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CJN condemns judges’ arrest


Chief Justice of Nigeria Justice Mahmud Mohammed

Chief Justice of Nigeria Justice Mahmud Mohammed

• NJC wades into crisis
• NBA rejects Presidency’s defence
• DSS releases judicial officers

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Mahmud Mohammed, has condemned the arrest of judges by the Department of State Services (DSS), describing the development as deeply distressing.

Justice Mohammed spoke at a valedictory session held at the Supreme Court in honour of Justice Suleiman Galadima, who reached the mandatory retirement age of 70.

He urged Nigerians to remain calm as an emergency meeting of the National Judicial Council (NJC) today will comprehensively look into the matter.

“It is indeed very saddening and deeply regrettable, the distressing and unfortunate incident which occurred on Friday, October 7 and Sunday, October 8. 2016.

“However, I urge all Nigerians to remain calm and prayerful. I must express my sincere appreciation to the executive of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) ably led by the president, Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN), and indeed all members of the legal profession, for their ‎prompt action and continued support,” he said.

The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami (SAN), who was expected to attend the event was absent and not represented.

Mahmoud said President Muhammadu Buhari should call the security agencies responsible for the arrest of the judges to order.

“We viewed these actions as illegal and unconstitutional and a threat to the independence of the judiciary and must be aimed at intimidating the judiciary and the legal profession.

“This military-style operations are totally unacceptable in a democratic society. They are unacceptable against private citizens but even more so against serving justices of superior courts,” he said.

According to Mahmoud, the NBA has rejected the presidency’s defence that the arrests were targeted at corruption and not the judiciary: “We find it absurd that the presidency will accept assurances from the DSS that it followed due process of the law.

“We maintain our position that these operations are illegal and unconstitutional. I want to reiterate that the position of the NBA is not aimed at protecting any judge. We are not also shielding any judge from investigation over charges of corruption.”

On the division among lawyers over the arrests and raid of the judges’ houses, the NBA president said: “We are clear that raiding houses of justices of the Supreme Court in the middle of the night by masked armed men is not the way to go. We do not accept it. This portends real danger to the Nigerian democracy. It is contrary to all civilised norms and accepted standards. ”

Mahmoud said the core mandate of the DSS was to guarantee internal and national security. He urged the DSS to restrict itself to its constitutional and statutory duties. “It is not the duty of DSS to conduct police investigation or arraign and prosecute cases of corruption. It is not its responsibility to conduct sting operations on judges for corruption or ‎professional misconduct in the middle of the night.”

Mahmoud, therefore, called on the CJN to immediately take necessary and urgent steps to set in motion the process of cleansing the system.

He called on lawyers to remain resolute and speak with one voice, adding that “this is not the time to be divided. Urgent steps must be taken to restore confidence of the Nigerian people in the nation’s judiciary.”

The DSS at the weekend raided the homes of Justice Sylvester Ngwuta and Justice John Okoro, both of the Supreme Court and Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court in Abuja.

A senior official of the DSS, Garbage Abdullahi, on Saturday disclosed that local and foreign currencies, totalling about N270 million, were recovered from the three senior judges.

Meanwhile, the DSS has released the arrested judges who were Sunday night sent back to their homes. Journalists that thronged an Abuja magistrate’s court yesterday left the place disappointed. Their siege on the court followed speculations that the judges were to be arraigned so they could get bail, unknown to many that the judicial officers spent the night in their homes. This was said to be a move by the DSS to play by the rules and douse tension.

A security source said last night: “They were all released on bail yesterday on self- recognition. They reported this morning (Monday) and they have all gone back home. They will be coming back tomorrow (today). And everything went very procedurally well and civil.”

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  • Basil Ogbanufe

    Hmmmmm……? Fraudulent government, claiming to be fighting corruption.

    • Olumba2004

      @Basil Ogbanufe, you are just ranting and spewing gibberish because there is no more government’s money to be shared. When your idol (GEJ) was there and using the same DSS to terrorize others, people like you sat on the fence and act indifference because you are benefiting directly or indirectly from the his government. If this government does not soot you, take them to court or stop your lowly criticism of the government fighting corruption. At least we have seen a president that has now defined corruption as outright stealing and not your idol that said “stealing is not corruption”. If you don’t like what is going on you can relocate to North Korea. Nonsense!

      • Basil Ogbanufe

        My brother you don’t have to be angry. We are only having a discussion not a contest.

        The CJN has reacted, let us wait for the NJC. And may be the the president.

  • vincentumenyiora

    LOOK ALL THESE FORWARD AND BACKWARDS moves and actions I said already study my solution for corruption in Nigeria and see what happens – what results you get! I said the UNO has asked me to re-submit my solution they considered compatible yet nobody in Nigeria is interested yet that is what they recon can help you people in the matter! You’ll call in your friends (Professors) and there too they seem not to comprehend what the solutions portend – everybody in office to become rich at the expense of the poor people and end of the day you don’t have good roads to drive your most expensive cars and you die in accidents – nothing gained in the stupid ambitions! Every day corruption, corruption and you provide solution to curb the scourge you don’t hear anymore from the authorities! They have my letter dated 4th June 2015 containing the corruption solution also and the Change your mind idea yet my letter is not replied to and you all talk about God/ Allah to help you! And He said to believers that;-

    Righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a reproach to any people! Prov. 14. 34; Pa 132.

  • vic


  • Salmon Omokanye

    It is mind boggling to have DSS making arrest of judges at night for suspicion of corruption. Abuse of power and lawlessness are brazen travesty of our democracy. No one believes Judges are sacred cows and any corrupt judge should be prosecuted. But the manner of “commando raid” and use of excessive force with impunity is perhaps only excusable in dealing with terrorists not unharmed judges suspected of corruption. Publicising how much money was found was also primitive witch hunt.

    • Sir Demo

      Will you keep your ranting to your circle? The glaring intellectual shallowness is very irritating

      • St-Kenny Mudiaga

        “Glaring intellectual shallowness” you say? Now, what part of your deep mind mandates the SSS (or dss as they like to call themselves) to investigate corruption?

        • Sir Demo

          Bribe taking to pervert justice particularly as relate to occupying political offices as high as state governorship is a subversion of political will of the voters and hence pose SSRIOUS risk to internal security. DSS did the right thing by arresting the crooks. FBI, MI5, etc do that routinely. The agency however can not prosecute.. They will handover the cas files to the EFCC becos our Police is worse than even the Looticiary

          • St-Kenny Mudiaga

            The fbi is a police force. People should stop comparing the FBI with Dss. If you want to compare, the US has it’s own SSS. And they certainly don’t go around doing police work. I’ve never heard of mi5 making such arrests. Perhaps you could give a specific instance.

          • Sir Demo

            The FBI combine the functions of the DSS or MI5 with that of a federal police! For organised crimes like these networks of Justice purchasers, it is the MI5 and not the Scotland Yard that will lead the sting operation.

          • St-Kenny Mudiaga

            This is what the Mi5 describes itself :

            The role of MI5, as defined in the Security Service Act 1989, is “the protection of national security and in particular its protection against threats such as terrorism, espionage and sabotage, the activities of agents of foreign powers, and from actions intended to overthrow or undermine parliamentary democracy by political, industrial or violent means”.

            You would have to stretch your imagination very wide to fit the said bribe by judges into those categories of threats.

          • Sir Demo

            Well done for the education. I have no doubt that taken collusions to install e.g a governor wrongly falls squarely under undermine democracy. My take is that we bring back state police and the DSS become an FBI organization.

  • Salmon Omokanye

    Buhari and APC should feel ashamed of the disgraceful action of DSS. He should speak up and bring sanity and integrity to Law enforcement agencies. The raid at night and brulalisation of judges diminished the credibility of Buhari government more than we are impressed about the fighting of corruption. The Director of DSS should resign at once.

    • Sir Demo

      In your dreams. How do you want the govt to treat the proven cases of justice for bribe established by the same NJC?

  • Sir Demo

    NJC is not empower by our laws to arrest or prosecute any judge. It is mndate stop with disciplinary actions for UNETHICAL actions, period! In this case, crimes have been committed and hence out of hand of NJC or whatever.

    Infact the CJN should be arrested for collusion to pervert cause of Justice in preventing these proven criminal judges interrogation since.

    • Mystic mallam

      You write like a great constitutional lawyer. Which university taught you law? Please recommend. If you can’t. do keep your pen dry when you have no idea what you’re talking about. believe me, it’s a good piece of advice.

      • Sir Demo

        Not UNIPORT or our law school that produces lawyers like Rikcy Tarfa, Mike Ozekhome, Wike, Akpabio, Odumakin, Adegboruwa etc. that school needs a curriculum overhaul.

        • Mystic mallam

          Most if not all schools in Nigeria need much more than curriculum overhaul. Which is why we import engineers,designers,architects etc from China. ..


    One is not surprised that the chief Priests at the temple of justice could soil their hands and robes this way. I am short of words but can only CRY for Nigeria my Country!

  • Gbazi Ayogba

    I ‘m not surprised at all by the comments of the Chief Judge of Nigeria. He has not demonstrated a very sound mind of a top jurist. His action is a clownish support for corruption and and no one living in a reasonable society will take the CJN serious.

  • meri

    The CJN spoke well, the DSS and Buhari were reckless,and obviously unintelligent at the task, the work of the DSS does not include investigation of corruption, our national security is still suffering, there’s something called due process,we r not running a dictatorship unless the President is now saying otherwise,He can’t be allowed to weaken and ridicule the judiciary ,the last resort of the common man, these judges should be investigated but from the right quarter.

  • Charles Efiong

    I am really sorry to hear the NBA President speak in the manner he has. He has suggested that urgent action be taken to restore confidence in the judiciary. There is therefore a presupposition which he recognises that confidence in the judiciary is dilapidated. The root cause of this is corruption. He suggests that the way to restore this confidence is for lawyers to come together in one voice to condemn the actions of the government in arresting the judges. I beg to disagree … the way to restoration is to weed out the corrupt elements in the judiciary. This is what the government is doing and all right thinking lawyers and Nigerians who desire a better Nigeria for posterity should support the government with one voice. Are we not tired as a people of suffering the draining effects of corruption? What kind of country do we want to bequeath to our children.