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Arrest of judges threatens harmony in judicial council

By Alifa Daniel and Bridget Chiedu Onochie, Abuja   |   13 October 2016   |   4:21 am
Mahmud Mohammed

Mahmud Mohammed

• Emergency meeting extended to third day
• Investigations to end soon, says DSS

The National Judicial Council (NJC) is fast losing its harmony as members failed to take a common stance on the arrest of judges after meeting for two days in Abuja.

They extended the meeting to a third day — today.

The council is one of the federal executive bodies created by law to insulate the judiciary from undue influence of the executive arm of government.

The Department of State Services (DSS) at the weekend arrested seven judges suspected to be corrupt. Many Nigerians, including the country’s body of lawyers — the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) — and major corporate organisations, have condemned the manner of the arrest.

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Mahmud Mohammed, who chairs the NJC, condemned the action and members still failed to take a definite position at the end of yesterday’s meeting. The Council’s media unit disclosed that the meeting has been adjourned till Thursday.

The council had summoned an emergency meeting on Tuesday to examine the circumstances surrounding the arrests, at the end of which it was expected to issue a statement.

At the end of the first day, the resolution was not reached as the meeting was rescheduled for the following day.

There was an assurance from the media unit that a statement would be issued before the end of the meeting yesterday.

Having waited continuously without further information, journalists decided to remain on the premises of the council, the venue of the meeting, pending when it would be called off.

They were dispersed mid-day by security guards, who insisted that any form of gathering was not permitted around the premises for security reasons.

At the end of the day, it was learnt that the meeting had been extended till today.

Meanwhile, Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court heard some cases yesterday.

Activities in various courts within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) had reduced drastically since the Monday following the clampdown on judges.

The DSS has said investigations into the judges over alleged corruption case would be concluded this week.

A security expert told journalists yesterday evening that the judges might be arraigned next week.

A close associate of the NJC, who did not wish to be named, had said on Tuesday night that judges across the country were disturbed at the manner the SSS went about arresting their colleagues.

He said he was not aware that the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mohammed, wrote any damning letter to President Muhammadu Buhari implicating some of the president’s subordinates in an attempted bribery.

“Even if there was any letter, I am not in a position to know, but all the talk about what they discussed when they met could not have been true,” he said.

He admitted that there was anger among the rank and file of the judiciary over the manner the judges were treated.

  • Iskacountryman

    okon abang is an apc appointed judge…

    • Marcus Ijele

      Only God knows why his house was not raided. That his names were missing shows how selected Buhari and his Terrorists DSS are in their so called fight against corruption. Okon Abang has been the most controversial Judge who conducts and judgments created great suspicions. How can one talk of corrupt judges without mentioning Okon Abang ? Danladi of CCT is another person whose house should have been burgled or do you call it raided by DSS to find money but because they are APC, secret corrupt saint, no one talks of them..

      • okpada

        There is no petition/ case against him in any way for now. But if you have any, forward it to DSS.

        • Marcus Ijele

          Whatever petition comes from clueless APC, who knows nothing about Governance. A busy Government will have no time to petition of hatred.

      • Iskacountryman

        they have his file and are using him…play ball or else…

        • Marcus Ijele


  • amador kester

    High time to institute probes on the operations of this controversial judicial council under whose watch a rogue judiciary was spawned

    • Okoto

      Long overdue.Thanks for your observation.

  • Ayuba Giwa

    The point remains that 1. The manner of arrest is detestable.
    2. Was meant to bring odium to the judiciary, and scare them from giving judgments against the Government in cases.
    3. Erring judiciary officers are not immune from the legal process but are entitled to the constitutionally guaranteed Dignity of the human being.
    4. No one is or can be against the arraignment and sanction of any corrupt persons no matter how highly placed.

  • MINT65

    there was anger among the rank and file of the judiciary over the manner the judges were treated. THE PEOPLE ARE ANGRY ABOUT THE CORRUPTION IN THE JUDICIARY!!!.

    • NinjaK

      Fine! But the peoples’ anger is not a defense for not following proper procedures – chikenna!

      • MINT65

        If you have been a victim of perversion of justice you will definitely speak differently. When you read Sections 9, 10, 12, 13, 148 and 149 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act please come back for a discussion God bless!

        • NinjaK

          Forget all that bro.
          The NJC is a creation of the Constitution.
          The SSS is the creation of an ordinary Act, just like EFCC, ICPC. Anything related to bribery is NOT mentioned in the NSA Act 1986 that gave birth to SSS – whereas bribery is specifically MENTIONED in the EFCC & ICPC acts!
          Any baby Lawyer will tell you that NJC is by far SENIOR TO SSS in any shape, guise, or form. Therefore, SSS can not dare usurp the role/duties of NJC. If SSS is not happy with NJC decisions, let it follow the laid down procedure to complain – period.
          Two wrongs just cant make a right – whereby Lawal Daura ends up taking over every other Agency’s duties. Some people are talking rubbish about SSS being saddled with “internal security” – absolute bullshyt! If they are now alluding that bribery is internal security, then what do they call Fulani Herdsmen murders of whole communities for the past One year? And have we seen SSS doing gestapo-style fence-climbing arrests at 1am of Fulani herdmen?
          Abeg spare me the rhetoric bro.

          • MINT65

            We agree to disagree. God bless.

          • NinjaK

            Yep thanks.
            And read the foremost statement on the NJC website to be further enlightened as per its statutory role –

          • NinjaK
          • NinjaK

            NOW, NJC HAS FULLY RESPONDED TO THE NONSENSE. Read for yourself –

            Honestly, emotions and sentiments – rather than objectivity – will end up killing all of us in this country!

          • MINT65

            Without any mention of the ridiculous amounts of moneys found in the judges houses. ONE JUDGE WAS ASK BY THIS NJC TO PAY BACK A BRIBE IN INSTALLMENTS!! They are inept and extremely corrupt. That is an objective fact and like prof Sagay said when they descend from Mt Olympus they will be treated like ordinary men. Judges are arrested and tried in any decent country. You can not use your high office to receive bribes and pervert justice and complain when you are treated like criminals.Because that is exactly what they are. If corruption is to be tackled in Nigeria and we continue to rely on them We will never make any progress. I rest my case.

          • NinjaK

            You keep losing the focus.
            You can not try to set one wrong aright by doing another wrong – period! Judges can be corrupt, Judges can get arrested, NJC is not infallible, etc etc. LET ALL of us simply follow the Laws!
            Whatever decisions NJC may have made that you, Buhari, or Lawal Daura do not like – there are processes to deal with such. The Office of The President is a creation of the Constitution, but so is NJC. Therefore, if Lawal Daura (an ordinary DG out of 941 others) can not mess up with the President, then he equally MUST NOT mess up with NJC – chikenna. THAT IS THE CONSTITUTION & THE LAW!!!
            If you dont like it, initiate an amendment – simple.
            It is either we all follow the Law, or we jettisson it completely and become our jungle banana republic (which some of you are now advocating for becos of your Buhari cocaine).

          • NinjaK

            “First they came for the Socialists and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me”- Martin Niemoller (1892-1984)!

        • NinjaK

          The Law, and its Courts is no respecter of any Buhari sentiments, personal hatred, or public opinion.

  • Babalakin

    i just have two questions. what does the law says about lawyers who are corrupt and how do you handle such when you have prove. i have no conclusive opinion on it.

    • okpada

      The NBA/ NJC have a joint disciplinary organ which is suppose to de-licence such lawyer from law practice in Nigeria. But the bulk of the people in this body are involve in bribery case one way or the other. For example, Ricky Tarfa who is currently standing a bribery case trial is the head of the NBA disciplinary body. So the body is impotent

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  • AZZO

    Whether they stole the world, there are very well laid down procedure for investigation, invitation, arrest, trial and prosecution. What was meted out to these judges is a commando style detachment of superior power as if in a battle front. It is only in Nigeria you arrest, punish and detain before you begin investigation – that is what all the noise is about the fate of these judges nothing else as they are not above the law.

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