…It’s threat to democracy, NBA Insists
The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmud Mohammed, has appealed to Nigerians to be calm over last weekend’s arrest of some judges by DSS.
At the valedictory session in honour of a retired Supreme Court Justice, Justice Suleiman Galadima, in Abuja on Monday, he said he was saddened by the event.
“It is indeed very saddened and deeply regrettable, the distressing and unfortunate incident which occurred on Friday 7 October and Saturday 8 October 2016.
“However, I must appeal to all Nigerians to remain calm and prayerful, as an emergency meeting of the National Judicial Council (NJC) will take place tomorrow to comprehensively look into the matter”.
“I must express my sincere appreciation to the executive of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) ably led by the president, Abubakar Mahmoud, and indeed all members of the legal professions, for their prompt action and continued support,” he said.
He noted that the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) did not attend the valedictory session as usual.
Speaking at the event, NBA President insisted that 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.
“These military style operations are totally unacceptable in a democratic society. They are unacceptable against private citizens but even more against serving justices of superior courts”.
Mahmoud said the NBA rejects the explanations and justification by the presidency that these so called surgical operations were targeted at corruption and not the judiciary.
“We find it absurd that the presidency will accept assurances from 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 judges from investigation from charges of corruption”.
He also addressed the divisions among lawyers over the arrests and raids of the judges’ houses in the middle of the night by masked armed men.
“We do not accept it. This portends real danger to the Nigerian democracy. It is contrary to all civilised norms and accepted standards”.
He advised the DSS to restrict itself to its constitutional and statutory duties as according to him, DSS core mandate is to guaranteeing internal national security.
“It is not its duty 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,” he added.
“Urgent steps to restore confidence of the Nigerian people in the nation’s judiciary”.
The judges arrested and clamped into detention are Justice Inyang Okoro, Supreme Court, Sylvester Ngwuta , Supreme Court, Adeniyi Ademola, Federal High Court, Abuja and Kabir Auta, Kano High Court. Others are Muazu Pindiga, Gombe High Court, Mohammed Tsamiya, Court of Appeal, Ilorin, and, Chief Judge of Enugu State, I. A. Umezulike.