SENATE Yesterday ordered a comprehensive investigation into the controversial arrest of some judges last week by the Department of State Security, DSS. Adopting a motion to that effect by the chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, David Umaru, the Upper Legislative Chamber directed the committee to do whatever it could within its constitutional oversight powers to carry out the assignment. The Senate was also informed that the resolution taken by the National Judicial Council, NJC, on the matter had already been submitted to the committee and it would be part of the materials to be examined during the investigation. The decision to probe into the matter came just a week after the Senate had condemned the manner in which the judges were arrested. The investigation would involve the invitation of the six justices affected by the arrest, officials of the DSS who the committee may wish to invite to testify at a public hearing to be conducted during the probe. President of the Senate, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, while ruling on the motion, noted that the committee did not need any extra powers to conduct its investigation. You do not need to come to us, you have your powers under the oversight and you should be able to use the powers and do whatever you deem necessary. So do your job in line with your powers,” Saraki said. Presenting his motion earlier, Umaru said: “Mr. President by virtue of the 1999 Constitution as amended and order 96, Rule 37 of our rules, the powers of this committee to oversight the Judiciary and particularly its powers include judicial matters and Judges and Justices of the court. “I am bringing this to the attention of the Senate so that we can take the permission of this senate to enable us conduct proper oversight on this matter and invite the justices to enable us interact with them in order to conduct proper oversight as we are enjoined by the provision of our rules and the 1999 constitution,” he said. It would be recalled that operatives of the DSS on Saturday, October 8, 2016 arrested six justices and later alleged that it was based on petitions it received against those judges on alleged corrupt practices. The justices arrested include John Okoro and Sylvester Nguta of the Supreme Court and a former Chief Judge of Enugu State, Innocent Umezulike. Others are Namdi Dimgba and Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court, Abuja; Kabiru Auta, from Kano; Muazu Pindiga of Federal High Court in Gombe. Meanwhile, The National Judicial Council, NJC, had met on the matter and described the arrest of the judges as threat to democracy and a threat to the independence of the Judiciary. The NJC made its position known after its emergency meeting in Abuja, and insisted that the arrest was an attempt to humiliate, intimidate, denigrate and cow the Judiciary.

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