on alleged corruption and abuse of office levelled against him.
“We would like to know how he is paying his lawyers in the United States of America as a public office holder because we know that prosecuting a case in the United States is very expensive.
“We hereby join the CNPP and other civil society organisations to demand for the immediate suspension of Engr. Wabote as Executive Secretary, Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) for open probe of the allegations of corruption and operation of foreign accounts as a public servant in Nigeria and if he clears his name or wins the subsisting litigation he can then fully concentrate in discharging his mandate as a public office holder because this matter in the USA won’t let him deliver on his mandates with minimal distraction”, the statement read.
HURIWA recalled that recently the media reported that Mr. Simbi Kesiye Wabote, Executive Secretary, Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) allegedly risks contempt sanction and a possible jail for alleged perjury and lying on oath in a libel case he instituted against Jackson Ude, a journalist, in a United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Attorney to Ude from Amadi Law Office at 204 Blossom Street Extension, Suite A. Lynn MA 01901, Barr. Beneth O. Amadi, had in a letter dated January 15, 2022 and addressed to the Honourable Joseph F. Leeson, Jr., United States District Judge, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, 504 West Hamilton Street, Suite 3401, alleged that Wabote perjured (lied on oath) in his response to interrogatories.
The court had on Tuesday, December 21, 2021 ordered Wabote, to provide “full and complete responses to defendant’s interrogatories”, as the court was not satisfied with earlier responses provided by Wabote and his counsel.
But in his reaction to the responses by Wabote to the interrogatories, counsel for Defendant (Ude) wrote to the court demanding sanction for “Plaintiff (Wabote) and his Attorneys for committing fraud on the court, for perjury and for acting in subornation of perjury in this case.”
Alternatively, the Defendant’s lawyer requested “for an order of this court mandating the Plaintiff and his attorneys to appear and show cause why they should not be held in contempt and/or sanctioned by this court.
Part of the letter as quoted in the media stated thus:
“Dear Judge Leeson, Jr.,
“I am the counsel for the Defendant in this case. It is very painful that the Defendant is making this request in this case. But this has become necessary because Plaintiff and his Attorneys, Michael Cilento and David D. Lin, have deliberately and remorselessly committed fraud on this court with the knowing intention of derailing the course of justice and torpedoing Defendant’s access to justice in this case. The Plaintiff has consistently perjured himself and has lied on oath in his discovery responses; while Plaintiff’s Attorneys have consistently encouraged him and have acted in subornation of perjury, to the prejudice of the Defendant and in violation of Defendant’s due processes of law rights. Defendant hereby asks for deterrent sanctions against them.
“Defendant respectfully asks the Court to impose the necessary sanctions, or in the alternative, for an order mandating the Plaintiff and his Attorneys, Michael Cilento and David D. Lin, to appear and show cause why they should not be sanctioned by this court for fraud on the court, for committing perjury, and for acting in subornation of perjury.
“Plaintiff deliberately perjured himself and lied on oath in his discovery [Interrogatory] responses in this case. Plaintiff’s Attorneys are fully aware of plaintiff’s conduct. But they acted to encourage Plaintiff, covered up the violations and acted in subornation of perjury. These conducts have prejudiced Defendant’s access to justice, and has frustrated Defendant’s ability to honestly defend himself in this case.
“Defendant’s Interrogatory #11 to the Plaintiff requested Plaintiff to: Identify and clearly state all and every bank, no matter where located, where you have maintained any bank account from 2010 to the present, whether still in operation or closed. See Exhibit A.
“In the Plaintiff’s response to this Interrogatory #11, Plaintiff lied on oath and deliberately refused to disclose all his bank accounts. See Exhibit A, para 11. Plaintiff signed this document on oath and under the pains and penalties of perjury.
“In responding to Defendant’s Interrogatory #11, Plaintiff also fraudulently left out several of his bank accounts, especially, his bank accounts with the Zenith Bank of Nigeria and Fidelity Bank of Nigeria.
“On or about December 19, 2021, Defendant received the copy of a Petition written by Nigeria’s Transparency and Accountability against the Plaintiff, Wabote. Please see Exhibit B. The said petition was directed to the Nigerian Code of Conduct Bureau.
“This Exhibit B reveals Plaintiff’s bank accounts with the Zenith Bank of Nigeria (Account No. 1013755048) and Fidelity Bank of Nigeria (Account No. 4010268127). But Plaintiff deceitfully failed to include these accounts in his response to Defendant’s Interrogatory #11. See Exhibit A, paragraph 11.
“The Plaintiff’s counsels were immediately made aware of Exhibit B. Plaintiff’s counsels saw these information and knew that Plaintiff lied on oath. But they took no corrective measure, to the Defendant’s detriment and against the honest administration of justice.”
Wabote and his Attorneys had in response to Interrogatory #11 admitted that the Plaintiff had bank accounts with Bank of America, HSBC Dubai, First Bank Nigeria, Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria, SunTrust Bank Nigeria without listing their account numbers.
According to Ude’s attorney, Wabote “fraudulently left out several of his bank accounts, especially, his bank accounts with the Zenith Bank of Nigeria and Fidelity Bank of Nigeria.”
The letter continues: “Additionally, in #1 of Defendant’s second set of Interrogatories to the Plaintiff, Defendant specifically asked Plaintiff to: Please clearly, fully and specifically state your monthly income (from whatever source) and expenses, and stating clearly and specifically the sources of your stated income, from 2019 to the present.
“But notwithstanding the fact that Plaintiff secretly runs a private registered corporation “with interest in landing state contracts,” as revealed by and in Exhibit B, Plaintiff again lied on oath and failed to reveal this company and the illicit flow of funds, in his response to this Interrogatory #1. Please see Exhibit C. This deception was also made on oath. Plaintiff’s said corporation is TEE and T Concepts Nigeria Limited, incorporated in Yenagoa, Nigeria with Registration Number 419331.
“Plaintiff’s attorneys are fully aware of these deceptive misrepresentations. But the Plaintiff’s attorneys acted to cover up the lies, in subornation of perjury and to encourage the frauds on the court, to the prejudice and detriment of the Defendant and justice.
“The actions of the Plaintiff and his Attorneys were calculated to interfere with this court’s ability to impartially adjudicate this case by improperly influencing this court and/or unfairly hampering the presentation of the Defendant’s defenses in this case.
“A ‘fraud on the court’ occurs where it can be demonstrated, clearly and convincingly, that a party has sentiently set in motion some unconscionable scheme calculated to interfere with the judicial system’s ability impartially to adjudicate a matter by improperly influencing the trier or unfairly hampering the presentation of the opposing party’s claim or defense.” Rockdale Mgmt. Co. v. Shawmut Bank, N.A., 418 Mass. At 598, quoting from Aoude v. Mobil Oil Corp., 892 F.2d 1115, 1118 (1st Cir. 1989).
“Truth needs no disguise. Hazel Atlas Glass Co. v. Hartford-Empire Co., 322 U.S. 238247 (1944). An effective judicial system depends on the honesty and integrity of lawyers who appear in their tribunals. Matter of Finnerty, Thomas E., 418 Mass. 821, 829. The Plaintiff and his Attorneys are not forthright. They have soiled the integrity of the legal system. Navarro-Ayala v. Nunez, 968 F.2d 1421, 1426 (1st Cir. 1992) (“Courts cannot function if lawyers and litigants are not forthright.”). It is part of a lawyer’s overall obligation to the court, and to the judicial system, to help that system function properly to achieve the just resolution of controversies; and which is “meant, in some small degree, to enlist the bar in the enterprise of administering the law, thereby making it more difficult for the strong or wealthy, to use the very costs of the legal system to undermine its basic objectives.” Unanue-Casal v. Unanue-Casal, 898 F.2d 839, 842 (1st Cir. 1990). Defendant’s request for sanctions should be allowed in the interest of justice.
“Defendant asks for sanctions against the Plaintiff and his Attorneys pursuant the inherent jurisdiction of this court to do justice, and pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(b)(2)(A)(i)-(vi) for the Plaintiff’s truncation of the discovery process and the commission of frauds on the court.
“Alternatively, Defendant asks for an order mandating the Plaintiff and his Attorneys to appear and show cause why they should not be held in contempt of court, and/or be sanctioned severely. Tampering with the administration of justice in the manner exhibited herein involves more than an injury to a single litigant. Hazel-Atlas, at 246. Additionally, pursuant to 37(b)(2)(C), Defendant requests that the Plaintiff and his Attorneys be ordered to pay for the Defendant’s attorneys’ fees and expenses.”