A group, Lawyers in Defence of
Democracy, yesterday protested in Abuja over the arrest of judges by the
Department of State Services (DSS) over three weeks ago.
In their protest letter, the
lawyers in partnership with Citizens for Good Governance [CGG] urged the United
Nations, United States, the United Kingdom, the National Human Rights
Commission (NHRC), Amnesty International and the international community to
call the Buhari administration to order and save the nation’s democracy from
drifting into anarchy.
The groups also called on the
National Judicial Council (NJC) and the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) to
direct all judges in the country not to hear any applications from the DSS and
other agencies, except bail applications, until there is obedience to all
pending orders against them.
The DSS had, between October 7 and
8, arrested Justices Sylvester Ngwuta and John Okoro of the Supreme Court;
Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court, Abuja, and Justice Muazu
Pindiga of the Federal High Court, Gombe Division.
Another Judge of the Abuja division
of the Federal High Court, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba’s residence was also searched,
but not arrested.
The aggrieved lawyers urged the
judges whose homes were invaded by the DSS not to step aside as doing so would
amount to victory for the secret service.
Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary
of NHRC, Prof. Ben Angwe, said the commission will not take side or orders in
handling the arrest and alleged clampdown of some judges over corruption.
The commission said it was waiting
for petitions from the public on the alleged arrest of the judges and violation
of their rights.
Addressing the protesters in his
office, Angwe said the petition by the group, will spur the NHRC into action,
adding that the commission will be fair to all parties.
A statement issued by the joint
Convener of the groups, Ikenga Ugochinyere, faulted the clampdown on judges,
noting that the independence and integrity of the Bench cannot be sacrificed
under the guise of anti- corruption crusade.
Meanwhile, Supreme Court spokesman,
Ahuraka Isah, yesterday confirmed reports that two Supreme Court justices
accused of corruption, have stopped sitting. They reported at Department of
State Services (DSS) office yesterday.
Justices Iyang Okoro and Sylvester
Nguta were among seven judges arrested by operatives of the DSS following
allegations of corruption.
Mr. Isah, who speaks for the Chief
Justice of Nigeria, Mahmud Mohammed, told our correspondent that the Supreme Court justices did not sit
“None of the judges whose houses
were raided and arrested by the DSS have been suspended by the NJC,” the
spokesperson said. “But the two affected Supreme Court justices voluntarily
excused themselves from all judicial functions since the raids occurred.”