Judges' Arrest How rivalry between Ministry of Justice, EFCC, DSS led to controversial raid

The ministry reportedly bypassed the EFCC in the arrest of the judges because the agency was too slow in acting on petitions.

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EFCC Operatives play

EFCC Operatives

(punch)
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It has been revealed that the rivalry between the Ministry of Justice, the EFCC and the DSS led to the controversial raid and arrest of some alleged corrupt judges last weekend.

The Federal Ministry of Justice reportedly bypassed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which has the statutory mandate to investigate economic crimes, because it failed to act on previous petitions forwarded to it.

Some human rights groups were said to have forwarded petitions to the Federal Ministry of Justice when the EFCC failed to investigate and prosecute the judges.

According to Punch, based on this, the ministry decided to forward the petitions against the judges to the Department of State Service (DSS).

The EFCC and Ministry of Justice no longer have a friendly and collaborative relationship, it was learnt.

ALSO READ: ‘One Justice said he didn’t know how N18M entered his account,’ DSS says

It was gathered that the working relationship between the two government bodies strained due to  the inability of the EFCC to speedily investigate some of the cases forwarded to it by the ministry.

The newspaper cited a government source, who gave the example of a petition on the withdrawal of over N11 billion from the Rivers State Government’s account between October 2015, and February 2016.

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, had in March this year directed the anti-graft agency to investigate the withdrawal, which was described as suspicious.

"From all indications, because of the EFCC’s seeming inaction on some of these cases, the ministry of justice has now resorted to forwarding the petitions to the DSS.  Obviously the EFCC is not happy with this," the source was quoted to have said.

Report also said the EFCC is bitter about the weekend crackdown on some of the judges of the Supreme, Appeal and High courts across the country because the agency was already investigating them.

A top government source was quoted as saying: "The point of disagreement came from the investigation into the petitions. While the EFCC thought that the DSS should steer clear of the petitions because it had already worked on them, the service and the Federal Ministry of Justice insisted that the commission was slow in its investigations."

According to a source at the EFCC, but for the rivalry, the DSS should have carried the Commission along in the case of the alleged corrupt judges.

ALSO READ: Here are the search warrants DSS used in raiding homes of judges

The source said the EFCC believed that the DSS interrupted its ongoing investigations into the corruption allegations against the judges.

"It is a DSS operation. The EFCC is not involved. The raids carried out on the judges’ residents have affected our ongoing investigation into the activities of some of the judges," the source said.

"What this has done is that they have alerted those suspected judges. With what they have done, they have alerted them to be careful."

In what it called a sting operation, the DSS had last Friday and Saturday arrested Sylvester Ngwuta and Inyang Okoro, both of the Supreme Court;  the suspended Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, Ilorin Division, Justice Mohammed Tsamiya; Justice Kabiru Auta of the Kano State High Court and Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court, Abuja.

Others arrested were a former Chief Judge of Enugu State, Justice I. A. Umezulike, and Muazu Pindiga of the Federal High Court, Gombe Division.

Is the DSS' raid on the judges legal?»

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