Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Mahmud Mohammed has described the arrest and raids on homes of some judges by Department of State Service, DSS as “saddening and deeply regrettable”
The CJN stated this at the valedictory session in honour of a retired Supreme Court Justice, Suleiman Galadima, in Abuja on Monday..
“It is indeed very saddened and deeply regrettable, the distressing and unfortunate incident which occurred on Friday 7 October and Saturday 8 October 2016.”
He urged Nigerians to remain calm, saying that an emergency meeting of the National Judicial Council, NJC, will take place today, during which the matter will be thoroughly looked into.
“However, I must appeal to all Nigerians to remain calm and prayerful, as an emergency meeting of the National Judicial Council (NJC) will take place tomorrow [today]to comprehensively look into the matter. I must express my sincere appreciation to the executive of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) ably led by the president, Abubakar Mahmoud, and indeed all members of the legal professions, for their prompt action and continued support,” he said.
Speaking at the event, NBA President Abubakar Mahmoud insisted that President Muhammadu Buhari should call the security agencies responsible for the arrest of the judges to order.
“We viewed these actions as illegal and unconstitutional and a threat to the independence of the judiciary and must be aimed at intimidating the judiciary and the legal profession. These military style operations are totally unacceptable in a democratic society. They are unacceptable against private citizens but even more against serving justices of superior courts.”
Mahmud said the NBA rejected the explanations and justification by the presidency that the operations were targeted at corruption and not the judiciary.
“We find it absurd that the presidency will accept assurances from DSS that it followed due process of the law. We maintain our position that these operations are illegal and unconstitutional. I want to reiterate that the position of the NBA is not aimed at protecting any judge. We are not also shielding any judges from investigation from charges of corruption,” he said.
Commenting on the divisions among lawyers over the arrests and raids of the judges’ houses in the middle of the night by masked armed men, he said:
“We do not accept it. This portends real danger to the Nigerian democracy. It is contrary to all civilised norms and accepted standards”
He advised the DSS to restrict itself to its constitutional and statutory duties as according to him, DSS core mandate is to guaranteeing internal national security.
“It is not its responsibility to conduct sting operations on judges for corruption or professional misconduct in the middle of the night,” he said