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DSS to arrest more judges for graft, trial begins soon

By Alifa Daniel, Collins Olayinka, Terhemba Daka (Abuja), Joseph Onyekwere (Lagos) and Anietie Akpan (Calabar)   |   10 October 2016   |   6:22 am


• JUSUN demands unconditional release
• NBA team meets with CJN
• Corruption, not judiciary under attack, says presidency

More judges are to be arrested across the country by the Department of State Services (DSS) in the ongoing alleged move to tackle corruption in the judiciary.

As the government yesterday defended the arrest of some judges at the weekend, it disclosed that it would arraign the affected judicial officers in court this week.

Besides, in a statement by Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu last night, the Presidency insisted that President Mohammadu Buhari still reserves his highest respect for the institution of the judiciary as the third arm of government, and will not do anything to undermine its independence.

Meanwhile, crisis is brewing between workers in the judiciary and the government over the arrest of the judges. The Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) has summoned its National Executive Council (NEC) to an emergency meeting to decide on its next line of action on the matter.

Speaking with some journalists in his country home at Ugep, Cross River State at the weekend, the Special Assistant to the President on Prosecution, Mr. Okoi Obono Obla said the arrest was constitutional and that the DSS acted within the ambit of the law. He described the action as an unprecedented achievement of government in the anti-corruption fight. According to him, more of such actions will take place to ensure that corruption is checked in the country.

Obla stated: “The problem with us is that when the big man is arrested it becomes a problem or an issue because he can use money to stall many things. The Nigerian big man wants us to have two standards of justice; one for the big man and another for the poor man, and we say no to that. The big man should not do anything and get away with it in this country. The poor people are being arrested every day and nobody talks about them.

“Everybody should be subjected before the law. If the president does not have immunity, he can be arrested. The Senate president was
arraigned and put on trial, so what is wrong with arresting Supreme Court justices?

“They will be arraigned before the court. The DSS carried out their operations constitutionally with a bench warrant and are free to do their work at any time of the day.

The Nigerian big men must change their mentality and subject themselves before the law.

“It is unprecedented in Africa for senior judges to be arrested for corruption and you say we are not fighting corruption? Judges are
partly responsible, the corrupt lawyers are partly responsible.”

It was learnt yesterday that one or two Supreme Court justices and six other judges across the country may soon be taken to interrogation centres to answer questions on their financial integrity.

These are apart from the two Supreme Court justices still in detention and five other judges already facing interrogators at the Yellow House, the headquarters of the security services in Abuja.

Justice Adeniyi Ademola was among the judges who were reportedly harassed by the DSS last Saturday, and he is currently being held at the DSS headquarters in Abuja.

Other judges reported to have been held by the DSS include Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, also of the Federal High Court, and Justice Sylvester Ngwuta of the Supreme Court.

Also, banks which have come under the investigation radar of the secret police will soon feel the heat .

The JUSUN described the action of the government as uncivilised, calling for unconditional release of the judges.

The Guardian learnt that the union will unveil its next line of action after the meeting billed to hold tomorrow if its demand is not met.

National President of JUSUN, Marwan Adamu, in a statement by the National Public Relations Officer, Koin Selepreye, said though the union was in support of the anti-corruption war of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, the rule of law must be respected.

The judiciary workers lamented what they described as the Gestapo style of the DSS on the matter, pointing out that the secret police should have forwarded the names of the alleged corrupt officers to the National Judicial Council (NJC) which is the statutory body that punishes or dismisses any erring judicial officer.

But 24 hours after the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) demanded the immediate release of the judges, it appeared the government would not budge.
The NBA, through its President Mr. Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN) had set up a crisis management team comprising the association’s past presidents and general secretaries to investigate the situation.

As at yesterday, a member of the committee, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN) said they would meet with the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mohammed Mahmud today.

  • Aristotle

    It is heartbreaking how quick we all rally round supposed “victims” of the corruption arrests and investigation. These corrupt officials are the primary reason why our judiciary does not appeal to the masses.

    We are all used to hearing of injunctions and counter injunctions whenever a “big man” is about to be arrested for misdeeds. Some even manage to obtain perpetual injunctions over government to protect themselves. Nigerians are now so used to such events we simply shrug and move on with the business of survival.

    Now, for the first time a government has decided to shake the proverbial judicial tree and dry leaves and branches are tumbling down. These lawyers and SANs rallying round obviously are trying to protect the status quo because it will be their turn to inherit these juicy positions tomorrow.

    Rather than allow the judges to prove their innocence, they all commence the usual rigmarole of threats and ultimatum. Therein lies the basis of our problem; we only fight policies we perceive as inimical to our personal progress regardless how they impact the nation.

    Soon we’ll start to read how the arrested judges are Christians and southerners. Bottom line is, a thief is a thief. He who contrives to fetch ant infested wood, has unwittingly invited lizards to a feast!

    • Basil Ogbanufe

      My brother, innocent until proven guilty which is reflective of a civilized society.

      And not guilty until proven innocent, as in the jungle.

      • Aristotle

        Nobody is saying the judges are guilty already. I’m simply suggesting that their supporters allow them prove their innocence. Being custodians of the law, I’m sure they know the legal process very well. I believe the DSS won’t jump up and arrest such personalities if they weren’t sure of making their case stick

        • Basil Ogbanufe

          My brother, if you have to prove you are innocent then you are assumed guilty. This is the jungle style not the civilized. Also, why go armed to “arrest” a judge, and at night as if going after the kingpin of an armed robbery gang? A lot is certainly amiss.

          My dear brother, “Big brother” should follow due process or he is guilty of the corruption he claims to be fighting.

          • jude o

            Gentlemen What is wrong in the arrest of these men? They should prove themselves innocent. The day of the those in power is also coming to account for whatever they are doing wither it is right or wrong.

          • Basil Ogbanufe

            My brother,
            1. Due process was not followed. This is impunity, and it’s corruption.

            2. Those men are justices and judges not armed robbery or drug gang kingpins.

            3. This is democracy not military dictatorship.

            4. Remember innocent till proven guilty is foundation for a civilized society.

            5. Guilty till proven innocent is for the jungle.

          • Iskacountryman

            no…they should not prove themselves innocent…the dss or the nigerian state should prove them guilty…dimwit…

          • rabzy

            So is all this noise because they were arrested at night. So if it was during the day it would e alright. Do you know if the judges were around during the day. Is it against the law to arrest at night, so every other person can be arrested during the night but not judges or politicians.

          • Basil Ogbanufe

            Yes, because it was at night. Yes, if it was in broad daylight “Big brother” won’t have anything to hide. Night arrests are meant for kingpins of gangs that will put up resistance. My brother discuss with any police officer and they will confirm this. Arrests are done in broad daylight expect where resistance is anticipated. Why should a justice or judge put up a resistance?

          • Olumba2004

            @Basil Ogbanufe, that is your own opinion. The law did not state when someone should be arrested. Anybody can be arrested at anytime. Why should the custodians of law not be arrested? I am waiting for them to interpret the law since they are the third arm of government. Everybody wants corruption to stop yet people like you don’t want the “big fishes” to be caught. If it is the politicians that are arrested it “witch hunting”, and if it is the judges “it is jungle style”. You guys are not serious in your country. Here in the U.S the FBI can arrest you anytime they so wished. What is wrong in arresting the judges? Are they not Nigerians, swimming in the pool of embezzled wealth of the nation. They will steal Billions and they will get plea bargain, and when ordinary man steals cell phone he would be handed 12 years with hard labor. What a lousy nation!!

          • Basil Ogbanufe

            The issue is not the judges but the process. 1. Why at midnight? Are they gang kingpins? Would they have resisted arrest?
            2. If government had warrant of arrest it means they must have invited the judges for interrogation. When was the interrogations?
            3. Why didn’t the DSS not show Wike their warrant of arrest? Instead they threatened to shoot him.
            4. If you violate due process then you are wrong and certainly, you have something to hide.
            The FG is hiding something pretending it is fighting corruption.

          • Adesuwa

            Thank you again.

        • Iskacountryman

          dummy…has any judge been arraigned before a court on any count?

      • loko efe

        sincerely the judges have perverted justice for so long in this country, they should be shaken a bit and lets see the sincerely ones that will remain standing. they have been the clog in the wheel of progress of this country.

        • Basil Ogbanufe

          My brother two wrongs have never made a right. If the judges are wrong should the president be wrong? We are not in a banana republic where anyone is guilty merely because of an accusation. There are laws and due processes. If the president can not get a successful prosecution through his agents whose fault is that? Is that not proof of incompetence? Please what is wrong is wrong, and again two wrongs never make a right.

      • Adesuwa

        Thank you.

    • utolason

      So true! That typifies some Nigerians and their evil associations or unions.

    • samtalkback

      Nice one. Whether they like or not, Nigeria would rise above them. This orchestrated jungle society we find ourselves, only favours the rogues who bought justice with ill-gotten monies, but silence the petty thieves, and such judgement helped to keep the country this way for 56 years. It doesn’t matter, who they are ”whatever a man sows, so he shall reap”

  • vincentumenyiora

    [Obla stated: “The problem with us is that when the big man is arrested it becomes a problem or an issue because he can use money to stall many things. The Nigerian big man wants us to have two standards of justice; one for the big man and another for the poor man, and we say no to that. The big man should not do anything and get away with it in this country. The poor people are being arrested every day and nobody talks about them.

    “Everybody should be subjected before the law. If the president does not have immunity, he can be arrested. The Senate president was
    arraigned and put on trial, so what is wrong with arresting Supreme Court justices?]

    My take here is that Nigeria should have done (come out) much better if they had followed my recommendations in the Self Sustaining system for your politics; in which case every Nigerian will be performing individually on his own and not through group i. e. caucus, religion or ethnicity cover or encumbrances! In my recommendations aare ways to deal with your corruption, debauchery and Asset declaration to mention these few even the National Orientation Lai Muhammed is grappling with now is contained in my solutions for Nigeria! Trouble about you people I said it early also – Nigeria in a QUANDARY, is that you give the solutions they don’t act but sooner they’ll convert such to be their own ideas and in attempt to implement such they run into problems! So, see where we are with Judges unashamedly and Ghana dismissed about 7 of their own Judges on the same corruption allegations or crime!!

    See what I find ludicrous about NIGERIA: last week Alhaji Lai Muhammed was under fire for allegedly plagiarizing the ide of Change begins with me from one Mr. Ade’s letter and there was this furore about the claim: Now I have complained about my Option A-4 and the adjuncts to it and nobody in the administration dared to raise concerns whether I am telling the truth or not – but don’t worry the facts will soon be released and like I said nobody should blame me when it becomes a public matter and comes to the public gaze!

    To say that you have been handed an effective tools to help you control corruption in Nigeria irrespective of who it may concern but for the stupid psychology – if he is not your tribes man/ woman don’t listen/ mind him – don’t take his solution or take it and ignore him! But you discover that the problems will soon return – thus as they say it, what goes round usually comes around, folks!

    There is no doubt about what we are witness in Nigeria about this new development; it is more on land disputes and Judges take delight in the act depriving people of their God given portions of pieces of Land! Somebody needs to sit up about the crime – corruption in Nigeria and incidentally I have offered th solution yet nobody wants to accept it and the UNO said to me as earl as 2001 to re-submit my solution through my home-government so that they can consider to accept it!

    • Mazi Okey

      You all know that these judges are accessories to all the executive crimes in this country. How can we have cases of governors who looted their states pending for over seven years? Sometimes we will hear that case files are missing in our courts, yet we have court registrars, police DCO, and attorney general’s office of DPP. Who is fooling who? Supreme court and appeals court judges will blatantly sell justice to the highest bidder, regardless of any evidence to the contrary. NJC will retire a corrupt judge with full benefit who took bribe of any amount, and we call that justice. As long as DSS went to the affected judges homes with valid warrants, they have acted according to the tenets of the law. NBA can complain all they want, after all their so called SANs are the conduits through which these judges are influenced. It is about time both the corrupt judges and lawyers are arrested and prosecuted.

  • MoreThanConqueror

    Judiciary under attack not corruption ,this administration is as corrupt as others or more, this is the first president that cannot credbily show WAEC, and when the issue came ,men that took the issue were roundly harassed and intimidated, this is the most deceptive governments i have ever seen,who made the people believe that he was so poor that he couldnot afford the presidential one and an old women was so taken in by this blatant lies by un unrepented liar that she gave up her whole life saving but after one year ,the wife of the so called dictator or saint is spotted going about with 42 million naira worth custom made bag, thats sheer corruption, Let her be investigated now, instead you are diverted people attensions to judges that didnot any proven wrong, these to my mind are judges are that openly known for integrity and for their independent mind as seen in their refusing to be cowed by the executive as the last hope of the common man in Nigeria, Buhari is so bent on pursuing and implement the islamic agenda ,hence he need to stigmatize them as corrupt to get them out of the way, well meaning people of the country, and stakeholders should not keep quite, tommorrow it may be your turn to be intimidated by the Fulani-Hause oligarchy that has finally taken tight of the center, arise oh compariots, This is strange,

  • Austin_77478

    My people of Nigeria, let not our agitation for Biafra, religious affiliation, tribal sentiment be a nebulous to what’s going on in Nigeria right now. In California, fire fighters fight fire with fire sometimes to curtail the fire. If something drastic isn’t done in Nigeria judiciary, the country will go into a precipice.

  • ImpactK

    That Nigerian Judges and Judiciary system is as obvious as 9 months pregnancy. Do we talk about Perpetual Injunction awarded against all Nigeria institutions against one man called Odili? who happens to be Wike Political leader. Do we talk about Ibori discharged and acquitted in Nigeria but easily jailed in UK? Do we talk about corruption cases that started way back 2007 against former governors that are now richer than the states they ruled? The arrest should continue and due process should be followed to charge them to court. We understand the position of our lawyers being the number one beneficiary of the corrupt Democratic system where institution have been weakened.

  • vincentumenyiora

    Mazi Okeyn – My problem with you lot is that of comprehension – i. e. being able to see far into the horizon otherwise, like I said several time, I gave you people the simple but adequate or compatible solutions for the crime of corruption and others associated with it perversion, in Nigeria and early too but for that QUANDARY most of you are in, in Nigeria! Even as we discuss these problems, none in the administration has said look, let’s see what this man is pointing finger at! Yet you employ people daily none has the right solutions other than to copy what is submitted and they try to amplify them only to end up compounding your problems! May God help you people; after Buhari we shall see how you’ll manage that country – it’ll be like a flood gate opened up!

  • Yuyu

    I read comments from Nigerians and it reminds me of why millions are still and will remain in diaspora, they cry when something is terribly wrong, they shout when someone tries to correct the wrong, they suffer in silence and silence whoever dares to talk, wetin una want? Corruption has finished that country, everybody knows that, the only difference between us Nigerians and other developed people is accountability, when your judiciary is corrupt nothing else will function because they are the sole custodian of law, order and justice. Forget North, South, East, West rulers, they have all come and looted, now that someone is trying to do something about it, the same suffering Nigerians are complaining, who no know say you fit bribe your way out of anything for 9ja? The environment where people live and grow affects them, anybody under 56 years old in Nigeria has lived under one form of corruption or another, sadly it has become the norm, this is why many people are fighting against change, simply because it’s the only way they know how to function.

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