CCB, Wike disagree on invasion of judges’ residence
• DSS did not come to my house, says Justice Liman
• Reps mull review of security agencies act
The Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) yesterday disagreed with Governor Nyesom Wike over the legality of the recent attempt by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) to arrest a Federal High Court judge in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
CCB’s chairman, Mr. Sam Saba who appeared before the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee probing the propriety of all cases of property and arrest of persons by the DSS insisted that the agency has the power to arrest, investigate and prosecute any corrupt practices.
Saba, who referred to section 2 sub-section 3 of the National Security Act Act Cap N74 to back his claim, asserted that there was no law barring the DSS from exercising such powers in view of the fact that corruption constitutes a crime against internal security.
The CCB chief who was put on the spot by a member of the committee, Mr. Kingsley Chinda, as to whether false declaration of assets and corrupt practices constitute security threats, disclosed that his outfit was directed by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the federation (AGF) to produce the asset declaration forms of judges.
Wike, represented by the state Commissioner of Justice and Attorney General, Mr. Emmanuel Aguma, argued that it was outside the powers of the DSS to dabble in the traditional roles of the police in the prevention, investigation and prosecution of crime as well as the maintenance of law and order where such acts do not threaten the internal security.
According to him: “This duty is restricted to every economic crime that threatens national security. An example is the crime of money laundering. The DSS cannot prevent, detect or investigate money laundering. They can only do this when it affects national security, for instance where the proceeds are used to advance terrorism.”
Meanwhile, a Port Harcourt-based Federal High Court judge, Abdullahi Liman faulted media report that his residence was invaded.
“I must state that the DSS did not come to my house, but it was the house of Justice U. Agomoh they targeted,” he said.
And a group, Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA), in a statement yesterday, said:
“The Federal Attorney General and Minister of Justice Alhaji Abubakar Malami (SAN) and the Director General of the DSS should as a matter of national interest inform Nigerians why a justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria out of the two whose private homes were invaded in the wee hours of the night has so far been arraigned before a competent court of law whereas there is total silence on what has become of the second”.
Besides the group said “the Federal Attorney General and the hierarchy of DSS owe Nigerians public explanation and profound apologies to the judges who couldn’t be arraigned after astonishing allegations of bribery were peddled publicly against them and for the public disgrace they were subjected to undergo whilst the controversial invasion lasted.”
It also sought clarification on the allegation that $2 million USD cash was smuggled out of a judge’s home before the DSS arrived.
“We note that since October 7th, 2016 when the homes of some justices of the Supreme Court were invaded and the duo of Justices Sylvester Ngwuta and John Inyang Okoro were disgracefully arrested, whisked away, detained and a spokesperson of the DSS spoke to Nigerians making sensational claims but only Justice Ngwuta has had his day in Court whilst the generality of Nigerians are left in the dark concerning the decision on Justice John Inyang-Okoro of the Supreme Court and few other Federal High Court judges who were also named and shamed in the media.”
In a statement, through the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA said it would be preposterous if both the offices of Attorney General of Nigeria and the Director General of the DSS would create deliberate information black out over a matter that both officials through their surrogates have publicly celebrated as a major anti-graft crusade.
HURIWA said that both under the various provisions of the Nigerian Constitution and the Freedom of Information Act, it is illegal for public officials to pick and choose when and what half information to dish out to the public even when the public image of hitherto well respected members of the public such as Judges have already been dragged into the mud and mercilessly messed up.
HURIWA cited section 15 (4) and 15(5) which provides as follows: “The State shall foster a feeling of belonging and of involvement among the various people of the Federation, to the end that loyalty to the nation shall override sectional loyalties”. “The State shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power” to affirm that government must transparently carry Nigerians along regarding information dissemination on the anti-corruption project.
HURIWA recalled that on Friday night, 7th October 2016, security operatives raided the Abuja residences of Justices Sylvester Ngwuta, John Inyang Okoro of the Supreme Court, and whisked them away.
They also picked Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court, Abuja at his Apo Legislative Quarters home and searched the house of another Abuja Federal High Court Judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba. In Gombe, the operatives whisked away Justice Mu’azu Pindiga of the state High Court.
HURIWA recalled too that an official of the Service, Abdullahi Garba, who briefed newsmen at the DSS headquarters in Abuja, said the operation which attracted widespread condemnation was against corrupt Judges and that it will be sustained until sanity and sanctity is restored.
According to the DSS official, the Service, in the past few days, had embarked on a series of special sting operations involving some judges of the Supreme, Appeal and High Courts.
He said: “The searches have uncovered huge raw cash of various denominations, local and foreign currencies, with real estate worth several millions of naira and documents affirming unholy acts by these Judges.” Garba gave a summary of the money recovered from search on the houses of three judges as: N93, 558,000; $ 530,087; £25, 970; € 5,680.”
HURIWA expressed worry that nearly months after these invasions only few of the judges have been validly charged even as the image of all the judges arrested have been tarnished.