…..Set to quiz them
Fresh petitions bothering on alleged fraud, corruption and abuse of office on six judges have been forwarded to the Department of State Security Service, DSS, for necessary action.
Accordingly, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, has sent the new list to the Director General of DSS containing the names of the Justices with copies of petitions written against them.
Following this, operatives of the DSS will soon quiz the fresh batch of six judges.
A highly placed source at the Federal Ministry of Justice yesterday confirmed to Nigerian Pilot Sunday that the AGF last week precisely Tuesday handed over the names of the judges to the DSS.
The top official said as the federal government plans the arraignment of those quizzed recently within the week the security agency will also start fresh interrogations based on new petitions against the latter.
From the fresh list two names previously mentioned will also be drilled based on new petitions written against them.
They are the chief Judge of Federal High court, Justice Ibrahim NdahiAuta, Justice OkonAbang, Justice Abdul Kafarati, Justice AdeniyiAdemola, Justice ShuaibuLiman and the sacked Chief Judge of Enugu state, Justice I A Umezulike.
Though the National Judicial Council, NJC, had condemned the raid on some judges’ houses by the operatives of the DSS over the weekend and the subsequent arrest of the judicial officers, the chief law officer and attorney general of the federation has insisted no one, including judges are above the law.
A recent statement issued by the Acting Director, Information, Mr. SojiOye, the NJC described the treatment meted out to the arrested judicial officers as a threat to the independence of the judiciary.
The NJC, which last week nominated to President MuhammaduBuhari for appointment as the next Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, to succeed the outgoing CJN, Justice Mahmud Mohamed, who retires on attaining 70 years of age on November 10, 2016, described the development as “grave concern” about the events leading to the arrest of the judicial officers, a development which it described as an “attempt by the DSS to humiliate, intimidate, denigrate and cow the judiciary.”
The council denied shielding judges accused of corruption, while it debunked claims attributed to the DSS in both the print and electronic media that the council failed to act on the petitions sent against the judges.
The council said it only received two petitions from the DSS against Justice Pindiga, who had been cleared by it, and another one against Justice Dimgba, who was still being investigated while the raid on his home was carried out.
The NJC said the only pending petition against Justice Ademola was sent to the council by one Mr. Jenkins DuviegianeGwebe.
“Contrary to the claim by the DSS and as published in the electronic and print media, Council has never received any petition against the aforesaid Judicial Officers: Hon. Justices Ngwuta and Okoro of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, by the DSS,” the statement added.
It said with respect to Justice Tsamiya, “At its meeting which was held on 29th September, 2016, Council had found His Lordship culpable of professional misconduct contrary to Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the provisions of Section 292 of 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Accordingly, he was recommended to Mr. President for compulsory retirement from office following the petition written by one Mr.NnamdiIro Oji for demanding N200m bribe.
“It is to be stressed that from the evidence before the Council, Hon. Justice LadanTsamiya did not receive N200m bribe. The petitioner adduced evidence to support his allegation that Hon. Justice Tsamiya only demanded for the money.
“In the exercise of its power, Council had suspended Justice Tsamiya from office, pending when the President will act on the recommendation.”
The council also said, in the case of a former Chief Judge, Enugu State, Justice Umezulike, he had been recommended for compulsory retirement from office to Enugu State Governor “for gross misconduct, pursuant to the petition written against him by Mr. Peter Eze.”
It also said, Justice Auta was investigated by the Council “based on allegations of corrupt practices levelled against him in a petition forwarded to Council by one AlhajiKabiruYakassai.
“His Lordship was recommended to the Governor of Kano State for removal from office by dismissal.
“Council wrote separately to the AIG Kano Zone 1, for Police to prosecute Hon. Justice Auta.
“Council has suspended His Lordship from office pending when the Governor will act on its recommendation.”