The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmud Mohammed, is uncomfortable over weekend’s arrest of some judicial officers by men of the Department of State Services (DSS).
The CJN, at a valedictory court session held in honour of retiring Justice Suleiman Galadima of the Supreme Court, described the development as “saddening” and “unfortunate”.
“My Lords, invited guests, ladies and gentlemen, not to distract from this occasion, it is indeed very saddening and deeply regrettable, the distressing and unfortunate incident, which occurred on Friday, 7th October and Saturday 8th October, 2016.
“However, I must ask all Nigerians to remain calm and prayerful, as an emergency meeting of the National Judicial Council (NJC) that will take place tomorrow, will comprehensively look into the matter.
“Furthermore, I must express my sincere appreciation to the executive of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), ably led by the President, Abubakar B. Mahmud (SAN) and indeed, all members of the legal profession for their prompt action and continued support,” the CJN said.
He hailed Justice Galadima for his “numerous contributions” to the nation’s justice sector development.
Mahmud restated the NBA’s condemnation of the arrests of judges, arguing that it was an attempt to intimidate the Judiciary.
Mahmud faulted what he described as President Muhammadu Buhari’s attempt to justify the arrests.
“Perhaps it may not be out of place if I say a few words on the events that took place two days ago. The events are now quite known.
“Between the night of Friday October 7, operatives of the State Security Service, otherwise known as the DSS, conducted series of raids into the homes of judges of various courts across the country, including homes of two senior Justices of the Supreme Court.
“The justices were taken into custody after several hours of searches. On October 8, the DSS held a press conference to justify the searches.
“It described the operation, in quote: ‘series of sting operations on allegations of corruption and other acts of professional misconduct against few and suspected judges’.
“It also stated that its action was in line with its core mandate. That they have been monitoring the expensive and luxurious life style of judges.
“The NBA has already issued a statement condemning this action in the strongest possible terms. At the press conference which I addressed in Lagos on Saturday, I condemned the action of the DSS and demanded that President Buhari calls the security agencies responsible for this action to order.
“We deem these actions illegal and unconstitutional as it is against the independence of the Judiciary. It is aimed at intimidating the Judiciary and indeed the legal profession.
“This military style operations are totally unacceptable in a democratic society. It is unacceptable to private citizens and more so, Justices of the superior courts”.
”The NBA rejects this explanation and justification that this so called surgical operation is targeted at corruption and not the judiciary. We found it absurd that the President will accept assurances from the DSS.
“We maintain our position that these operations were illegal and unconstitutional. I want to reiterate that the position of the NBA is not aimed at protecting any Judge or to shield any Judge from investigation,” Mahmud said.
The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami (SAN), and the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) were not represented at the event. The Sun