The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, today, called on the Department of State Security, DSS, to immediately and unconditionally release the two Justices of the Supreme Court, whose homes were raided by DSS operatives in the early hours of Saturday, and later taken into custody.
The two apex court Justices are Justices Sylvester Ngwuta and Justice Okoro It will be recalled that armed masked DSS operatives also raided residence of judges of the Federal High Court in Abuja, Gomber and Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
It was gathered at each of the raids, family members were also harassed. NBA President, Mr Abubakar Mamoud, SAN, who addressed newsmen, today , in Lagos, alongside three past Presidents of the association, namely Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, Dr Olisa Agbakoba, SAN and Mr Joseph Daudu, SAN, on the arrest and detention of the two Justices of the Supreme Court and the invasion and harassment of judges of the Federal High Court in Abuja, Gomber and Port Harcourt, Rivers State, said “DSS has been carrying out raids in the houses of Justices of the Supreme Court and that of judges of the Federal High Court in Abuja, Gomber and Port Harcourt, Rivers State. “Some family members of the judges were manhandled. We gathered that the raids were carried out at 2a.m.
“We condemn the raids in the strongest possible terms. We are in a democratic society and we cannot accept a situation where armed masked DSS operatives invade the homes of the Justices the Supreme Court and judges of our high courts.
“This is a ploy by the executive to intimidate the judiciary and we will not accept it. The NBA will not accept it. “I want to emphasise again that we’re not under military rule and we cannot accept this Gestapo style of operations.
“First, the NBA demands the immediate and unconditional release of the Justices the Supreme Court still being held by the DSS without further delay. “The DSS should limit itself to its constitutional duties and responsibilities.
“We demand that President Muhammadu Buhari should call his security agencies to order as this kind of practice is not acceptable under a democratic rule. “It there are issues affecting judicial officers, there are established processes and procedures for handling them and we demand that these constitutional processes must be obeyed.
“I have declared a state of emergency on the legal profession over the matter and I have invited past Presidents and Secretary Generals of the association. “I have also set up a Crisis Committee team which shall consist of past Presidents and Secretary Generals of the association to follow up on the matter.”
Asked whether the association will immediately embark on court boycott over the arrest and detention of judicial officers by the executive arm of government, he said members should allow the leaders handle the matter, while awaiting any further directive as maybe necessary. He also discountenanced suggestions that there might be ethnic and religious colouration to the arrest, detention and harassment of the judicial officers.
“I have been in touch with the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, on phone over the development. We will go to any extent to ensure that the rule of law is followed in the way things are done in the country,” he added.
N270M FOUND IN HOSE OF JUDGE ..DSS
Meanwhile,the Department of State Service, DSS Saturday said it recovered over N270 Million from the residences of three judges following its simultaneous raids on Friday night of the residences of over seven justices of the Supreme, Federal and high courts across the country. A break down of the monies recovered from the residences of the unnamed three justices include N93,558,000; $530,087; £25,970 and €5,680.
Addressing a press conference at the DSS headquarters today to explained why it carried out the raids, an official of the service, Mallam Garba Abdullahi said it was aimed at restoring “sanity and sanctity to the esteemed third arm of government”.
According to Mallam Garba, a planned raid on the residence of a judge in Rivers where the service, he said, had intelligence that he had $2million in cash at home was frustrated by Governor Nyesom Wike who brought in thugs to prevent the service from carrying out its mission in connivance with an unnamed sister security agency.
He explained that the operations were based on allegations of corruptions and other acts of professional misconduct by the suspected justices. The DSS official further defended the action of the service saying it was in line with us core mandate, adding that the affected justice’s “expensive and luxurious” lifestyle was being monitored by the service for some time
BEGIN IMMEDIATE BOYCOTT OF COURTS…ADEGBORUWA TELLS LAWYERS
This is full blown dictatorship now in action. It is now a case of anarchists in power. The clampdown on judges has been on for a long time, through agents of government in the various institutions of oppression. We are now back to the 1984 jackboot system of intolerance, where all dissenting views and opinions must be silenced.
It is condemnable for the DSS, which is an arm of the executive, to be breathing down on the judicial arm of government, under the guise of fighting corruption. It is now clear without any shadow of doubt that the so called anti corruption war, is a hidden agenda to perpetuate the Gen Buhari regime in office beyond 2019. It is meant to silence the opposition and to cover the inefficiency and cluelessness of this administration.
The 1999 Constitution in sections 4, 5 and 6 prescribes the system of separation of powers between the three arms of government. But since 2015 when this government was sworn in, the executive arm under Gen Buhari has dominated and brutalized the other two arms of government. The leadership of the National Assembly is under trial and it is now the turn of the judiciary.
In a democracy, the rule of law prescribes the independence of the judiciary, whereby judges must be allowed the unfettered right of taking decision according to law and according to their consciences.
It is in this regard that the mindless invasion of the homes of judges by the DSS is totally condemnable. It should never happen that the executive is indirectly threatening and intimidating members of the third estate of the realm.
The judiciary is the arm that stabilizes democracy and should not be exposed to ridicule or opprobrium in the manner that the DSS is currently doing.
I believe that the hidden motive of all these is traceable to the power tussle between leaders of the ruling party and in the. Ominu days of lawlessness that will be unleashed by those who are in power, it has become necessary to capture the judiciary, to whom the victims of this power tussle will likely turn.
Any fight against corruption must be done under the rule of law and there is no law that authorizes the invasion of the home of a judge at an unholy hour of 1am. Being public officers, there is no way these judicial officers would have absconded or run away from normal arrest during the day, if need be.
This is the height of executive lawlessness and crass intolerance.
We do not advocate that those alleged to be corrupt should not face their due trial, bit that should be done in an atmosphere of dignity and respect for the fundamental rights of the suspects.
This is dangerous and condemnable since we are not under a military rule.
As judges have no voices to speak officially, I call on the Nigerian Bar Association to declare an indefinite strike so that all courts of law in Nigeria will be boycotted until there is respect for the rule of law and the Constitution, commencing from Monday, October 10, 2016, until further notice.