Nigerian Department of State Services (DSS) officers arrested seven judges between Friday night and Saturday morning. Nigerian Bar Association and some prominent members of the society criticised the arrests and demanded the release of the judges and called for prosecution of the judges by Attorney General under due process of the law. The judges will be charged in the courts from tomorrow.
President Muhammadu Buhari said that he has highest regards for institution of the judiciary and the arrests were not an assault on judiciary but on corruption. Nigeria has been steeped in corruption for decades. Buhari is not going to be able to rout out corruption. No one before him even tried it.
DSS assured that all due processes of the law, including the possession of search and arrest warrants were obtained before the searches and arrests. DSS said that it will continue to follow due process of the law.
Two Senior Advocates of Nigeria are standing trial in the Lagos high court for allegedly bribing a judge. But the judge concerned was not charged for allegedly receiving bribe.
DSS has been monitoring the expensive and luxurious lifestyle of some of the judges as well as complaints from the public over judgment obtained fraudulently and on the basis of amounts of bribe paid. DSS have uncovered hordes of currency nots, real estate worth several millions and documents affirming illegal acts by these judges.
Two Supreme Court justices, John Inyang Okoro and Sylvanus Ngwuta, were arrested in connection with the receipt of bribes from Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State. It was reported that Justice Ngwuta traveled to Qatar to receive bribes that he shared with Justice Okoro and other justices in order to help Mr. Wike to win a case at the Supreme Court regarding his disputed election. In 2015 gubernatorial election, Governor Wike obtained 1,029,102 votes, almost five times higher than the actual total number of voters accredited with card readers and Permanent Voter Cards which was 292, 878.
Justice Okoro is reported to be building seven houses simultaneously in Calabar with the help of former Governor Godswill Akpabio and his predecessor Udom Emmanuel in Akwa Ibom state. Justice Abdullahi Liman of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt is said to have received $2million from Ahmed Makarfi-led faction of the People’s Democratic Party to give a judgement that damaged the faction led by a former governor of Borno state, Ali Modu Sheriff. The bribe was to be shared between Liman and the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Auta.
Governor Wike showed up late at night to obstruct the arrest of a judge in Port Harcourt, with the aid of the State’s Police Commissioner. The commotion that ensued created a tense atmosphere between the Governor and security operatives who went to arrest the judge.