National chairman of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), Dr Fredrick Fasehun, on Wednesday, condemned the arrest of some judges by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS), over allegations of corruption.
Making a seven-point demand at a press conference on the matter in Lagos, Fasehun urged President Muhammadu Buihari to call the leadership of the organisation to order in the interest of democracy and rule of law.
Part of his demand was that the DSS, Police and the EFCC “must regain and maintain their statutory responsibilities of intelligence gathering and security maintenance instead of turning into instruments for silencing the opposition.”
Describing the DSS action as illegal and unconstitutional, Fasehun said it was “unthinkable that some voices are supporting the “brash display of impunity,” a trend, he claimed “makes us lament the passing on of Gani Fawehinimi, Alao-Aka Bashorun and Tunji Braithwaite.”
He added: “It smirks of a scripted and premeditated operation aimed specifically at intimidating the Judiciary and giving judicial officers a bad name in order to devalue their reputation.
“Moreover, the invasion represents an unjust clampdown on the Judiciary, a clear violation of the Rule of Law, Due Process and Commonsense, and it should never happen again.”
Fasehun, who claimed that Nigeria was fast-becoming a banana republic, emphasised: “In a democracy, the Judiciary is the most stable arm of government for obvious reasons. While the two other arms of the government, the Legislature and the Executive, have a ceiling on their tenure, the Judiciary is career-driven and enjoys tenure longevity.
“Those serving in the Judiciary are apolitical and the Judiciary is the last hope of the common man. This is why it is disheartening, heartrending and troubling that the Judiciary has been placed under this brazen assault and it forebodes danger for the nation’s democracy.”
Fasehun maintained that there was no ambiguity in the Nigerian Constitution on the principle of separation of powers among the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary.
“In the wisdom of our nation’s Constitution makers, the Constitution does not make the Executive the watchdog of the Judiciary. That responsibility, in Section 21 belongs to the National Judicial Council, mandated to make recommendations to the President and respective governors for the appointment, discipline and dismissal of Judges,” he said.
Fasehun demanded that government obey all court orders, including the Federal High Courts and ECOWAS Court rulings that ordered it to free former National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki (retired).On the war against corruption, he said that in as much as he and others recognised the harm that corruption had inflicted on the country’s development, he said relevant institutions and agencies must follow due process and the Rule of Law.
“The invasion of the homes of the Judges is a gross and blatant violation of Rule of Law, the Nigerian Constitution and commonsense. It is a resort to self-help that all civilised societies frown out.
“The DSS attack on the victims in the name of an anti-corruption war appears like a deliberate strategy to cow and make the Judiciary and judicial officers run under their beds.”