Last week's raid on the homes of supposedly corrupt judges has continued to divide opinions throughout the country
Last weekend, DSS operatives stormed the homes of Supreme and High Court Justices, seizing illicit cash amounting to millions of Naira from them, according to a statement made available to the media by the law enforcement agency in the wake of the raids.
Among the Judges arrested were John Okoro and Sylvester Nguta of the Supreme Court, Namdi Dimgba and Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court, Abuja; Kabiru Auta, from Kano; Muazu Pindiga in Gombe, and a former Chief Judge of Enugu State, Innocent Umezulike.
Two more Judges were arrested mid-week, bringing the total haul of learned men billed to be charged to court by the DSS, to nine.
The Judges were granted bail on Monday, with their trial billed to commence immediately.
But word went out on Wednesday that the trial had been stalled, sparking speculations that the prosecution didn’t have an iron-cast case against the Judges.
There were also insinuations that stalling the trial was an indication that the case against the Judges was about to be bungled like most of the corruption cases levelled against politically exposed persons since the Muhammadu Buhari presidency took over the reins.
“That isn’t correct”, said the DSS personnel who also provided Pulse with arrest warrants used in raiding the homes of the Judges last weekend.
“The real reason why we have delayed the trial of the judges is that we want the National Judicial Council (NJC) to carry out its internal disciplinary procedures against the accused persons, dismiss them from the bench and then we’ll be prosecuting them as ordinary Nigerians and not members of the Judiciary”, added our DSS source.
The DSS personnel who craved anonymity for this story because he had not been authorized to publicly comment on the subject, also explained why dismissing the Judges accused of corruption, is a necessary first step.
“Imagine being tried by your junior in the profession. All the Judges who should handle these cases declined to do so, for the moment. They all went underground because they are scared of sitting in judgment over cases involving their superiors. As soon as we realized this, we knew the best course of action was to subtly impress it upon the NJC to do the right thing and stay action for now”, he explained.
The DSS source also availed Pulse with a letter indicating that the NJC has been shielding allegedly corrupt Judges in the past.
In a letter titled, RE: CORRUPT PRACTICES OF JUSTICE PINDIGA and addressed to DSS boss Lawal Musa Daura, the NJC wrote:
“Reference to your petition dated 26 February, 2016, to the Honourable President to the Court of Appeal and copied to the Honourable, the Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman of the National Judicial Council, Hon Justice Mahmud Mohammed, GCON, against Hon. M.A Pindiga of High Court of Justice, Gombe State on the above subject matter.
“I have been directed to inform you that your complaint has not complied with the extant Judicial Discipline Regulations 2014 of the council as it was not accompanied with a verifying affidavit deposed to by you before a Court of Record.
“In view of the foregoing, you may wish to comply please”.
The letter was signed by Danladi Halilu, Esq, OON, who is the secretary of the National Judicial Council and dated 19 April 2016.
The DSS has promised to bring more Judges accused of corruption, to justice.