THE Federal Government may have concluded plans to prosecute the judges arrested by the Department of Security Service (DSS) for alleged corruption at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Nigerian Tribune has learnt.
The tribunal, a quasi-judicial body, is part of the Presidency.
The Senate has, however, amended the Act setting up the tribunal, wresting its control away from the Presidency.
The amendment will come into effect with either presidential assent or the National Assembly overriding the president’s veto.
Nigerian Tribune was privy to one of the arrested judges seeking to engage the services of a senior lawyer when the news was broken to him that the tribunal would now prosecute them.
It was learnt that the prosecution had reportedly decided to focus on the alleged multi-billion assets traced to the judges.
By taking them to the tribunal, the burden of proof would now shift to the judges, unlike the corruption allegations which would require the prosecution to prove.
Beyond ease of prosecution, it was gathered that the main consideration for moving away from the regular court was the likely procedural obstacle of the prosecution being asked by the trial judge to first get the National Judicial Council (NJC) to suspend the serving judges before returning for prosecution.
NJC is constitutionally charged to sanction erring judges and must be petitioned by the DSS before the affected judges could be placed on suspension.
All the affected judges, including the two belonging to the Supreme Court, had excused themselves from sitting on cases, except Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Nigerian Tribune was told that at the trial, the said judges would be asked to defend assets and huge cash allegedly linked to them, in relation to their earnings.
Their asset declaration contents would also likely be put against the cash and assets allegedly traced to them, to see if the latter were declared or not.