CJN: Two Weeks After Judges’ Arrest, DSS Not Communicated NJC

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*Says NJC will not shield corrupt judges

Tobi Soniyi in Abuja

Two weeks after some judges were arrested after their houses were raided by the operatives of the Department of State Security Service, DSS, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed has said that the secret police has not forwarded any communication to the National Judicial Council to enable it take a decision‎.

A statement issued on Saturday by the Senior Special Assistant to the CJN, Mr. H. S. Sa’eed, said the ongoing face-off was between DSS and
the NJC.

‎The CJN, acting under the powers provided by the 1999 Constitution and as the head of the third arm of government, called on all Nigerians to continue to have faith and full confidence in the
Nigerian judiciary.

The CJN said he was indeed deeply concerned by the rising antagonism over the recent arrest of judicial officers and other issues pertaining thereto.

The statement said: “It must be reiterated that the current misunderstanding is only between the National Judicial Council (NJC), which was established by the Constitution and the Directorate of the State Security (DSS), in the Presidency.

“Hence, we must emphasise that the Judiciary continues to maintain cordial relations with the other arms of government, that is, the Executive and the National Assembly.

“The Hon. CJN reiterates that the Nigerian Judiciary, as an Arm of the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is not a party in this matter, nor is the Nigerian Judiciary on trial.”

5. On the call by President of the Nigerian Bar, Abubakr Mahmoud, SAN, to suspend judicial officers whose residences were invaded and who were subsequently arrested and detained by the DSS, the CJN said he, “believes that the call was unnecessary and hasty as the said judicial officers are still being investigated by the DSS.”

The statement also added that, “Furthermore, the DSS is yet to forward any complaint or any official communication regarding the seven judicial officers to the NJC.”

The statement said that some of the affected judicial officers have already been investigated by the NJC, which found some culpable and recommended their removal from office by dismissal or retirement to the president and respective governors in line with the constitution.

“While some are still being investigated by the NJC, in respect of others, no complaint against them has been received by the NJC whose powers to suspend must be exercised in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution establishing it,” the statement
added.

The statement said that NJC was investigating various complaints against a number of judicial officers and that as soon as such investigations were completed, appropriate recommendations would be made as the case may be, to the President of Governors, who would have the final say on the fate of the affected judicial
officers.

The statement said that any judicial officer found wanting could then be charged for the offences disclosed from the facts against them and be prosecuted if necessary.

The statement said: “The Hon. Chief Justice of Nigeria also wishes to state in clear terms that the ‘sting’ operations carried out by the DSS on 07 and 08 October 2016 was certainly an assault on the independence of the Nigerian Judiciary.

“Nonetheless, the Judiciary fully supports the anti-corruption drive of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammdu Buhari, GCFR. The Nigerian Judiciary has never and will never shield any Judicial Officer who is found to be guilty of corruption, however, the Hon. CJN believes that due process and the rule of law must be followed.”