Eight more senior judges are under investigation and will soon be arrested by the Department of State Services (DSS) as part of its latest attempt to cleanse the judiciary of corruption, it was gathered yesterday.
Seven judges were earlier arrested in different states across the country between Friday night and Saturday morning over alleged corrupt practices.
A top official of the service said that the seven senior judges arrested were still in custody and would be arraigned in court any moment.
The judges in custody last night are: Inyang Okoro and Sylvester Ngwuta of the Supreme Court, Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court, Abuja, Kabir Auta of the Kano High Court, Mu’azu Pindiga of the Gombe High Court, Mohammed Tsamiya of the Court of Appeal, Ilorin and the Chief Judge of Enugu State Justice I. A. Umezulike.
The DSS said Saturday that it recovered over N93 million
and $530,000 cash from three arrested judges. The source said the judges were
allowed access to their families and were cooperating with the agency.
“We still respect them. They are not being treated like
common criminals,” he said.
As part of the investigations, three registry staff from
various courts were also invited for questioning, the source said.
He added that the corruption cases against the judges
were disturbing and investigations were carried out with “facts and figures.”
He said the current clampdown on the judicial officers
was based on intelligence, and not on the perception of ordinary Nigerians.
“We received petitions against these judges on cases they
are handling. The worst part of it is where they collected money. We knew the
issue would be controversial even before we started,” he said, adding that the
corruption in the judiciary was so enormous that some judges took money with
both hands from litigants.
“A particular judge entered a departmental store and
collected bribe from a go-between. He didn’t even bother to buy anything. He
just came out with the money. That is how bad it has become,” he said.
He said Nigeria had lost so much money due to the
compromising posture of most of the judges. Citing the corruption cases of
Halliburton, Malabu and Siemens, the security chief said: “In the past four
years, Nigeria lost multi-million dollars cases against foreigners because of
the corruption in the judiciary. Nigeria lost $1.9billion in one swoop case.”
He said those organizations criticizing the current
actions of the security outfit had the right to challenge its constitutionality
or otherwise in court.
He said the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) which earlier
condemned the DSS operation, “should have the courage to take us to court.”
He said the DSS intervened because it had the mandate to
protect the internal security of the country.
“No any other agency is constitutionality mandated to
handle the issues of subversion, sabotage and espionage apart from us,” he
The National Judicial Council (NJC) had earlier
recommended the sack of justices Auta, Tsamiya and Umezulike for alleged
corrupt activities. But the security chief said that was not enough, adding,
“The NJC gave soft landing to the three judges. What happened to the proceeds
of crime running into hundreds of millions?”