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NHRC plans to probe arrest of judges

By Bridget Chiedu Onochie, Azimazi Momoh Jimoh (Abuja) and Godwin Dunia (Lagos)
01 November 2016   |   4:17 am
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has said that it would soon commence full investigation into the arrest of some judges by the Department of State Services (DSS) to determine the alleged abuses of their human rights.
A cross section of members of Citizens for Good Governance and Lawyers in Defence of Democracy during a peaceful protest at the Federal High Court, Abuja, over the arrest and alleged intimidation on judges by the DSS in Abuja… yesterday. PHOTO: PHILIP OJISUA

A cross section of members of Citizens for Good Governance and Lawyers in Defence of Democracy during a peaceful protest at the Federal High Court, Abuja, over the arrest and alleged intimidation on judges by the DSS in Abuja… yesterday. PHOTO: PHILIP OJISUA

• Lawyers pass vote of confidence on NJC
• Ask U.S., UK, UN to call FG to order
• UNODC backs fight against corruption

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has said that it would soon commence full investigation into the arrest of some judges by the Department of State Services (DSS) to determine the alleged abuses of their human rights.

Executive Secretary of the commission, Prof. Ben Angwe, who stated this when he received some protesters under the umbrella of Lawyers in Defence of Democracy (LDD) in his office yesterday, said the NHRC would not take side or orders from anybody in conducting the investigation.

He said the commission did not commence any action on the issue in the past because there were nine petitions before it.

Angwe said the petition by the group would enable the commission move into action, adding that the NHRC would be fair to all parties.

The group, led by its convener, Ikenga Ogochinyere, said it had rejected the call for the stepping aside of the arrested judges.

It also demanded that the DSS and other agencies release from detention all Nigerians who have been granted bail by the courts and who have fulfilled their bail conditions, including compliance with all judgments and orders.

Besides, the LDD and Citizens for Good Governance (CGG) have passed a vote of confidence on the National Judicial Council (NJC) over the manner it handled the invasion of the houses of two Supreme Court justices and five others by the DSS.

The lawyers, who besieged the entrance to the Federal High Court, Abuja described as unconstitutional the way the judges were arrested, saying it was a threat to democracy.

They, therefore, appealed to the United Nations (UN), United Kingdom (UK), United States (U.S.) and Amnesty International to call the Federal Government to order.

The groups further accused the executive of plotting to overthrow the judiciary so as to enthrone abuse of human rights and subversion of the rule of law.

In another development, the country representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Cristina Albertin, has said for the fight against corruption to be successful, the judiciary must be seen as keen to dispense justice.

She also said the fight against corruption was a prerequisite for development, social justice and eradication of poverty.

“The integrity of investigators and prosecutors must be beyond reproach. The best law has no value if it is not enforced.

“The best judges and magistrates are wasted if the cases are never brought to them; or if cases brought to them are incomplete and/or inadmissible in evidence”, she said.