The Nigerian BarAssociation on Saturday declared a state of emergency in the judiciaryfollowing the midnight arrest of some judges by the Department of StateServices.
The declaration ofthe state of emergency was made on Saturday evening in Lagos by the NBAPresident, Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN).
Mahmoud addressed the press alongside four pastpresidents of the association – Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), Dr. Olisa Agbakoba(SAN); Mr. J.B. Daudu (SAN) and Augustine Alegeh (SAN).
Others in attendance at the declaration,which held at Eko Hotel, Victoria Island, were Prof. Kayinsola Ajayi (SAN), Mr.Yusuf Ali (SAN), Mr. Dele Adesina (SAN), among others.
Mahmoud said two Supreme Court justices,Inyang Okoro and Sylvester Ngwuta were “abducted”, with their families, addingthat he had yet to have the full detail of other judges who could have beeninvolved.
Mahmoud said the NBA condemned what it termedthe Gestapo-style operation of the DSS.
He announced the constitution of an emergency or crisis management team,comprising past NBA presidents to engage with the government.
Mahmoud, who said it was not theresponsibility of the DSS to arrest judges, described the DSS action as anunconstitutional means of intimidating the judiciary and undermining itsindependence.
The NBA President called on PresidentMuhammadu Buhari to order the immediate release of the arrested judges, vowingthat there would be consequences should the demand be ignored.
Mahmoud said, “I want to emphasise againthat we are not under military rule and we cannot accept this unholy event andGestapo-style operation.
“We, therefore, call on PresidentMuhammadu Buhari to immediately caution all the state security agencies and torespect the rule of law and to respect due process.
“Any issues affecting the judicialofficers, there are established procedures for handling them and we demand thatthis constitutional process must be obeyed.
“Given the unfolding nature of the eventand the seriousness of the situation, the NBA hereby declares a state ofemergency as it affects the affairs of the judiciary and I hereby constitute acrisis management team, comprising all past presidents of the association.
“I want to, on behalf of the association,make the very following clear and unequivocal demands: we demand the immediateand unconditional release of all the judges abducted from about 9pm yesterday(Friday).
“The release must be done immediately andwithout any conditions. Two, we demand that the Department of State Servicesshould limit itself to its statutory and constitutional responsibilities.
“I’ll be meeting with the CJN latertonight or tomorrow. There will be consequences should these demands are notmet.”