Justice Mohammed Alfa Belgore, a corruption-tainted former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), on Wednesday, emerged chairperson of the federal government’s new 14-person Committee on National Honors.
The reconstitution of the committee was announced in Abuja by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) in a statement signed by the Director of Press, Bolaji Adebiyi.
At the ceremony, which held in Abuja, SGF Babachir David Lawal reminded members of the Committee of the two purposes of the awards.
The first, he said, is to recognize and honor citizens and friends of Nigeria who have distinguished themselves in their various endeavors and contributed immensely to the development of the nation. The other, he reportedly said, is to serve as motivation for all Nigerians to emulate the exemplary conduct and services of those being honored and inspire them for such national recognition.
Mr. Lawal reportedly stressed that for the national award to retain the prestige that it is accorded, recipients who conduct themselves in any dishonorable manner will be stripped, consistent with the stand of the present administration against all forms of corruption.
Speaking at the event, Mr. Alfa Belgore is said to have expressed the appreciation of the members for the honor of their appointment, pledging that they will not disappoint the nation.
The appointment returns Mr. Belgore to the middle of the nation’s corruption debate, where he was last year identified as a key player. As Chief Justice, he was accused of a history of meddling in trials and seeking to bribe willing judges or intimidate those he could not induce.
In a key story published in October 2015, SaharaReporters revealed that embattled Senate President Bukola Saraki had hired Mr. Belgore, in retirement, to broker a judgment by the Court of Appeal by which his trial by the Code of Conduct Tribunal would be squelched.
Some senior lawyers in Abuja with intimate knowledge of the political and justice scene related to SaharaReporters unrefuted accounts of Mr. Belgore’s participation in corrupt activities.
One of those sources went as far as challenging the presidency to order an investigation into how Justice Belgore obtained a massive new mansion in Asokoro, Abuja.
For some reason, the presidency appeared to show no interest in that investigation or related ones.
Instead, it waited six months and on Wednesday, curiously gave a former Chief Justice with no claims to integrity the leadership of a key committee where he stands to determine what honor is, and which Nigerians are worthy of being honored by their country.
Below is the list of all members of the Committee, as announced by the government:
(i) Hon. Justice Mohammed Alfa Belgore (Rtd), GCON - Chairman
(ii) Hon. Justice Umaru Kalgo (Rtd), CFR - Member
(iii) Hon. Justice Isaac Aluyi (Rtd) - Member
(iiii) Mrs. Bola Ogunriade, mni - Member
(v) Nnema Josephine Ndukwu - Member
(vi) Amb. Usman Gaji Galtimari, CON - Member
(vii) Chief Bassey Edem, MFR - Member
(viii) Engineer Gabriel Afu - Member
(ix) Ambassador Nonye Udo - Member
(x) Mr. M. F. Abikoye - Member
(xi) Mr. Y. M. Bichi - Member
(xii) Mrs. Rasheedat Okoduwa, mni - Member
(xiii) Mr. James A. Ibidapo - Member
(xiiii) Mr. Gabriel Loto - Secretary.