The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), on Thursday, disclosed that there was no pending petition against any of the two Justices of the Supreme Court, who were last Saturday, arrested by the operatives of the Department of State Service (DSS) and reaffirmed its position that the arrests and detention of the judges was unlawful and unconstitutional.
The national president of the NBA, Abubakar Mahmoud, told newsmen in Abuja, that contrary to insinuations by members of the public that the NJC had declined to investigate allegations of corruption levelled against Justice Sylvester Ngwuta and Justice John Iyang Okoro, whose houses were raided by the DSS, at the weekend, in Abuja, there was no such evidence against the judicial officers.
The NBA boss, while giving insights into what the crisis management committee he had set up to monitor the unfolding situation of the arrest of the Judges, said: “We have engaged with the NJC and there was no evidence that was made available to us that suggests that the two Justices of the Supreme Court were ever invited or indeed there was any complaint by anybody against them.
“This is the information we got from the NJC and we have no reason to doubt it. Where there was no complaints made by the DSS itself or any other citizen, and then this sort of drastic measures were taken, we don’t see any justification for that,” Mahmoud declared.
Speaking on the allegation of lawyers colluding with Judges to perpetuate corruption in the Judiciary, the NBA president noted that the Bar had been in the vanguard of a clean and transparent Judiciary in the country.
“The impression being given that the Bar is tolerating corruption is not correct. Our members are at the forefront of the advocacy to fight corruption. We struggle to build a clean Judiciary for Nigeria,” he said.
Supported by a former President of the NBA, Mr Olisa Agbakoba, Mahmoud reiterated the association’s position on the mode of the DSS’ arrest of the Judges, saying that, “We quarrel at the method adopted in raiding the houses of judges in the middle of the night by armed masked men. These Judges are not terrorists and should not be subjected to that kind of treatment.”
He warned that the country’s judiciary should not be exposed to ridicule and disdain by security operatives under the guise of fighting corruption.
Mahmoud said the rule of law was compromised, in the way and manner the houses of the judges were invaded by the DSS operatives because under the constitution they have no power to dabble into economic matters as they did in the arrest.
According to him, under the constitution the DSS is empowered to look into issues of internal security and terrorism, adding that the judges were not terrorists as such the clamp down on them like terrorist was unlawful.