- AGF snubs Supreme Court’s valedictory session
- NBA rejects Presidency’s justification, condemns DSS action
The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmud Mohammed, on Monday, called for calm over the last Friday’s unprecedented arrest of two Justices of the Supreme Court and other Judges of the Federal High Court by the Department of State Security (DSS).
The CJN, who broke his silence on this issue on Monday while speaking at the valedictory court session held in honour of a retired Supreme Court justice, Justice Suleiman Galadima, said, the action of the DSS was, “indeed very saddening and deeply regrettable, the distressing and unfortunate incident which occurred on Friday 7, October and Saturday 8 October, 2016.
“However, I must ask all Nigerians to remain calm and prayerful, as an emergency meeting of the National Judicial Council (NJC) will take place on tomorrow (Tuesday) to comprehensively look into the matter.
“I must express my sincere appreciation to the executive of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and indeed all members of the legal professions, for their prompt action and continued support,” Justice Mohammed stated.
Although it is traditional for the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and the Minister of Justice to deliver an address on such valedictory court session, the incumbent AGF, Abubakar Malami, (SAN) was conspicuously absent at yesterday’s event and he did not send a representative.
In his speech at the event, the NBA President, Abubakar Balarabe Mahmoud insisted that President Muhammadu Buhari should call the security agencies responsible for the arrest of the Justices of the apex court and the Judges of the lower court to order.
According to NBA boss: “We viewed these actions as illegal, unconstitutional and a threat to the independence of the judiciary and must be aimed at intimidating the judiciary and the legal profession.
“This military style operations are totally unacceptable in a democratic society. They are unacceptable against private citizens but even more sore against serving justices of superior courts.”
Mahmoud said the NBA rejects the explanations and justification given by the presidency that these so called surgical operations were targeted at corruption and not the judiciary.
“We find 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”, Mahmoud stated.
He also addressed the divisions among lawyers over the arrests and raids of the judges houses saying, “We are clear that raiding houses of justices of the Supreme Court in the middle of the night by masked armed men is the way to go. We do not accept it. This portends real danger to the Nigerian democracy. It is contrary to all civilised norms and accepted standards”, and called on DSS to restrict itself to its constitutional and statutory duties.
According to him, DSS core mandate is to guarantee internal national security, pointing out that, “It is not its duty to conduct police investigation or arraign and prosecute cases of corruption. It is not its responsibility to conduct sting operations on judges for corruption or professional misconduct in the middle of the night”.
The NBA boss called on the CJN to immediately take necessary and urgent steps to set in motion the process of cleansing the system, noting that urgent steps must be taken to restore confidence of the Nigerian people in the nation’s judiciary.
He called on lawyers to remain resolute and speak with on voice, adding, “this is not the time to be divided.”
Justice Suleiman Galadima, who bowed out of the nation’s judiciary, having attained the official retirement age of 70 years, in his valedictory speech, called on members of the Bench to be honest in the discharge of their duties.
He said, “Except you are honest, it will be impossible to discharge your duties well because part of it involves the use of personal discretion. In doing this, you must honestly and dispassionately weigh both sides of the pendulum before arriving at your decision”.
He lamented the way and manner the efforts of judges are always sacrificed on the alter of frivolous petitions and ceaseless allegations of bribery and corruption which he said, don’t stand the test of time.
“The harder you work to uplift the standard of justice, the harder detractors work to pull down the temple of justice. It is an irony too hard to countenance”, he said.