Senate moves to amend DSS Act, Reps summon AGF, Daura
• Gowon worried about government’s action
• Buhari appoints two Supreme Court justices
As more criticisms trail the arrest of some judges, the Senate has resolved to amend the laws that establish some security outfits in the country, including the Department of State Services (DSS).
The Senate yesterday condemned what it called “the draconian manner” in which the DSS invaded the residences of the judges and arrested them last Saturday.
Adopting a motion raised via matter of urgent national importance by Joshua Ledani (PDP, Gombe State), the Senate urged President Muhammadu Buhari to call all security agencies to order to observe the rule of law in the discharge of their duties.
The Senate says that the DSS went beyond its bounds when it allegedly usurped the powers of the National Judicial Council (NJC) which has the statutory powers of handling matters of misconduct and indiscipline against judicial officers.
The upper chamber noted that the act of breaking into the residences of judicial officers at night with chisel and hammer has worsened the image of Nigeria among the comity of nations. It pointed out that turning the law upside down to fight corruption is an act of corruption in itself.
Ruling on the prayers of the motion, Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, said: “The National Assembly has been playing its role to support the government in its fight against corruption. We must ensure that this fight is within the rule of law, any act of anti-corruption that goes against the rule of law does not help the corruption fight. That is why this action has been seen in this manner and is condemned by the Senate. All agencies of government must ensure that they act within the rule of law.”
In the House of Representatives yesterday, the lawmakers agreed to invite the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami and the Director General of DSS, Lawal Musa Daura over the arrest of the judges. The summons is to give the AGF and the DSS an opportunity to defend the action.
Considering a matter of urgent national importance raised by Kingsley Chinda, the lawmakers also resolved to set up an ad hoc committee to investigate all cases of invasion of property and arrest of persons for reasons outside the general duties of the DSS as prescribed by the National Securities Act, since May 29, 2013 and report back to members within six weeks.
But Alabi Mojeed Olujinmi fought in vain to prevent his colleagues from acting on the matter, arguing that based on the principle of separation of powers, the security agency is at liberty to interrogate anyone accused of corrupt practices.
Amid protests by some members against the consideration and adoption of the matter, Speaker of the House Yakubu Dogara subjected it to voice vote, in which those who favoured the consideration carried the day.
Also yesterday, former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon expressed concern over the arrest of the allegedly corrupt judges and urged the government to give directives to the operatives not to go outside the laws of the land.
Gowon warned that the situation, if mishandled, could be a threat to democracy. He advised government to do something to make sure that it does not do further harm.
The elder statesman made the comment in Abuja while briefing journalists on the forthcoming 20th anniversary of the Nigeria Prays billed for October 15, 2016 at the National Christian Centre , Abuja.
Gowon said: “It is a serious thing that judges could be arrested. By law, you cannot just arrest anybody outside the law, there should have been a proper way of doing it.”
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has sent the names of Justices Sidi Dauda Bage from Nasarawa State and Paul Adamu Galinje from Taraba State to the Senate for confirmation as justices of the Supreme Court.