‘Buhari Gov’t Has No Plans To Suppress Press Freedom’ – Lai Mohammed

Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s minister of information and culture, has said that the federal government will not do anything to stifle press freedom, because it is keenly aware that a free press is vital to the success of any democracy. In an e-mailed statement to The Trent on Tuesday, January 24, 2017, signed by Segun Adeyemi, a media aide to the minister, Lai Mohammed said the federal government has nothing to do with the recent arrest of Mr. Dapo Olorunyomi, publisher of the online newspaper Premium Times, and a reporter working for the paper, Ms. Evelyn Okakwu. He said the whole issue of the journalists’ arrest is purely a private affair involving a citizen and a privately-owned newspaper, and wondered how that could now be construed as an attempt by the government to intimidate the press. “We have said it before and we want to restate it: The Federal Government has no immediate or long-term plan to stifle press freedom. Even the Social Media, with its warts and all, will neither be regulated nor have its operations tampered with,” Mr. Mohammed assured Nigerians. On Monday, the Nigerian Army issued a statement to clarify the conflict between the institution and Premium Times, an online newspaper. The statement signed by Brigadier General Sani Usman, the army’s spokesperson, and e-mailed to The Trent by e-mail on Monday, January 23, 2017 says that the Nigerian Army has not instituted legal action against the newspaper. The army also defended the legal action taken by its boss, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai saying that he is “a law-abiding citizen” who took “appropriate legal steps of seeking redress” for libelous publications against him by the news platform. The statement also hinted that the military establishment have grievances against the newspaper, which comes as a surprise to many because the media outlet is pro-Buhari and the ruling APC party. “The case between the Nigerian Army and the Premium Times of jeopardizing military operations, fraudulent obtaining and disclosure of military information that led to deaths and loss of equipment, is still in the offing,” General Usman wrote.

The post ‘Buhari Gov’t Has No Plans To Suppress Press Freedom’ – Lai Mohammed appeared first on The Trent.

#SoundOff: As Buhari Cooks His APC Supporters For Lunch, By Edward Oparaoji

group of journalists, writers and public figures – all of whom campaigned for the All Progressives Congress, APC and the former military dictator during the 2015 elections – has penned an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari over the harassment of journalists by security services. “They cited the two recent examples involving Omoyele Sowore, the publisher of SaharaReporters, who was detained last week, and Dapo Olunroyomi, the publisher of Premium Times, who was arrested and detained for hours on Thursday, January 19, 2017 by the police after a raid was carried out on the head office of his paper. “Both SaharaReporters and Premium Times are partisan and openly supported the APC and President Muhammadu Buhari during the 2015 campaigns and during his presidency. These papers have mostly turned a blind-eye to the human rights abuses and genocide of the Buhari regime and openly endorsed the violation of human rights of Nigerians by the brutal regime. At various times, they have served as mouthpieces for the Buhari regime and played a central role in the extrajudicial media trials of Nigerians under the Buhari dictatorship.” – Culled from The Trent, Press Freedom: Ezekwesili, Other Prominent APC Supporters Write PresidentBuhari And Open Letter. My Take: When did Buhari promise these APC campaigners that he respects freedom of speech? They knew General Buhari was an unqualified unrepentant dictator and they supported him anyway, out of hatred and jealousy for Goodluck Jonathan. Now, one of them has been arrested even though he is recovering from cancer, they are waking up to write ineffectual open letters. Did this same group condemn attacks on the press when Buhari attacked independent newspapers and journalists, especially early in the regime’s tenure? They need to give me a break. Premium Times and SaharaReporters rode on the back of the tiger to prominence – they were funded by the APC to take down Goodluck Jonathan and they’ll end up in his belly. Edward Oparaoji is a professor of pharmacy and chairman, Nigerian-American Leadership Council, a Washington DC Based think-tank. He is a member of the Editorial Board of The Trent, one of the most influential online newspapers in Nigeria. Connect with him on Facebook. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

The post #SoundOff: As Buhari Cooks His APC Supporters For Lunch, By Edward Oparaoji appeared first on The Trent.

How Buhari Regime Uses Political Terrorism Under Guise Of Anti-Corruption Fight [MUST READ]

It is no longer hidden that President Muhammadu Buhari and his co-travellers in the country’s current state of toxaemia have fully resorted to political terrorism and barbarism in their so called “anti corruption crusade”. Hiding under the guise of “anti corruption” to perpetrate heinous State crimes such as treason, State murder and other forms of official terrorism, had been a recurring decimal in Nigeria; dating back to January 1966, during Nigeria’s first military coup. Major Gen Muhammadu Buhari (as he then was), used the same excuse to oust the democratically elected Presidency of Shehu Shagari on December 31, 1983. Since then, successive military and civilian governments in Nigeria had laid claims to “fight against corruption” as the cornerstone of their administrations. The Obasanjo civilian administration of 1999-2007, was exceptionally noted to have gone extra mile in creating visible anti corruption agencies such as EFCC and ICPC, created between 2000 and 2004. His anti corruption policies were also relatively proactive, civil and rule of law compliant; whereas those of the past military and civilian administrations particularly that of the Buhari military regime (1984-85) were archaic, retrogressive and repressive. This is on repeat mission in the current Presidency of Muhammadu Buhari with worst yet to happen. In all these, Nigeria has ended up losing billions of dollars to its criminal political gangsters with over 90% of the looted funds ending up not recovered. The worst is that the more the host administration shouts “fight against corruption”, the more public funds are looted in its present and connivance with reckless abandon. Corrupt practices in Nigeria have not only gone e-gold or electronically undetected, but they have also been entrenched and clothed with impunity. As we speak, criminal enrichment in the country going viral with illicitly acquired properties springing up in leading Nigerian cities. A trip to Nigerian roads and security checkpoints is another eye opener and a fundamental measurement of President Buhari’s policy-noise on corruption. Extortion at military (including soldiers and navy) checkpoints is now scientific and artistic with civilian agents recruited as collection agents under negotiated percentage settlements. In Nigeria of present political composition, looters are endlessly looking for the looted with the looting going on rampage underneath or expressly. A president who is flown in a private jet, acquired with looted funds, is busy looking for the looters. Lawyers particularly the Silk, who illicitly charge roguish serving and former political office holders hundreds of millions of naira as consultancy and professional fees in high profile State graft or electoral cases, from illicit public funds, have joined “the fight against corruption”. Those who milked dry States like Rivers, Lagos and Edo and left them in quandary of indebtedness and penury are now “agents of anti corruption”; likewise print, visual and a number of pro establishment online media, acquired with looted public funds. Some mainstream CSOs and their leaders with juicy cuts from looted funds; propertied and motorized, are also “singers of anti corruption in Nigeria”. Today, in Nigeria of Buhari’s Presidency, political opponents and opponent activists and independent senior judicial officers are cajoled, threatened, repressed and labelled “looters” and treated like violent criminals. These respected citizens are routinely taken into custody before investigation with prima facie evidence thousands of miles away to be laid on against them. When in custody, torture becomes a routine to force them to admit committing non-existent crimes or offences. Where reverse is the case, they are held incommunicado for months with impunity and untried. Fighting corruption with “captains or doyens of corruption” leading the way or procuring the “government in power”, is akin to inviting a serial human parts dealer to come and become a defender of human rights in the human rights community. These explain the current State of bastardized and corrupted anti corruption policy direction of the Buhari Administration; where political terrorism and barbarism now hold sway. Having carefully studied the recent late night State violence by President Buhari’s DSS against some respected senior judicial officers and associated revelations by some of them including Hon Justices John Inyang Okoro and Sylvester Nwuta Nwali (serving Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria) as well as Hon Justices Adeniyi Ademola, Mu’azu Pindiga and Nnamdi Dimgba (serving Judges of the Federal and State High Court); we are, again, shocked and dismayed as what Nigeria has turned into in the past 17 months of Buhari’s Presidency. The roles of the print and visual media and a number of pro establishment online media are also very saddening; likewise the turn-coat position of the NBA. These quickly remind us of an immortal advice handed down to one Chris Ubah by Mr. Peter Obi (as he then was), who later became the Governor of Anambra State. The latter had advised the former to “guide his unguided utterances against judges handling the then Anambra State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal (September 2003 to August 2005) because it will take him 20 years to become a judge, that is if he so wishes and goes back to school to continue from where he dropped in junior secondary school” These explain our deep sadness over coordinated attacks and image damnation launched by the Buhari Administration against the named serving senior judicial officers, using its riotous DSS and compromised media. While we have no apologies for any serving senior judicial officer that corruptly enriches him/herself or that allows him/herself to be corrupted, provided he or she is processed, prosecuted and punished in accordance with due process and constitutionalism; we condemn in unequivocal terms the deliberate and coordinated ruination of innocent others who have toiled and laboured to build and protect their integrity by being contented and refusing to be corrupted or tainted. Launching campaigns of calumny and criminal stigmatization against a set of innocent serving senior judicial officers on account of their refusal to pervert the course of justice to impress the riotous agents of the Buhari Administration, is totally an irreparable damage, not only to the judges and their career but also to the collective image of Nigeria as a whole. This is more so when it is logically grounded that three out of every five Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Nigeria’s 774 LGAs may most likely not produce a Supreme Court Justice in twenty years, if not more than that. It is also tearful and heart-bleeding as how the conscience of the nation or democratic institutions in the country has turned over night into agents of darkness and layers of dictatorship and lawlessness. Rather than standing up at all times in defense of democracy and rule of law, reverse is now the case. To the extent that Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) (staunch defenders of the rule of law) now call for the suspension of rule of law in a democratic setting; likewise defense of illegalities by some, if not many of Nigeria’s foremost professors of criminology, constitutional and criminal laws as well as human rights activists, stomached by the Buhari Administration; Nigeria and its democracy are doomed. In all these, our questions to the Buhari Administration and its riotous DSS are: What is the difference between a mad man running amok with a sharp knife in a crowded market and a perceived sane man running behind and chasing him with another sharp knife in the same crowded market? Between two of them; who is insane and who is sane? We asked the above questions because it has become an entrenched routine for the Buhari Administration to bend rules and resort to short-cut, lawlessness, illegality and unconstitutionality in its governance approaches, particularly in its so called “anti corruption crusade”. Though President Muhammadu Buhari himself, seconds President Jacob Zuma of South Africa in the world ranking of the least educated Presidents, yet it is also an incontestable fact that his Administration parades an assemblage of leading scholars in law and criminology. The movers and shakers in Nigeria’s mainstream CSOs are also part and parcel of its Administration; yet the Administration has continued to behave or operate as an outlaw or a brigand political entity. For the purpose of putting the records straight and advocacy and technical enlightenment, crimes, as we have them today in the globe are divided into two major categories of “mala inse” (crimes with global application and acceptance such as murder, armed robbery, asportation, carjacking, aviation terrorism, rape, arson, burglary, etc) and “mala prohibita” (anti social conducts defined differently by different countries as crimes or otherwise, such as adultery, victimless crime (i.e. prostitution) and some categories of white-collar crimes). Further, “corruption” and most of its agents as a crime appear to fall under “mala inse” because of its global reprehension leading to the adoption of the United Nations’ Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) by the member-States of the United Nations including Nigeria in 2003. The UN Anti Corruption Convention entered into force on 14th of December 2005 with 176 signatories and 140 full State-Parties including Nigeria, which signed it on 3rd December 2003 and ratified same on 14th December 2004. “Corruption”, globally is a complex social, political and economic phenomenon which still battles with a uniformed global definition. It involves misconducts in public and private sectors for the purpose of illicitly obtaining material and non material gains or favors. To be punishable, corruption must pass through the process of codification in a written and known criminal law by a member-State of the UN. Corruption, on its own, cannot a constitute crime or an offense, except aided by its agents such as bribery, fraud, kickbacks, extortion, embezzlement, money laundering, obtaining by false pretence, etc. Corruption also belongs to the family of invisible crimes called “white-collar crimes”. “Invisible crimes” are so called because of difficulties in detecting them. Most importantly, they are nonviolent in nature (i.e. their perpetrators do not use physical violence in perpetrating them). They are very common in “white-collar” society or civil service or pen-culture society, dominated by government and corporate entities. The opposite of “white-collar crimes” are “blue-collar crimes” or “street crimes” (stealing, robbery, auto theft, burglary, youth crimes, abduction, arson, etc), usually common in “blue-collar society” or commercial areas or cash-economy. To Prof Edwin Sutherland (1949) of the Chicago Criminological School, “white-collar crime” is a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his or her occupation or office business. It arises from fraud, embezzlement, electronic or cyber crime, bribery, insider trading, kick-backs, contract inflation, over-invoicing, identity theft, forgery, money laundering etc. The concept of white-collar crimes was popularized by Prof Sutherland in 1949. Pieces of evidence required for an offense of corruption against any perpetrator substantially start from electronic and paper based evidence and end in same. Investigations associated with corrupt practices start from behind-the-scene (i.e. data mining with or without the knowledge of the suspect) and end with investigator-suspect interface (for clarifications and pre-prosecutorial fair hearing). Investigations into corrupt cases do not require late night invasion of homes and other dwelling houses as well as breaking into such homes with sledge hammers, acid substances, etc or corruption and abuse of search warrants (if any). The defence of retrieval of criminal proceeds is watery and impeachable; even if the movement of criminal proceeds was detected by secret police at ungodly hours, intelligence and policing surveillance methods remain the legally acceptable or permissible approaches until the godly hours return. Search warrants must not be executed unless the suspects are present and put on credible notice. Forcing suspects (i.e. Justices and Judges) to sign such warrants or purported inventories for items purportedly recovered, amount to armed robbery, burglary, torture, assault and threats to life and properties. Besides, corruption must be handled by the requisite anti graft agencies such as Police, EFCC and ICPC. DSS has no statutory or constitutional duties whatsoever in the law enforcement aspect of anti corruption crusade. If for any reason, it has intelligence, it should be exchanged or passed to anti corruption agencies like EFCC, Police and ICPC. It is therefore, in recognition of hefty challenges and difficulties associated with detection and punishment of crime of corruption that the United Nations strongly recommended “Prevention” as the most effective approach at curbing it. The UN, through its Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), specifically allocated 60% to Prevention, 20% to Prosecution/Punishment and 20% to international cooperation, technical cooperation and information exchange among Member-States. According to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), corruption can be prosecuted after the fact, but first and foremost, it requires prevention. An entire chapter of the Convention is dedicated to prevention, with measures directed at both the public and private sectors. These include model preventive policies, such as the establishment of anticorruption bodies and enhanced transparency in the financing of election campaigns and political parties. States must endeavour to ensure that their public services are subject to safeguards that promote efficiency, transparency and recruitment based on merit. Once recruited, public servants should be subject to codes of conduct, requirements for financial and other disclosures, and appropriate disciplinary measures. Transparency and accountability in matters of public finance must also be promoted, and specific requirements are established for the prevention of corruption, in the particularly critical areas of the public sector, such as the judiciary and public procurement. Those who use public services must expect a high standard of conduct from their public servants. Preventing public corruption also requires an effort from all members of society at large. For these reasons, the Convention calls on countries to promote actively the involvement of non-governmental and community-based organizations, as well as other elements of civil society, and to raise public awareness of corruption and what can be done about it. Article 5 of the Convention enjoins each State Party to establish and promote effective practices aimed at the prevention of corruption. The UNCAC also recommended domestic criminalization of agents of corruption in line with international best practices as well as strict adherence to rule of law and human rights in tackling the perpetrators. Tackling corruption can only be meaningful and result-oriented if Government or Political Corruption is curbed or tamed drastically. By Government or Political Corruption, it simply means when a public office holder or other government employees act reprehensively in an official capacity for personal or material gain. It is also official misuse of powers or public resources for personal gain. Others amounting to encouragement of corruption and abuse of office are: Patronage: Undue favors given to supporters of government officials. Nepotism/Cronyism: Illegitimate act of favoring relatives and personal friends of government officials as well as shielding them from investigation. Apart from the fact that there are 22 or more anti graft agencies and criminal enactments in Nigeria, which include the EFCC Act (2004), the ICPC Act (2000), the Money Laundering Prohibition Act of 2004, the Advance Fee Fraud & Other Related Offenses Act (1995), the Failed Banks (Recovery of Debts) & Other Financial Malpractices in Banks Act (1994), the Banks & Other Financial Institutions Act of 1991; and Miscellaneous Offenses Act, the Corrupt Proceeds & Properties’ Forfeiture Act of 1999, and the Criminal and the Penal Codes of 2004 and the ACJA 2015; corruption and abuse of office are also constitutionally prohibited in Nigeria in Section 15 (5) of the 1999 Constitution. Section 15 (5) of the Constitution provides as follows: “the State shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of office”. In fighting corruption in Nigeria, the rule of law and constitutionalism must remain its benchmark at all times. Turning fight against corruption into instruments for political vendetta, terrorism and brigandage is democratically dicey and disastrous. The agencies in charge of investigation and prosecution of corruption cases in Nigeria including the Buhari Administration are constitutionally restrained from stigmatizing and criminalizing those under investigation or using corruption as a cover to unleash State terror, falsehood and propaganda against them. Till date, offense of corruption in Nigeria is not a capital offense, but substantially misdemeanour; easily investigative and triable; substantially requiring paper and electronic evidence; once detected. Corruption also belongs to the family of nonviolent crimes; just like victimless crimes (i.e. alcoholism and commercial sex habits). While Section 35 of the 1999 Constitution guarantees the citizens’ right to personal liberty, subsections (8) and (12) of Section 36 forbid the Buhari Administration from subjecting the citizens to trial-by-ordeal or jungle justice and guarantee the citizens’ rights to fair hearing and presumption of innocence unless found guilty by courts of competent jurisdiction. The citizens’ right to privacy is also protected by Section 37 of the Constitution. The Presidency of Buhari is also guilty of favouritism and nepotism, which belongs to family of corruption and amounts to corruption and abuse of office, contrary to Section 15 (5) of the 1999 Constitution. Till date, despite the seriousness of allegations made against Mr. Rotimi Amaechi by two respected Justices of the Supreme Court in their recent letters to the CJN, concerning the late night invasion of their homes by the DSS, which raises a serious image and credibility challenge to the Administration’s so called “fight against corruption”, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, who is a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; has neither been invited nor under any form of criminal investigation by the DSS or Police or EFCC or ICPC. We call on the affected serving senior Judicial Officers particularly Hon Justices Sylvester Ngwuta Nwali, John Inyang Okoro, Nnamdi Dimgba, Adeniyi Ademola and Mu’azu Pindiga to use all means constitutionally available to clear their names and seek remedial and compensatory justice against the named riotous agents of the Buhari Administration. With the exception of those judges indicted and sanctioned by the NJC, the judges above named and others singled out for further intimidation, must stand firm at all times and refuse to be intimidated. The courage and sagacity of the named respected serving senior Judicial Officers are totally commendable. We rise in strong solidarity with the Nigerian Judiciary to save the rule of law from brink and executive bastardization. The Buhari Administration is, therefore, called upon to retrieve from the DSS files containing its so called “ongoing investigation of the judges” and transfer them to the office of the Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID) and its fraud unit. Any would-be outcome of the so called DSS probe is already dead, biased, corrupted and malicious on arrival. The Buhari Administration must also sack Hon Rotimi Amaechi as a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in charge of Ministry of Transportation so as to pave way for his criminal investigation on account of strong allegations against him bordering on corruption and electoral fraud as contained in the letters of Hon Justices Sylvester Ngwuta Nwali and John Inyang Okoro (serving Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria), to the CJN; which are now in the public domain. This is because Their Lordships are incapable of making such weighty allegations without knowing their accompanying consequences; if untrue. Signed: Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety) Mobile Line: +2348174090052  Obianuju Igboeli, Esq. Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Program Mobile Line: +2348180771506 Email: [email protected] Website: www.intersociety-ng.org

The post How Buhari Regime Uses Political Terrorism Under Guise Of Anti-Corruption Fight [MUST READ] appeared first on The Trent.

How Judiciary Exposed The Real Face Of Buhari’s Anti-Corruption War [MUST READ]

I have just finished reading the press statement by the National Judicial Council, NJC, as published by all the media platforms, including The Trent. There is absolutely no surprise in the revelations concerning how the critical organs of the Muhammadu Buhari-led government have been operating in persistent vengefulness, falsehood, tribalism, nepotism and lawlessness. This is vintage Buhari and lies! From the NJC’s press statement, it is clear that almost all the judges arrested by the DSS were either not petitioned against at all as falsely claimed by the DSS or had been exonerated by the lack of any evidence presented by the DSS. The DSS actually ignored the judges who were investigated, found culpable and recommended by the NJC to government for punitive action, but, instead, went after innocent judges — who had been investigated and exonerated! This is characteristic of the hypocrisy of President Buhari, the APC, their supporters and apologists — mouthing half-digested rhetoric on corruption while actually condoning and perpetrating egregious acts of corruption in pursuit of vendetta! Here is an easy-to-read summary of the NJC’s findings: ARRESTED BY THE DSS i. Justice Sylvester Ngwuta ii. Justice Inyang Okoro According to the NJC, there was no petition at all by the DSS against the above judges. They were not under any investigation because of that. NOT PETITIONED/ARRESTED BY DSS iii. Justice Muhammad L. Tsamiya The above judge was suspended from office by the NJC and recommended for compulsory retirement after investigations found him guilty of demanding, but not receiving, a bribe of N200 million from one Nnamdi Iro Oji. President Buhari approved the recommendation. Note that it was the NJC, not the DSS, which initiated this disciplinary process. NOT PETITIONED/ARRESTED BY THE DSS iv. Justice I. A. Umezulike(Chief Judge of Enugu State) This Enugu State Chief Judge was found culpable of gross misconduct from a petition against him to the NJC by one Peter Eze. He was suspended by the NJC and recommended to the Enugu State Governor for compulsory retirement. The Governor has not yet taken action. NOT PETITIONED/ARRESTED BY THE DSS v. Justice A. F. A. Ademola This judge was petitioned against to the NJC by one Hon Jenkins Gwebe on allegations of corruption. Those allegations are currently being investigated by the NJC. NOT PETITIONED/ARRESTED BY THE DSS vi. Justice Kabiru Auta This judge was investigated for corruption by the NJC on allegations by one Kabiru Yakassai, and found guilty. He was suspended, and recommended to the State Governor for sack, and the police AIG for prosecution. NOT ARRESTED BY THE DSS vii. Justice Muazu Pindiga This judge was petitioned by the DSS on allegations of corrupt enrichment without any supporting affidavit as required by law. Note that this is the judge who accused the APC of trying to influence the judgement against Wike after he was replaced in the Rivers State gubernatorial election tribunal. The NJC asked the DSS to support their petition with an affidavit, and they later did so. But after thorough investigations INVOLVING BOTH REPRESENTATIVES OF THE DSS AND THE JUDGE, he was found NOT GUILTY because the DSS could NOT substantiate ANY of its claims. Note that Pindiga was not arrested by the DSS. Thus, it was indeed Daura’s DSS which tried to corrupt this fearless judge, but he resisted it. ARRESTED BY DSS viii. Justice Nnamdi Dimgba This judge was petitioned against by the DSS on the 5th of August, 2016, and on the 29th of September, 2016, the NJC set up a panel to investigate the allegations and the panel had started work but the Government of Muhammadu Buhari could not wait for the panel to submit its findings before they invaded his residence and arrested him. CONCLUSION i. The DSS and the Government of President Buhari ACTUALLY MOVED AGAINST ONLY THE JUDGES IT DID NOT PETITION AGAINST OR THOSE WHO WERE FOUND NOT GUILTY AFTER INVESTIGATIONS. The DSS actually ignored the real corrupt judges who had been recommended for punishment after investigations by the NJC. ii. In other words, Buhari’s DSS INVADED AND ARRESTED ONLY THE JUDGES IT PERCEIVED WERE AGAINST THE ALL PROGRESSIVES CONGRESS(APC), BUT WHO WERE NOT, BASED ON INVESTIGATIONS, GUILTY OF ANY CORRUPTION. iii. President Buhari’s DSS is NOT AT ALL INTERESTED IN ANY FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION BY JUDGES AGAINST ORDINARY NIGERIANS, AS WE SEE IN THE ABOVE CASES INVESTIGATED BY THE NATIONAL JUDICIAL COUNCIL. RATHER, THE DSS IS ONLY AFTER THOSE WHO DELIVER JUDGEMENTS AGAINST PERCEIVED ‘APC INTERESTS’. President Buhari and the APC are completely unhinged. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, I PRESENT TO YOU NIGERIA’S BRAND OF ANTI-CORRUPTION WAR! Garvey Ufot, Ph.D., teaches at the Department of English, University of Uyo. He is a conscientious academic and conscious Rastafarian who seeks only the truth at all times. His mission is to educate Nigerians and expose fraud and deception in all levels of government. Connect with him on Facebook. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

The post How Judiciary Exposed The Real Face Of Buhari’s Anti-Corruption War [MUST READ] appeared first on The Trent.

Crackdown On Judges: Why I Will Not Run With The Cheering Crowd 

ations are built by leaders but nations can be destroyed by leaders. For leaders to build or destroy a nation, they will have the tacit support of a critical segment of society. History is replete with leaders who build their nations and also leaders who destroyed their nations. As citizens of our great country, it is within our control to support our leaders to either build Nigeria or destroy our nation. The choice is ours. Nigeria is under a democratic leadership, the type that requires a president to belong to a political party. In one party systems issues are less complex but in a multi-party system like ours, leadership becomes more complicated, especially as members of a ruling party do not see anything wrong with the government. Whatever the government does is right. The common parlance is “It is our government”. Is the president, or indeed, the government always right? The answer is no, but the government must be supported at all cost because “it is our government”. There is no doubt that Nigeria is reeling under the burden of “it is our government” mentality. Dictators that have destroyed their nations always start with subtle intrigues. They take one step after the other, trampling on the rights of citizens. At the beginning, they are usually supported by the people because beautiful reasons are always advanced. With time, they grow out of proportion and become a problem to the society, consuming even those that support them. Following the State Secret Service, SSS or DSS, arrest of senior judicial officers, a number of people have appeared on television to justify the arrest. Although some of them are experienced lawyers, their discussion of the issue has been so absurd. They even deliberately change the narrative. Even those who present TV programmes have been recruited to change the narrative. They generate lead questions to discussants and sometimes even suggest suitable words for them. They have all joined in the bizarre newspaper trials of Nigerians. As far as they are concerned, the Judges are corrupt Q.E.D. The SSS are the investigators, prosecutors, and have also delivered the judgement. I listened to some members of the federal government’s committee on corruption and I was extremely sad. I was saddened not because of what they said, after all they are working for the government; but because some of them are about 70-years-old, professors, and senior advocates of Nigeria, SAN. One expects that they will look the president eyeball to eyeball and tell him to start the corruption war with some of his ministers and Senior Aides that have had reports and serious allegations made against them. A Judicial Commission of Inquiry has indicted Amaechi, the former governor of Rivers State and present minister of transportation. There is the issue of MTN bribing allegation hanging on the neck of a top officer of Government working in the State House. There are also reports of N250m used to clear grass in IDP Camps when the IDPs have no food to eat. These and many other issues are in the air but a member of the committee proudly told Nigerians on an AIT morning programme on Wednesday, October 12, 2016 that until two judges are sentenced for corruption, Nigerians will not take the government serious. If such senior citizens cannot tell Mr. President that until he clears his house, Nigerians cannot take his anti-corruption war serious then they should resign. Are they there because of the allowances or they are on that committee to help reduce corruption in Nigeria? This government has cleared a chief of army staff who owns properties in Nigeria and Dubai, claiming that they were procured from savings and sales from a snake farm but a Supreme Court Justice is under arrest for possessing €5,600 in his house? An online newspaper mentioned properties owned by one minister in Abuja and the US, but there was no query for the minister who just left government. Charity begins at home. The corruption war must also start at home. No one is saying judges enjoy immunity. Nigerians know that the constitution provides immunity for only holders of four offices in the land – the president, vice president, governors, and deputy governors. If a judge while travelling out of this country is caught with hard drugs, surely the NDLEA will arrest him. They will not need the permission of the NJC to arrest him. Judges know that they will subject themselves to searches at the airports. Also while coming back to the country if a judge is found with contraband goods, the customs service will apprehend him. If a judge wakes up and uses a stick to club his house help to death, surely he will be arrested by the police without any kind of clearance from the NJC. What Nigerians are against is the circumstances and manner of the arrest and the nature of cases these judges have been presiding over before their arrest. It is extremely embarrassing and ridiculous for Abdullahi Garba, a director in the SSS who spoke to the nation to describe the incident as a “sting operation”. Is the SSS trying to deceive Nigerians or calling us illiterates? Or could it be that the director of the SSS does not know what to classify as “sting operation”? In law enforcement, a sting operation is a deceptive but carefully researched operation designed to catch a person committing a crime. Generally, a law enforcement officer or co-operative member of the public play a role as a criminal partner or potential victim and go along with a suspect’s wrongdoing. A common example is the issue of marked money. One gets worried when journalists and lawyers also continue to describe it as a “sting operation”. It is like Adolf Hitler’s belief that when you say a lie one thousand times it becomes the truth. No matter how the DSS describes their operation, there are basic questions they must answer for the citizens of this country to understand the motive behind the operation. Those hired to speak for them and the believers of “it is our government” must also provide the answers. The issues include: 1. Why was it better to arrest them in the night between 9pm and 4am? 2. Why must all the Judges and Justices be arrested on the same day across the country? 3. Why did the SSS mention the total amount recovered from the judges but refused to mention how much was found with individual Judges? 4. In Port-Harcourt, the SSS knew the total amount of money the judge had even when they did not gain access into his house. 5. Why were the arrests effected on a Friday night? 6. Can the SSS tell us that all the judges that have been giving favourable judgements to the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, are not corrupt? This government should know that not all Nigerians suffer from amnesia or are oblivious of what is happening around us. There are so many questions begging for answers in this saga. The SSS claimed it was a sting operation, that means they knew the movement of the judges. Why arrest them at such ungodly hour? Whether there is an allegation of corruption against them or not, these people live in their homes. They are not armed robbers who hide or move from one brothel to another. Whether judges or ordinary citizens, is it right to arrest them at such ungodly hour? In all civilised nations this kind of treatment is given only to suspected armed robbers, drug cartels and bandits not to ordinary people who live in their houses. Anyone who justifies this act by the SSS is manifestly justifying a civil and social wrong. This is a nation that criminals wearing uniforms of security personnel have been raiding people in the night claiming to be government officers sent to search houses alleged to have drugs. Through that process foreigners and Nigerians have been robbed. If the SSS will also operate at that time how will people tell the difference between criminals and law enforcement agents. In addition, going by the claims of the SSS, one is left with the impression that in Port Harcourt, an insider must have informed them that $2 million was taken to the house of the Judge. Since the SSS carried out the raids across the country simultaneously, did they also get similar information as regards the other judges? The SSS also insinuated that one of the judges was caught by the CCTV in a supermarket collecting bribe. Was the bribe collected that same day of the raid? And if the SSS has evidence as clear as a judge caught on camera why not approach the NJC? The SSS proudly announced to Nigerians how they recovered €5,600 from a justice. Is that reasonable? Anyone who undergoes several oversea trips will have some foreign currencies in his house. These judges travel abroad during their vacations and they attend various meetings and conferences abroad. Some have children working abroad and doing well, so what is €5,600! A friend told me that he was on a British Airways flight in which three children of a top SSS operative travelled first class. What is the cost of a first class BA ticket and how much will each child carry as travel allowance? This same person is definitely one of those in the SSS who authorised the arrest of a judge for having €5,600 in his residence with his wife and other grown-ups. If some people cannot see this as an intimidation gravitating towards dictatorship, then they should go and read the history of dictators. The report of the commission of inquiry into the violation of Human Rights in Uganda from October 9, 1962 to January 25, 1986 under Idi Amin is an interesting document to start with. There is even an interesting coincidence, in that the chief justice of Uganda, Hon. Justice Kiwanuka was kidnapped and killed . I believe one day, one government will also set up a commission of inquiry into the Human Rights abuses from May 29, 1999 to a date in the future. That is why those in power must know that they may have a date with history. Some people continue to justify the way these judges were brutalised because of allegation of corruption against them. I beg to disagree. The SSS does not need to break down the walls of a house in the night to arrest any citizen. I will be very surprised if the government under-rates the impact of this arrest on the image of this country and the attendant effect on the economy. No one wants to live or invest in a country where if armed robbers do not break into your home at night, law enforcement operatives will break your walls and arrest you as if you are a bandit or drug lord. Even if we are under the spell of “it is our government”, we should try to help our leaders build a Nation we will all be proud of. The three arms of government must complement each other for our Nation to develop. Unfortunately, the National Assembly is not up to the task. Aristotle believed that man is a political animal so I am not expecting a man to be politically inert irrespective of the office he holds but it is only in Nigeria that a card carrying member of a political party will be appointed to head a sensitive and serious intelligence service such as the DSS. When that appointment was made, some Nigerians expected members of the National Assembly to react but they kept mute. The DSS operatives have been breaking into houses across the country at will. In most cases, nothing was found in these houses yet they leave behind a myriad of broken suitcases, boxes, cabinets, any door and anything locked by the homeowners. Is this the way the DSS should operate? By law, the Senate screens the prospective holders of some offices but even for offices not expressly provided by law, the National Assembly can raise issues if the President appoints someone that is not competent or not expected to hold the office. Unfortunately, the Nigerian Senate is under the spell of “it is our government”. People have been appointed to hold offices that required Senate screening but assume such offices before names are sent to the Senate and nothing happens. In a normal society, if there is a vacancy, someone within the organisation acts pending parliamentary clearance. We have a minister in the federal cabinet who does not possess the “ordinary level” qualification, the minimum academic requirement to be a minister of the Federal Republic but the Senate cleared the individual without due diligence to be a minister. It is only the Nigerian Senate that can permit this kind of appointment. When one wrong step is taken and it is allowed, it gives room for the second, third wrong steps to be taken then one is directly encouraging dictatorship that will consume us as a nation in the long run. People have been complaining that the SSS and the EFCC are operating as departments of the ruling party. The Federal High Court and Supreme Court justices and judges houses have been invaded by the SSS at night and the walls and doors broken to arrest them and some people are saying that it is acceptable and good. For these people, I am praying that one day in their lives these agencies should break into their homes at 1am to arrest them or a relation staying with them on the suspicion of stolen money or some other crime. In all that we do, we must follow our laws and due process. A nation that does not follow her laws will not develop and will not be respected among the committee of nations. In Nigeria today, if you are a politician, irrespective of your atrocities as long as you cross over to the APC you become a saint. Let be clear that I abhor corruption in the judiciary because what is being sold is justice.We must kick bribe takers out of our justice system through due process of law. Yinka Odumakin is a political activist and national publicity secretary of Pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afrenifere. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

The post Crackdown On Judges: Why I Will Not Run With The Cheering Crowd  appeared first on The Trent.

As Expected, Presidency Backs DSS’s Unconstitutional Action Against Judges

An internal legal review ‎undertaken by the presidency on the raid of judges’ residences and their arrests by the State Security Services (SSS, also known as DSS, the acronym for the mailing address of the secret police), has concluded that the SSS acted in accordance with the extant laws and legal provisions, ThisDay reports. A report from the presidency, according its officials, concluded that the DSS had policing powers of its own. According to the report, a top official in the presidency disclosed that‎ the legal review considered every aspect of law involved in the raids and arrests, including a review of the new Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) procedures, issuance of search warrants, and the role and place of the National Judicial Council (NJC), among others. In its conclusion, the report, the Presidency, affirmed that “the actions of the DSS in the arrest and search of the premises of judges and justices can be placed firmly within the ambit of the law, sentimental and emotional considerations notwithstanding”. The presidential legal review added that it was “pertinent to note that Nigeria is not the first country to investigate and prosecute judges that are suspected to have committed acts of crime”. A presidency source cited the example of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the United States of America – a body similar to the DSS – which has at various times, prominently in January 2013, May 2014 and November 2015, arrested a number of judges for bribery, corruption and other similar offences; subjected the judges to trial, at the end of which the convicted judges were imprisoned. The source also cited Ghana and Kenya where judges suspected to have engaged in corruption were prosecuted. He also disputed a claim by one of the judges (Justice Adeniyi A. Ademola) that he was forced to sign a confessional statement at gunpoint, saying: “What really happened was that the judge was not arrested until his lawyer came on the scene on his request and affirmed that the search warrants were in order.” Besides, the presidency official added that while some of the judges, in their statements, said the foreign currencies found on them were from their unspent estacodes, a claim said to be untenable considering the sums of money involved, another judge was said to have explained away the huge sums of money as proceeds from his rice selling business. The highlights of the presidential legal review are explained below: When and How Can Search and Arrest Warrants be Executed? On the issue of search warrant, it was discovered that the DSS followed Section 148 of the ACJA that states: “A search warrant may be issued and executed at any time on any day, including a Sunday and public holiday.” On the issue of how the search should be conducted, the presidential legal review noted: “On how the search should be conducted, Section 149 of the ACJA provides that ‘(1) Where any building or other thing or place liable to search is closed, a person residing in or being in charge of the building, thing or place shall, on demand of the police officer or other person executing the search warrant, allow him free and unhindered access to it and afford all reasonable facilities for its search. ‘(2) Where access into the building, thing or place cannot be so obtained, the police officer or other person executing the search warrant may proceed in the manner prescribed by Sections 9, 10, 12 and 13 of this Act’.” The presidential review report added that “Sections 9, 10, 12 and 13 relate to the use of force in the search of a person arrested; inventory of items recovered in the search; entry of premises where a suspect to be arrested has entered into; and breaking open of any outer or inner door or window of any house or place whether that of the suspect to be arrested or any other person or otherwise effect entry into such house or place”. These provisions are similar to the provisions of Sections 7 and 112 of the Criminal Procedure Law and were followed by the DSS, the report noted. Furthermore, it stated that “by Section 111 of the Criminal Procedure Law, a search warrant may be issued and executed on any day including a Sunday or public holiday. It shall however be executed between the hours of five (5) o’clock in the forenoon and eight (8) o’clock at night, but the court may, in its discretion, authorise by the warrant the execution of the warrant at any hour. “Where the court authorises the execution of a search warrant at any hour other than between the hours of 5 o’clock in the forenoon and 8 o’clock at night, such authorisation may be contained in the warrant at the time of issue or may be endorsed thereon by any magistrate at any time thereafter prior to its execution”. On the execution of an arrest warrant, Section 43(1) of the ACJA provides that “a warrant of arrest may be executed on any day, including a public holiday”. The review also touched on several other aspects of the search and warrant as follows: Who Issues a Warrant of Arrest? By Section 36 (1)(c) of the ACJA, a warrant of arrest is issued by a judge or a Magistrate. A warrant of arrest may be issued on any day, including a Sunday or public holiday. See Section 38 of the ACJA. Under the Criminal Procedure Code Law Cap. 41 Laws of Sokoto State of Nigeria 1996, magistrates and Justices of the Peace have the power to issue warrants of arrest. See Section 56 of the law.  Can Arrests be Effected in the Absence of an Arrest Warrant? Section 44 provides that “a warrant of arrest may be executed notwithstanding that it is not in the possession at the time of the person executing the warrant but the warrant shall, on the demand of the suspect, be shown to him as soon as practicable after his arrest”. By Section 18(1)(d) and (j) of the ACJA, a police officer may, without an order of court and without warrant, arrest a suspect in whose possession anything is found which may reasonably be suspected to be stolen property or who may reasonably be suspected of having committed an offence with reference to the thing; or for whose arrest a warrant has been issued or whom he is directed to arrest by a judge, magistrate, Justice of the Peace or superior police officer. Section 10 of the Criminal Procedure Law contains similar provisions. It provides that “any police officer may, without an order from a magistrate and without a warrant, arrest: Any person whom he suspects upon reasonable grounds of having committed an indictable offence against a federal law or against the law of any other state, unless the written law creating the offence provides that the offender cannot be arrested without a warrant; and Any person in whose possession anything is found which may reasonably be suspected to be stolen property or who may reasonably be suspected of having committed an offence with reference to such thing. The presidential legal review then dealt with the issue of why the DSS and not the Nigeria Police was used in the arrest of the judges.  Who Can Execute Search and Arrest Warrants? “One of the arguments in the polity today is that the arrest of the judges/justices ought to have been carried out by the Nigeria Police rather than the DSS. This argument is premised on the provisions of Section 4 of the Police Act 1967 (Police Act), which outlines the general duties of the police to include ‘the prevention and detection of crime, the apprehension of offenders’,” the review panel noted. It said: “To hold such view without having recourse to the provisions of other laws will be too unproductive. “The question to ask here is: who is a police officer? The answer to this lies not only in the Police Act, but also in other extant laws such as the ACJA, the EFCC Act 2004, and the ICPC Act 2000. “Whereas Section 2 of the Police Act defines a police officer as any member of the force, the ACJA defines a police officer to include any member of the Nigeria police established by the Police Act or where the context so admits, shall include any officer of any law enforcement agency established by an Act of the National Assembly.” According to the review, “The bone of contention in the public discourse hinges on whether the DSS has the power to undertake the operations it undertook in relation to the arrested judges/justices.” To determine whether the action of the DSS was intra or ultra-vires, it is important to consider the mandate of the DSS as enshrined under the law. By Section 2(3) of the National Security Agencies Act 1986, Cap. 278 LFN 1990, the State Security Service is charged with responsibility for – “(a) the prevention and detection within Nigeria of any crime against the internal security of Nigeria; (b) the protection and preservation of all non-military classified matters concerning the internal security of Nigeria; and (c) such other responsibilities affecting internal security within Nigeria as the National Assembly or the president, as the case may be, may deem necessary.” The report also acknowledged that arguments had been proffered on the propriety of a serving judge/justice being tried by his/her peers without first being removed from his/her position and contended that “there is no law that invalidates the trial of a judge/justice merely because he/she is still serving”. “Moreover, where such judge/justice is cleared of all wrongdoing by the justice system, no law precludes him/her from returning to his/her duty post,” the panel stated in its report. Read More

The post As Expected, Presidency Backs DSS’s Unconstitutional Action Against Judges appeared first on The Trent.

Crackdown On Judges: Lawyer Slams N50 Billion Suit On Buhari, Daura, SSS, AGF

A Lagos-based activist and legal practitioner, Olukoya Ogungbeje has filed a N50 billion lawsuit against President Muhammadu Buhari, the State Security Services (SSS, also called by the acronym of its official address, DSS), and Lawal Daura, the director general of the SSS, over the violation of the rights of some federal judges whose houses were raided  and arrested between October 8 and 9, 2016. According to Sun News, other defendants named in the suit are Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation and minister of Justice, Ibrahim Idris, the inspector general of police, and the National Judicial Council, NJC. Ogungbeje alleged that the clampdown and arrest, without recourse to the NJC, was unlawful and amounted to humiliating them. He said the DSS operation violated the rights of judges under sections 33, 34, 35, 36, and 41 of the 1999 Constitution. Among others, he seeks  an order awarding N50 billion against the defendants as “general and exemplary damages.” He also sought to be awarded N2 million  as the cost of the suit and an order compelling the SSS to return to the judges the sums of money recovered from them, and also sought a perpetual injunction restraining the defendants from arresting, inviting, intimidating, or harrassing the judges with respect to the case. The SSS had, between Friday and Saturday, arrested Justices Sylvester Ngwuta and John Okoro of the Supreme Court; Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court, Abuja, and Justice Muazu Pindiga of the Federal High Court, Gombe Division. Justice Nnnamdi Dimgba’s residence was also searched but he was not arrested. Others who were arrested had been placed on suspension by the NJC pending the President Buhari and their various state governors would approve its recommendation for their sacking. They are a former Chief Judge of Enugu State, Justice I. A. Umezulike, the Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, Ilorin Division, Justice Mohammed Tsamiya; and judge of the Kano State High Court, Justice Kabiru Auta. The DSS said it recovered large sums of money in Nigerian and  foreign currencies from three of the judges during the raid on the houses of the seven judicial officers. All the seven of them had since been released on self recognition by the DSS. But Ogungbeje’s suit is restricted to five of the arrested judges who are still in active service, namely, Justices Ngwuta, Okoro, Ademola, Pindiga and Dimgba. The plaintiff contended in his suit that the raid on the residences of the judges and their arrest was unconstitutional. He maintained that the arrest of the judges did not follow the law. He stated in a 39-paragraph affidavit which he deposed to in support of the suit, “That the 1st (President Buhari), 2nd (DG of DSS), 3rd (DSS), 4th (AGF), and 5th (Inspector-General of Police) respondents against there is no petition by the affected to the 6th respondent (NJC). “That the 6th respondent is the only body empowered by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to discipline judges and judicial officers in Nigeria. “That the judiciary is an independent arm of government in Nigeria and separate from the executive and the legislature. “That this illegal and unconstitutional action by the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th respondents have been roundly condemned by the Nigerian Bar Association. “That the 2nd (DG of DSS), 3rd (DSS), and 5th (IGP) respondents carried out their action which brazenly infringed upon the rights of the affected five judges without lawful excuse or recourse to the 6th respondent. “That the 2nd, 3rd and 4th(AGF) respondents have no right under the law and and Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to discipline, infringe upon the rights of the affected judges. “That due process of law has not been followed in the arrest, humiliation harassment and detention of the affected Judges by the armed agents and officers of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th respondents “That the affected judges have not committed any crime or wrong known to law to warrant their arrest, harassment, humiliation and detention, the forceful invasion and sieging of their residential houses and the forceful seizure and confiscation of their monies and properties without any court order. “That due process of law were not followed and carried out by the 2nd, 3rd and 5th respondents before the arrest, humiliation, harassment, embarrassment, hounding, detention and forceful, seizure and confiscation of their monies. “That the officials and agents of the 2nd, 3rd and 5th respondents have threatened and vowed to continue to use to use unconstitutional means to arrest, humiliate, harass, pillory, hound, intimidate, and detain Hon. Judges and judicial officers of superior courts in Nigeria without recourse to the 6th respondent as the constitutionally recognised body to discipline erring judges.” Read More

The post Crackdown On Judges: Lawyer Slams N50 Billion Suit On Buhari, Daura, SSS, AGF appeared first on The Trent.

Nyesom Wike: The Democrat Warring Against Anti-Democratic Forces (READ)

believe that most persons who support the undemocratic assault of the judiciary by Nigeria’s secret police, do so because they are not privy to the dirty conspiracy underlying these actions. Most Nigerians are not conversant with the sustained assault of the Department of State Services, DSS, against Rivers State and the mandate freely extended by Rivers people to Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike. This latest assault is simply another lawless attempt to whittle down the popularity of the People’s Governor in the country. It is a deep-seated illegal onslaught on Rivers State premised on greed and lust for Rivers resources by leaders of the All Progressives Congress, APC, who illegally benefitted from corruptly acquired Rivers funds during the 2015 general election campaigns. Having tasted free stolen funds from the immediate past governor, these APC officials are determined to go to any shameful length to destabilise Rivers State. The DSS anti-democratic and anti-Rivers invasions started in October 2015 at the height of the proceedings of the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal which sat in Abuja. The DSS, Police and Army High Commands after receiving approvals from the leadership of the APC detailed security clowns to testify against the election of Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike. These operatives under cross examination all faltered as they admitted that they did not directly participate in the election. They admitted that their testimonies were based on rumours. However, when Governor Wike and PDP subpoenaed the senior security personnel who directly provided security for the April 11, 2015 Governorship election, armed DSS Operatives stormed the venue of the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal in Abuja . Their objective was to stop these security personnel from mounting the witness box. They claimed they had orders from above to arrest the security witnesses. Heavily Armed Department of State Services, DSS, operatives stormed the Rivers State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal to arrest a retired subpoenaed commander , Emmanuel Philips who testified that the election was peaceful, credible and without cases of violence. They could not arrest the retired commander as lawyers and journalists demanded for arrest warrant which they failed to produce. A day before, the same DSS made an attempt to arrest an Assistant Commissioner of Police, Mr Akuki Kenneth who testified that the Rivers State Governorship Election was peaceful , but was resisted by lawyers. Having failed to stop these security officers from testifying, the DSS used pro-APC online and mainstream media outfits to circulate disparaging false allegations against Governor Wike. Following the failure that met the DSS desperate attempt to abduct a Federal High Court judge in Port Harcourt on 8th October, 2016p, the same organisation has approached her media associates in the APC to hatch and circulate false reports. I read on Premium Times and later shared by Sahara Reporters the claim that the DSS wanted to arrest a judge of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt because he allegedly gave a judgment that favoured the Ahmed Makarfi led PDP National Caretaker Committee. These pro-APC online and mainstream media outfits are quoting “competent security sources” as premise for whatever illogical falsehood they want to spin. However, each time you read these outlets, know that it is part of the desperate thinking of the APC. One fact is now out in the open, sacked former PDP National Chairman received backing from the APC, hence the venomous reprisal by the DSS. This has been explained by the APC media brought in to do damage control for the party. However , the fundamental aim of Governor Wike as regards his timely intervention was to sustain the rule of law as far as Rivers State is concerned. As the duly elected chief executive and Chief security officer of the state , he had a responsibility to ensure that due process was followed. The statement by the National Chairman of APC when he received the defeated Rivers State APC Governorship Candidate , Dakuku Peterside lays credence to the party’s ignoble desperation . Chief Odigie-Oyegun said: “We have lost very important resource-rich states to the PDP. No matter how crude oil prices have fallen, it is still the most important revenue earner for the country.” Since then, the APC leadership both at the Federal and Rivers State level have sponsored attacks on the judiciary , questioning the validation of the election of Governor Wike by the Supreme Court . Despite the sponsorship of destructive propaganda against Governor Wike , he has continued to stand on the truth, promoting the principles of the rule of law and due process. Upon assumption of duty as Governor , Nyesom Ezenwo Wike revived the State Judiciary that was left comatose by the immediate past governor of Rivers State Governor. The governor has also stabilised the judiciary by ensuring peaceful transition of the leadership of the State Judiciary on the premise of the laid down succession rule. The Rivers State Judiciary now enjoys financial autonomy , with massive infrastructural development taking place in the courts. Welfare of judicial officers has been given top priority , while the State Government recently handed over the uultra-modern NBA Law Centre to the Port Harcourt Branch of the NBA to improve research and the rule of law in the state. Governor Wike’s promotion of the rule of law is known to all. His defence of due process is always in the interest of the state and the society. As Rivers State Chief Security officer , he has always worked hard to protect all residents of Rivers State . Addressing the people of Rivers State last Saturday night during a special dinner for the management and players of Rivers United at the Government House, Port Harcourt, Governor Wike said the weak blackmail of the DSS will not lessen the crime they have committed against the Nigerian State by assaulting the judiciary. He noted that nobody is deceived by the concocted figures being circulated by the DSS. He said: “Their blackmail stories will not move me. They will concoct all kinds of stories to justify this undemocratic illegality perpetrated against the judiciary. “It is really unfortunate that DSS would concoct a false defence that $2million USD , (that is N900million) was found in the house of the judge.It is unfortunate that the DSS is coming up with flimsy excuses. “ It will be recalled that the governor and the DSS Operatives had their encounter outside the gate of the residence. It is therefore ridiculous that the DSS remained outside to decare thar N900million was found in the residence. The governor noted that while he does not condone corruption , he will never support any process that is targeted at ruining the nation’s judiciary. He stated that the National Judicial Council has the responsibility to discipline erring and corrupt judges, after which indicted judicial officers are handed over to the relevant law enforcement agency for prosecution. The governor said that the Police, Army and other para-military agencies have their respective processes for the discipline of erring and corrupt officers. “In the police, erring and corrupt policemen are first given orderly room trial, sacked and then appropriately prosecuted. For Judicial Officers, the DSS has no role,” he said. Governor Wike added: “This impunity must stop.I am not in support of any judicial support being involved in corruption. What we are saying is that the right things must be done. We must not do things that will jeopardise our hard earned democracy”. All other well meaning Nigerians and groups have insisted on the rule of law . The general agreement is that corruption must be fought within the ambit of the law. According to the National Judicial Council after its marathon meeting, NJC: “expresses its grave concern on the recent invasion of the Residences and arrest of some serving and suspended Judicial Officers by the Department of State Services (“DSS”); and condemned the action in its entirety. “Viewed the action as a threat to the Independence of the Judiciary, which portends great danger to our democracy; and also considered the action as a clear attempt by the DSS to humiliate, intimidate, denigrate and cow the Judiciary.” The NBA at the end of his second crisis management meeting on 13th October , 2016 declared thus: “That the NBA reiterates in unmistakeable terms its commitment to the fight against corruption and commits itself to collaborate with the Federal Government in bringing culprits to justice whether Judges or ordinary people. However, we will only do this within the ambit of the law and in accordance with due process.” It was the great act of courage by Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike on Saturday , 8th October , 2016 that saved the day for the nation’s judiciary . Otherwise , by now, operatives of the DSS would have hunted down all judicial officers believed to be impartial and not dancing to expected tunes. It was that singular act that brought the entire illegality to the National frontburner . Otherwise , the Nigerian people would have been subjected to an overdose of media trial, which will eventually destroy one of the most important structures of democracy . Those who know Governor Wike well understand that he is not moved by falsehood and propaganda . The actions of the DSS being sponsored by prominent corrupt elements of Rivers APC will not stop the governor from defending the rule of law . Governor Wike has the constitutional responsibility to promote and defend due process, rule of law and constitutional democracy . So far, he has lived up to the expectations of the people in these regards. He has moved Rivers State away from the days of impunity when the immediate past governor practically welded the gates of the courts, drove away judicial officers and lawyers and instituted a regime of lawlessness . The 8th October , 2016 action of Governor Wike disseminated one message unequivocally : “Never again , will anyone, no matter his connection and iill-gotten wealth be allowed to drag Rivers State back to the days of impunity.” Simeon Nwakaudu is a special assistant on electronic media to Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author. 

The post Nyesom Wike: The Democrat Warring Against Anti-Democratic Forces (READ) appeared first on The Trent.

How NJC’s Communique Shames Buhari And His DSS Propaganda | STATEMENT

How the National Judicial Council’s Communique On Abduction Of Judicial Officers Exposed And Shamed Buhari And His DSS Damaging Falsehood And Propaganda The leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law having gone through and carefully studied the communiqué of the National Judicial Council, NJC, issued and dated October 11, 2016, following its Emergency Meeting concerning the recent late night raid of the homes of serving and suspended judges (i.e. Justices of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal and other Federal and State High Court Judges) and their subsequent abduction; have resolved to adopt all but paragraph 4 of the said communiqué of the NJC. By adoption, we mean concurring with all the positions so taken and use of same, under quote, as our additional advocacy position in the subject under discussion. Our total rejection of paragraph 4 is because it looks likes executive influenced and scripted. That is to say that the Buhari Administration is totally a direct opposite of Democracy, Separation of Powers and the Rule of Law. It is, therefore, totally wrong and misleading for the NJC to have expressed confidence in President Muhammadu Buhari Administration and its unwavering determination to uphold the Principles of Democracy, Separation of Powers and the Rule of Law enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, and the United Nations Charter, which Nigeria is a Member. Other than the said paragraph 4, the leadership of NJC is commended for its courage and boldness in the midst of raging Executive recklessness, lawlessness, brigandage, rioting, gross misinformation, deceit, lies, propaganda and campaign of calumny targeted at ruining the collective image and integrity of the Judiciary as well as damaging the characters and persons of unindicted serving senior judicial officers in Nigeria. Further, we wish to add that beyond sanctioning erring judicial officers by way of suspension, dismissal and retirement by the NJC and the Federal and State Executives, they should also be arrested and put on criminal trial by the Nigeria Police Force, the EFCC and the ICPC; and certainly not by the “DSS”. In other words, the “DSS” has no business in arresting, detaining and prosecuting the erring judges; excepting gathering and passing relevant intelligence to the appropriate bodies such as EFCC, ICPC and the Police. Below is the reproduced communiqué of the NJC under reference, bolded and italized: 1.That the National Judicial Council is a creation, by virtue of Section 153 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, with its powers specified in Paragraph 21 of Part One of the Third Schedule whereof. 2.That by virtue of Section 160 of the 1999 Constitution, Council fashioned out: (i)Judicial Discipline Regulations; (ii) Revised NJC Guidelines and Procedural Rules for the Appointment of Judicial Officers of all Superior Courts of Record; (iii) Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; and(iv) National Judicial Policy to inter-alia, regulate its own procedure while exercising its Constitutional Powers. That Section 158 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, has unequivocally provided for the independence of the National Judicial Council vis-à-vis directing or controlling it by any authority or person while exercising its powers. Reiterated its absolute confidence in President Muhammadu Buhari Administration and its unwavering determination to uphold the Principles of Democracy, Separation of Powers and the Rule of Law enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended and the United Nations Charter, which Nigeria is a Member. That it shall continue to support the President Buhari Administration in its fight against corruption in all its ramifications in the Federation; and in cleansing the Judiciary of corrupt Judicial Officers [provided it is carried out holistically and in accordance with due process, laid down procedures, human rights principles and rule of law and devoid of pursuit of political vendetta]. However, expresses its grave concern on the recent invasion of the Residences and arrest of some serving and suspended Judicial Officers by the Department of State Services (DSS); and condemned the action in its entirety. Viewed the action as a threat to the Independence of the Judiciary, which portends great danger to our democracy; and also considered the action as a clear attempt by the DSS to humiliate, intimidate, denigrate and cow the Judiciary. BACKGROUND FACTS 8.1 RE: HON. JUSTICE SYLVESTER NGWUTA: The Public is aware that Hon. Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria,was arrested after his House was invaded by heavily armed and masked operatives of the Department of States Security on Friday 7th October, 2016. The operatives did not leave his house until 12.00 noon of the following day, when he was whisked away to the (“DSS”) office. 8.2 RE: HON. JUSTICE INYANG OKORO: The Residence of Hon. Justice Inyang Okoro, a Justice of Supreme Court of Nigeria, was raided in the same manner and was arrested by the same operatives of the DSS. Contrary to the claim by the DSS and as published in the electronic and print media, Council has never received any petition against the aforesaid Judicial Officers: Hon. Justices Ngwuta and Okoro of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, by the DSS. 8.3 RE: HON. JUSTICE MUHAMMED LADAN TSAMIYA OF THE COURT OF APPEAL At its Meeting which was held on 29th September, 2016, Council had found His Lordship culpable of professional misconduct contrary to Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the provisions of Section 292 of 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria. Accordingly, he was recommended to Mr. President for compulsory retirement from office following the petition written by one Mr. Nnamdi Iro Oji for demanding the sum of N200,000,000.00 (Two Hundred Million Naira) bribe. It is to be stressed that from the evidence before the Council, Hon. Justice Ladan Tsamiya did not receive N200m bribe. The Petitioner adduced evidence to support his allegation that Hon. Justice Tsamiya only demanded for the money. In the exercise of its power, Council had suspended Justice Tsamiya from office, pending when the President will act on the recommendation. And Mr. President has approved the recommendation of the Council and compulsorily retired His Lordship from office yesterday, the 12th day of October, 2016. 8.4. RE: HON. JUSTICE I. A. UMEZULIKE, OFR. Hon. Justice I. A. Umezulike, OFR, Chief Judge, Enugu State, was recommended for compulsory retirement from office to Enugu State Governor for gross misconduct, pursuant to the petition written against him by Mr. Peter Eze. In the meantime, National Judicial Council has suspended His Lordship from office pending when the Governor of Enugu State will act on its recommendation. 8.5. RE: HON. JUSTICE A. F. A. ADEMOLA, OF THE FEDERAL HIGH COURT. Hon. Justice A. F. A. Ademola of the Federal High Court, Abuja Division has been petitioned by Hon. Jenkins Duviegiane Gwebeon allegations bordering on corrupt practices. Currently, a Committee of the Council is investigating the allegations. There is no other petition against Hon. Justice Ademola from DSS pending at the National Judicial Council. 8.6. RE: HON. JUSTICE KABIRU AUTA, KANO STATE HIGH COURT. Hon. Justice Kabiru Auta was investigated by Council based on allegations of corrupt practices levelled against him in a petition forwarded to Council by one Alhaji Kabiru Yakassai. His Lordship was recommended to the Governor of Kano State for removal from office by dismissal. Council wrote separately to the AIG Kano Zone 1, for Police to prosecute Hon. Justice Auta. Council has suspended His Lordship from office pending when the Governor will act on its recommendation. 8.7 RE: HON. JUSTICE MUAZU PINDIGA OF HIGH COURT, GOMBE STATE The DSS petitioned the Hon. Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman of the National Judicial Council alleging corrupt practices against Hon. Justice Pindiga, inter-alia:-  “i) That the Hon. Judge in a bid to illegally enrich himself, perfected plans through third party proxies/conduits, with a view to influencing the outcome of the Election Tribunal in the governorship polls in favour of the incumbent Governor Nyesom Wike. (ii) That further ongoing discreet investigation, Justice Pindiga is observed to have illegally enriched himself through corrupt means. Part of the illegitimate proceeds suspected to have accrued to Pindiga includes the underlisted: a) Two (2) completed blocks of six (6) units 2 bedroom flats in Federal Low Cost Estate in Gombe metropolis; (b) Four (4) units of bungalow in another part of the Estate; (c) An uncompleted property at GRA in Gombe Metropolis; (d) a Mercedes Benz C300 car in the name of MUBAJJAL; (e) A Toyota Venza-Model SUV. (iii) From all indications, it is apparent that Pindiga, who is a very Senior Justice in Gombe State, is highly corrupt. His continuous stay as a Justice in any capacity would likely embarrass the current administration and pervert the cause of justice. In view of the foregoing, it is strongly advised that immediate necessary administrative and judicial measures be taken on him, including appropriate sanctions and trial to set a precedent to others of his like”. The complaint containing the allegations of corrupt practices against the Hon. Judge was conveyed in a letter Ref No. DGSS71/3161 and dated 26th February, 2016, written by the DSS to the Hon. Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman of the National Judicial Council. The petition was not supported by a verifying affidavit deposed to by the DSS, as required by the National Judicial Council Discipline Regulations 2014. The Petition should have been disregarded for non-compliance with the National Judicial Council Regulations, but by letter Ref. No. NJC/S.15/HC.GM/5/1/128 dated 19th April, 2016, the DSS was notified and requested to comply and to depose to a verifying affidavit in support of the allegations of corrupt practices levelled against the Hon. Judge. By letter Ref No. LSD.232/4/68 dated 6th May, 2016, to the Council, the DSS deposed to a verifying affidavit in respect of the allegations against Justice Pindiga. On the directive of the Council, Hon. Justice Mu’azu Pindiga responded to the allegations against him by DSS. Thereafter, a Committee comprising Members of the Council investigated the allegations of corrupt practices. Both Parties – The DSS and Hon. Justice Mu’azu Pindiga, together with their witnesses and counsel appeared before the Panel set up by Council in compliance with the National Judicial Discipline Regulations and Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, on the Right to Fair Hearing. The DSS was represented by a Director, S. U. Gambo, Esq. who is also a Legal Practitioner in the Department and Hon Justice Pindiga was represented by Joe Agi, SAN. At the end of the investigation, the DSS could not substantiate any of the allegations of corrupt practices either by documentary or oral evidence against the Hon. Justice Pindiga. Consequently, at its Meeting of 15th July, 2016, Council decided to exonerate Hon. Justice Pindiga of the allegations of corrupt practices levelled against him by DSS. The Council’s decision was conveyed to Hon. Justice Pindigain a letter Ref. No. NJC/HC.GM/5/1/132 of 9th August, 2016 and copied the DSS. 8.8. RE: HON. JUSTICE NNAMDI DIMGBA OF FEDERAL HIGH COURT ABUJA DIVISION Council is aware that DSS had written a complaint alleging corrupt practices and professional misconduct against Hon. Justice Dimgba by a letter Ref. No. LSD.158/2/31 dated 5th August, 2016. At its Meeting of 29th September, 2016, Council constituted a Fact Finding Committee comprising its Members to investigate the allegation. During the last Emergency Meeting of the Council, it received a Report from Hon. Justice Nnamdi Dimgba that his Residence was also raided and ransacked; and in the process, his nephew and driver were man-handled, using a wrong search warrant which was not meant for the search of his house. The Committee has commenced the process of investigating the allegations before the recent unfortunate raid and search of Hon. Justice Dimgba’s Residence. Council meticulously considered the entire unfolding events that led to the arrest of the Judicial Officers and the misinformation and disinformation making rounds in both Electronic and Print Media that the DSS acted thus because the National Judicial Council was shielding the Judicial Officers from investigation and prosecution for corrupt practices and professional misconduct. Council noted particularly, that from the available records, the DSS forwarded only two(2 no.) separate complaints containing allegations of Corrupt Practices against Hon. Justice Pindiga; and corrupt practices and professional misconduct against Hon. Justice Dimgba. The impression created and widely circulated before the public, that the DSS forwarded a number of petitions containing various allegations of corrupt practices and professional misconduct against some Judicial Officers to the Council, and they were not investigated, is not correct. The Council urges the DSS to make public the particulars of such petitions to put the records straight. Given the above background facts, on behalf of the Judiciary, Council is constrained to inform the general public that all petitions and complaints forwarded against Judicial Officers bordering on corrupt practices and professional misconduct, have been attended to and investigated, where applicable, by Council since year 2000 to date, within the powers conferred on it by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended. Therefore, any Judicial Officer that was reprimanded by Council or recommended for removal from office by compulsory retirement or dismissal to the President or Governor, was done in compliance with the Constitutional power, Rule of Law and Due Process. From year 2000, when the National Judicial Council held its inaugural Meeting to 2016, 1808 petitions and complaints against Judicial Officers, including Chief Justices of Nigeria, Justices of Supreme Court and Court of Appeal were received by the respective Honourable, the Chief Justices of Nigeria and Chairman of the National Judicial Council. Eighty-two (82 No.) of the Judicial Officers were reprimanded (suspension, caution or warning), by Council, in the exercise of its exclusive Constitutional Disciplinary power over Judicial Officers. Thirty-eight (38 No.) of the Judicial Officers were recommended to the President or Governor where applicable, for compulsory retirement from office; while twelve (12 No.) were recommended to the President or Governor as the case may be, for dismissal from office. In conclusion, Council wishes to state as follows:-1)That it maintains its earlier decision that no Judicial Officer shall be invited by any Institution including the DSS, without complying with the Rule of Law and Due Process. That explains why when the DSS wrote to the Council by letter Ref. No. LSC.960/4 dated 14th September, 2016, to direct Hon. Justice Mu’azu Pindiga to appear before it, The Hon. The Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman of the National Judicial Council directed the Hon. Chief Judge of Gombe State to ask Hon. Justice Mu’azu Pindiga to report to DSS, which His Lordship did. 2)That the National Judicial Council has never shielded nor will it shield any Judicial Officer who has committed any misconduct. 3) That the Department of State Services is an Agency in the Presidency and its functions as specified in the statute establishing it, is primarily concerned with the internal security of the Country. 4) That the action of the DSS is a denigration of the entire Judiciary, as an institution. 5) That by the act of the DSS, Judicial Officers are now being subjected to insecurity, as criminals might take advantage of the recent incidents to invade their residences under the guise of being security agents. 6) The Council vehemently denounces a situation whereby the Psyche of Judicial Officers in the Federation is subjected to a level where they would be afraid to discharge their Constitutional judicial functions, without fear or favour, intimidation, victimization or suppression. 7) The Council will not compromise the integrity and impartiality of the Judiciary. 8) The Council wishes to reassure the public that any person who has a genuine complaint against any Judicial Officer is at liberty to bring it up to the Council for consideration, after following due process vide its Judicial Discipline Regulations. 9) At the end of the Meeting, Council unanimously agreed to recommend Hon. Justice W. S. N. Onnoghen, CFR, as the most senior, suitable and competent Justice of the Supreme Court to President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, for appointment as the next Chief Justice of Nigeria to succeed Hon. Justice Mahmud Mohammed GCON who retires from office on 10th November, 2016. Soji Oye, Esq. Ag. Director (Information), NJC [National Judicial Council, Nigeria, 11th October 2016). Signed: Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law-INTERSOCIETY Mobile Line: +2348174090052 Email: [email protected] Website: www.intersociety-ng.org Obianuju Igboeli, Esq., LLB, BL; LLM (c) Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Program Mobile Line: +2348034186332 Chinwe Umeche, Esq., LLB, BL Mobile Line: +2347013238673 Head, Democracy & Good Governance Program

The post How NJC’s Communique Shames Buhari And His DSS Propaganda | STATEMENT appeared first on The Trent.

Crackdown On Judges: NJC Releases Damning Statement On Buhari Regime, DSS [MUST READ]

THE POSITION OF THE NATIONAL JUDICIAL COUNCIL ON THE RECENT INVASION OF THE RESIDENCES AND ARREST OF JUDICIAL OFFICERS BY THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE SERVICES, DSS At its last Emergency Meeting which was held on October 11th 2016, Council decided among other matters, as follows: That the National Judicial Council is a creation, by virtue of Section 153 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, with its powers specified in Paragraph 21 of Part One of the Third Schedule whereof. That by virtue of Section 160 of the 1999 Constitution, Council fashioned out: Judicial Discipline Regulations; ii) Revised NJC Guidelines and Procedural Rules for the Appointment of Judicial Officers of all Superior Courts of Record; iii) Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; and iv) National Judicial Policy to inter-alia, regulate its own procedure while exercising its Constitutional Powers. 3. That Section 158 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, has unequivocally provided for the independence of the National Judicial Council vis-à-vis directing or controlling it by any authority or person while exercising its powers. 4. Reiterated its absolute confidence in President Muhammadu Buhari Administration and its unwavering determination to uphold the Principles of Democracy, Separation of Powers and the Rule of Law enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended and the United Nations Charter, which Nigeria is a Member. 5. That it shall continue to support the President Buhari Administration in its fight against corruption in all its ramifications in the Federation; and in cleansing the Judiciary of corrupt Judicial Officers. 6. However, expresses its grave concern on the recent invasion of the Residences and arrest of some serving and suspended Judicial Officers by the Department of State Services (“DSS”); and condemned the action in its entirety. 7. Viewed the action as a threat to the Independence of the Judiciary, which portends great danger to our democracy; and also considered the action as a clear attempt by the DSS to humiliate, intimidate, denigrate and cow the Judiciary. BACKGROUND FACTS 8.1 RE: HON. JUSTICE SYLVESTER NGWUTA The Public is aware that Hon. Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, was arrested after his House was invaded by heavily armed and masked operatives of the Department of States Security on Friday 7th October, 2016. The operatives did not leave his house until 12.00 noon of the following day, when he was whisked away to the (“DSS”) office. 8.2 RE: HON. JUSTICE INYANG OKORO The Residence of Hon. Justice Inyang Okoro, a Justice of Supreme Court of Nigeria, was raided in the same manner and was arrested by the same operatives of the DSS. Contrary to the claim by the DSS and as published in the electronic and print media, Council has never received any petition against the aforesaid Judicial Officers: Hon. Justices Ngwuta and Okoro of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, by the DSS. 8.3 RE: HON. JUSTICE MUHAMMED LADAN TSAMIYA OF THE COURT OF APPEAL At its Meeting which was held on 29th September, 2016, Council had found His Lordship culpable of professional misconduct contrary to Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the provisions of Section 292 of 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria. Accordingly, he was recommended to Mr President for compulsory retirement from office following the petition written by one Mr Nnamdi Iro Oji for demanding the sum of N200,000,000.00 (Two Hundred Million Naira) bribe. It is to be stressed that from the evidence before the Council, Hon. Justice Ladan Tsamiya did not receive N200m bribe. The Petitioner adduced evidence to support his allegation that Hon. Justice Tsamiya only demanded for the money. In the exercise of its power, Council had suspended Justice Tsamiya from office, pending when the President will act on the recommendation. And Mr. President has approved the recommendation of the Council and compulsorily retired His Lordship from office yesterday, the 12th day of October, 2016. 8.4. RE: HON. JUSTICE I. A. UMEZULIKE, OFR Hon. Justice I. A. Umezulike, OFR, Chief Judge, Enugu State, was recommended for compulsory retirement from office to Enugu State Governor for gross misconduct, pursuant to the petition written against him by Mr. Peter Eze. In the meantime, National Judicial Council has suspended His Lordship from office pending when the Governor of Enugu State will act on its recommendation. 8.5. RE: HON. JUSTICE A. F. A. ADEMOLA, OF THE FEDERAL HIGH COURT Hon. Justice A. F. A. Ademola of the Federal High Court, Abuja Division has been petitioned by Hon. Jenkins Duviegiane Gwebe on allegations bordering on corrupt practices. Currently, a Committee of the Council is investigating the allegations. There is no other petition against Hon. Justice Ademola from DSS pending at the National Judicial Council. 8.6. RE: HON. JUSTICE KABIRU AUTA, KANO STATE HIGH COURT Hon. Justice Kabiru Auta was investigated by Council based on allegations of corrupt practices levelled against him in a petition forwarded to Council by one Alhaji Kabiru Yakassai. His Lordship was recommended to the Governor of Kano State for removal from office by dismissal. Council wrote separately to the AIG Kano Zone 1, for Police to prosecute Hon. Justice Auta. Council has suspended His Lordship from office pending when the Governor will act on its recommendation. 8.7 RE: HON. JUSTICE MUAZU PINDIGA OF HIGH COURT, GOMBE STATE The DSS petitioned the Hon. Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman of the National Judicial Council alleging corrupt practices against Hon. Justice Pindiga, inter-alia:- “i) That the Hon. Judge in a bid to illegally enrich himself, perfected plans through third party proxies/conduits, with a view to influencing the outcome of the Election Tribunal in the governorship polls in favour of the incumbent Governor Nyesom Wike. ii) That further ongoing discreet investigation, Justice Pindiga is observed to have illegally enriched himself through corrupt means. Part of the illegitimate proceeds suspected to have accrued to Pindiga includes the underlisted: a) Two (2) completed blocks of six (6) units 2 bedroom flats in Federal Low Cost Estate in Gombe metropolis; b) Four (4) units of bungalow in another part of the Estate; c) An uncompleted property at GRA in Gombe Metropolis; d) a Mercedes Benz C300 car in the name of MUBAJJAL; e) A Toyota Venza-Model SUV. iii) From all indications, it is apparent that Pindiga, who is a very Senior Justice in Gombe State, is highly corrupt. His continuous stay as a Justice in any capacity would likely embarrass the current administration and pervert the cause of justice. In view of the foregoing, it is strongly advised that immediate necessary administrative and judicial measures be taken on him, including appropriate sanctions and trial to set a precedent to others of his like”. The complaint containing the allegations of corrupt practices against the Hon. Judge were conveyed in a letter Ref No. DGSS71/3161 and dated 26th February, 2016, written by the DSS to the Hon. Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman of the National Judicial Council. The petition was not supported by a verifying affidavit deposed to by the DSS, as required by the National Judicial Council Discipline Regulations 2014. The Petition should have been disregarded for non-compliance with the National Judicial Council Regulations, but by letter Ref. No. NJC/S.15/HC.GM/5/1/128 dated 19th April, 2016, the DSS was notified and requested to comply and to depose to a verifying affidavit in support of the allegations of corrupt practices levelled against the Hon. Judge. By letter Ref No. LSD.232/4/68 dated 6th May, 2016, to the Council, the DSS deposed to a verifying affidavit in respect of the allegations against Justice Pindiga. On the directive of the Council, Hon. Justice Mu’azu Pindiga responded to the allegations against him by DSS. Thereafter, a Committee comprising Members of the Council investigated the allegations of corrupt practices. Both Parties – The DSS and Hon. Justice Mu’azu Pindiga, together with their witnesses and counsel appeared before the Panel set up by Council in compliance with the National Judicial Discipline Regulations and Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, on the Right to Fair Hearing. The DSS was represented by a Director, S. U. Gambo, Esq. who is also a Legal Practitioner in the Department and Hon Justice Pindiga was represented by Joe Agi, SAN. At the end of the investigation, the DSS could not substantiate any of the allegations of corrupt practices either by documentary or oral evidence against the Hon. Justice Pindiga. Consequently, at its Meeting of 15th July, 2016, Council decided to exonerate Hon. Justice Pindiga of the allegations of corrupt practices levelled against him by DSS. The Council’s decision was conveyed to Hon. Justice Pindiga in a letter Ref. No. NJC/HC.GM/5/1/132 of 9th August, 2016 and copied the DSS. 8.8. RE: HON. JUSTICE NNAMDI DIMGBA OF FEDERAL HIGH COURT ABUJA DIVISION Council is aware that DSS had written a complaint alleging corrupt practices and professional misconduct against Hon. Justice Dimgba by a letter Ref. No. LSD.158/2/31 dated 5th August, 2016. At its Meeting of 29th September, 2016, Council constituted a Fact Finding Committee comprising its Members to investigate the allegation. During the last Emergency Meeting of the Council, it received a Report from Hon. Justice Nnamdi Dimgba that his Residence was also raided and ransacked; and in the process, his nephew and driver were man-handled, using a wrong search warrant which was not meant for the search of his house. The Committee has commenced the process of investigating the allegations before the recent unfortunate raid and search of Hon. Justice Dimgba’s Residence. 9. Council meticulously considered the entire unfolding events that led to the arrest of the Judicial Officers and the misinformation and disinformation making rounds in both Electronic and Print Media that the DSS acted thus because the National Judicial Council was shielding the Judicial Officers from investigation and prosecution for corrupt practices and professional misconduct. 10. Council noted particularly, that from the available records, the DSS forwarded only two(2 no.) separate complaints containing allegations of Corrupt Practices against Hon. Justice Pindiga; and corrupt practices and professional misconduct against Hon. Justice Dimgba. 11. The impression created and widely circulated before the public, that the DSS forwarded a number of petitions containing various allegations of corrupt practices and professional misconduct against some Judicial Officers to the Council, and they were not investigated, is not correct. The Council urges the DSS to make public the particulars of such petitions to put the records straight. 12. Given the above background facts, on behalf of the Judiciary, Council is constrained to inform the general public that all petitions and complaints forwarded against Judicial Officers bordering on corrupt practices and professional misconduct, have been attended to and investigated, where applicable, by Council since year 2000 to date, within the powers conferred on it by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended. 13. Therefore, any Judicial Officer that was reprimanded by Council or recommended for removal from office by compulsory retirement or dismissal to the President or Governor, was done in compliance with the Constitutional power, Rule of Law and Due Process. 14. From year 2000, when the National Judicial Council held its inaugural Meeting to 2016, 1808 petitions and complaints against Judicial Officers, including Chief Justices of Nigeria, Justices of Supreme Court and Court of Appeal were received by the respective Honourable, the Chief Justices of Nigeria and Chairman of the National Judicial Council. Eighty-two (82 No.) of the Judicial Officers were reprimanded (suspension, caution or warning), by Council, in the exercise of its exclusive Constitutional Disciplinary power over Judicial Officers. Thirty-eight (38 No.) of the Judicial Officers were recommended to the President or Governor where applicable, for compulsory retirement from office; while twelve (12 No.) were recommended to the President or Governor as the case may be, for dismissal from office. In conclusion, Council wishes to state as follows:- That it maintains its earlier decision that no Judicial Officer shall be invited by any Institution including the DSS, without complying with the Rule of Law and Due Process. That explains why when the DSS wrote to the Council by letter Ref. No. LSC.960/4 dated 14th September, 2016, to direct Hon. Justice Mu’azu Pindiga to appear before it, The Hon. The Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman of the National Judicial Council directed the Hon. Chief Judge of Gombe State to ask Hon. Justice Mu’azu Pindiga to report to DSS, which His Lordship did. That the National Judicial Council has never shielded nor will it shield any Judicial Officer who has committed any misconduct. 3) That the Department of State Services is an Agency in the Presidency and its functions as specified in the statute establishing it, is primarily concerned with the internal security of the Country. 4) That the action of the DSS is a denigration of the entire Judiciary, as an institution. 5) That by the act of the DSS, Judicial Officers are now being subjected to insecurity, as criminals might take advantage of the recent incidents to invade their residences under the guise of being security agents. 6) The Council vehemently denounces a situation whereby the Psyche of Judicial Officers in the Federation is subjected to a level where they would be afraid to discharge their Constitutional judicial functions, without fear or favour, intimidation, victimization or suppression. 7) The Council will not compromise the integrity and impartiality of the Judiciary. 8) The Council wishes to reassure the public that any person who has a genuine complaint against any Judicial Officer is at liberty to bring it up to the Council for consideration, after following due process vide its Judicial Discipline Regulations. 9) At the end of the Meeting, Council unanimously agreed to recommend Hon. Justice W. S. N. Onnoghen, CFR, as the most senior, suitable and competent Justice of the Supreme Court to President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, for appointment as the next Chief Justice of Nigeria to succeed Hon. Justice Mahmud Mohammed GCON who retires from office on 10th November, 2016. Soji Oye, Esq Ag. Director (Information)

The post Crackdown On Judges: NJC Releases Damning Statement On Buhari Regime, DSS [MUST READ] appeared first on The Trent.

Invasion Of Judges’ Home Is A Threat To Democracy – Governor Okowa

Ifeanyi Okowa, the governor of Delta State, has joined other Nigerians in condemning the midnight raids of homes of federal high court and supreme court justices saying the crackdown carried out by the Department of State service, DSS portends a threat to the nation’s democracy. Governor Okowa made this declaration in Asaba on Sunday, October 9, 2016 during a thanksgiving mass to kick-off the 2016/2017 legal year of the state judiciary. The governor was represented by his deputy, Kingsley Otuaro, a legal practitioner. The governor described the invasion of the judges’ homes as an act of intimidation against the judiciary, adding that the action was a threat to democracy and the rule of law. He further cautioned the nation’s security apparatus to operate within the confines of the law. Okowa also noted that the judicial officers should also desist from acts that will defame the hallowed chambers of the profession, he however lauded the judiciary for its immense support to democracy and his administration, and pledged to continue to create the enabling environment for the judiciary to operate. Bishop Michael Elue of the Catholic Diocese of Issele-Uku charged judicial officers to seek divine assistance from the holy spirit in the dispensation of justice. The clergyman sued for the independence of the three tiers of government, calling on the judiciary to remain the hope of the common man by living above aboard. Present at the occasion was the chief judge of Delta State, Marshal Umukoro who reassured the public that the judiciary is committed to dispensation of justice to all manner of persons in the state without fear or favour. “We shall observe the judicial oath and do justice to all manner of men and women without fear or favour. But to those who may be dissatisfied with our judgements, decisions or rulings, I dare say that name-calling, unsubstantiated allegations and hasty petition writing should be slowly adhered to,” Umukoro advised. While thanking judges, lawyers and other judicial workers for their hard work during the past legal year, he lauded the executive arm of government for its continuous support of the judiciary, and thanked all Deltans for having faith in the judiciary.

The post Invasion Of Judges’ Home Is A Threat To Democracy – Governor Okowa appeared first on The Trent.

REVEALED: National Judicial Council Found DSS Allegations Against Judges Baselss (DETAILS)

The National Judicial Council (NJC) rejected initial attempts by the Department of State Security Services, DSS, Nigeria’s secret police, an appendage of the presidency, to initiate a crackdown on the judiciary, citing separation of powers and rule of law, a correspondence between the NJC and the DSS has revealed. According to an exclusive report by Thisday, investigation into the judges started as far back as January or February this year. The leaked correspondence however shows that the NJC also informed the DSS that its investigations into the cases of the accused judges showed that there was no evidence of corruption as alleged by the SSS and as such, the judges were not guilty of the allegations for which the DSS wanted to carry out a “sting operation” on them. The correspondence also revealed that the NJC said it was not amenable to “invitations being extended to judicial officers by departments and agencies of government for any reason”. The refusal by the NJC to co-operate with the DSS prompted the Buhari presidency to go ahead with the raid on the judges. Preparatory to their arrests, the DSS on October 5, 2016, had obtained search warrants from a magistrate’s court in Abuja for Justices Nnamdi Dimgba, Sylvester Nwali Ngwuta, A.A. Ademola and John Inyang Okoro. In the search warrants, all the judges were alleged to have engaged in corrupt practices, falsehood, and under-declaration of assets. The warrants granted the DSS the power to search their residences for money in Nigerian and foreign currencies, bank tellers, computers and other incriminating evidence. However, after the crackdown, the DSS late Sunday night released seven of the judges it arrested between Friday and Saturday, ostensibly because it did not get the co-operation of the NJC. A statement by the DSS said the judges were released on self-recognition. This was evident Monday, October 10, 2016, when the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmud Mohammed appealed for calm over the unprecedented arrest of two of his colleagues and other judges of lower cadre, and expressed deep regret over the “distressing and unfortunate incident”. The CJN, who broke his silence on the issue during the valedictory session held in honour of a retired Supreme Court judge, Justice Suleiman Galadima, also said he was saddened by the event. Mohammed’s stance was reinforced in a number of letters between the NJC and DSS, which were obtained exclusively by Thisday, showing that the investigation into the alleged corrupt practices by the judges started early this year. The letters also showed the reluctance by the NJC to co-operate with the DSS in its investigation of the judges. In one letter dated April 19, 2016, the NJC through its secretary, Mr. Danladi Halilu, on behalf of the CJN, wrote to the DSS, acknowledging its letter titled, Re: Corrupt Practices of Justice Pindiga, which was dated February, 26, 2016. In the said letter, the NJC wrote: Reference your petition dated 26th February 2016, to the Hon. President of the Court of Appeal and copied to the Honourable, the Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman of the Nigerian Judicial Council, Hon. Justice Mahmud Mohammed, GCON, against Hon. Justice M.A. Pindiga of the High Court of Justice, Gombe State on the above subject matter. “I have been directed to inform you that your complaint has not complied with the extant Judicial Discipline Regulation 2014 of the Council, as it was not accompanied with a verifying affidavit deposed to by you before a court of record. “In view of the forgoing, you may wish to comply, please.” In yet another letter to the director-general of the DSS, Lawal Daura, dated August 29, 2016 and signed this time by the CJN, the NJC acknowledged receipt of a petition dated August 5, 2016 on corrupt practices and professional misconduct by Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court. It further informed the DSS DG that action was being taken on the petition. Then in a letter dated September 7, 2016, titled “Re: Corrupt Practices of Justice Pindiga”, which was signed by the secretary of the NJC, the council adopted a more dismissive tone saying that its investigation had not found Justice Pindiga wanting that would warrant his sanction. It stated: “Reference your Petition No. DGSS.71/3161, dated February 26th 2016 to the Honourable, the Chief Justice of Nigerian and Chairman of the National Judicial Council, Hon. Justice Mahmud Mohammed, GCON, against the Hon. Justice M.A. Pindiga of the High Court of Justice, Gombe State, on the above subject matter. “At its meeting of 1st and 2nd of June 2016, Council constituted a Fact Finding Committee comprising its members under the chairmanship of Hon. B.A. Adejumo, OFR, President of the National Industrial Court, to investigate the allegations contained in your petition, among others. “At its meeting which held on the 14th and 15th of July 2015, Council considered and deliberated extensively on the report and noted that the officer that represented your office at the investigative committee, averred that your office could not conduct full investigation of the petition to obtain hard facts to support the preliminary report, as allegedly, your organisation was directed by the Honourable, the Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman of the National Judicial Council, to stay further action on the matter to allow the National Judicial Council look into it. “At the end of deliberation, Council found that the claim by your organisation is not correct, as the Honourable, the Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman of the National Judicial Council, Hon. Mahmud Mohammed, GCON, did not stop your office from conducting full investigation so as to obtain hard facts to support preliminary findings and proof of allegations without inviting Hon. Justice Pindiga to your office, having done so when he was serving as the Chairman of the Election Petition Tribunal. “Consequently, in the absence of any patent evidence to substantiate the allegations contained in your petition against the Judicial Officer, Council was unable to find any act of misconduct to warrant His Lordship being sanctioned. “Council further directed that while it is appreciative of the wonderful working relationship between the Judiciary and other Arms of Government, in fidelity with the Principles of Separation of Powers and Rule of Law, it is not amenable to invitations being extended to judicial officers by departments and agencies of government for any reason.” The council’s letter elicited a swift and angry response on September 14, 2016 from the DSS, which first reprimanded the NJC for having the temerity to address the DG of DSS, Mr. Daura by his name, in its letter of September 7. Signed by Mr. Ahmed Ahmad on behalf of the DG, the SSS made it abundantly clear that the NJC’s letter should have been addressed to the “Director-General, Department of State Services, simpliciter”, and all correspondence should henceforth bear the correct nomenclature and address of the DG, SSS. After letting off steam over the correct nomenclature to be used for the DG, SSS, the letter stated: “I am further directed to note paragraph 5 of your letter in which it was stated that the “Council is not amenable to invitations being extended by Departments and Agencies of government for any reason” and to observe that if this is strictly adhered to, it would constitute a serious obstacle on the path of Agencies of Government saddled with the responsibilities of carrying out or conducting investigation into any criminal act by the Judicial Officers concerned.” The letter went on to remind council that under the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution, “only the president, vice-president and sitting governors and their deputies are conferred with immunity”. “Even then, this immunity does not exempt them from criminal or security investigation,” it noted. It said: “In view of the foregoing, and the fact that Council has concluded action on the Pindinga case, I further directed to humbly request you to direct Justice Mu’azu Pindiga to report to the National Headquarters of the Department of State Service to see the Director Operations on 15th September, 2016 at 1100 hours unfailingly. Responding on the day Pindiga was supposed to appear at the SSS, the secretary of the NJC wrote to the SSS reminding it that its manner of address in the letter of September 7 in which it used Daura’s name and his designation was not disrespectful, nor was it unusual and that the council had in the past written similar official letters to “Mr. President, Senate President, Hon. Ministers, State Governors and Heads of Government Departments, Agencies and Institutions in similar manner by addressing same in their names and designations as well”. It stated, however, that the council had noted the SSS’ observations and would henceforth address all correspondence to the DG, SSS. The NJC added: “I am further directed to inform your office that what was communication to the office on the above caption vide letter Reference No. NJC/HC.GM/5/1/134 of 7th September 2016, was the decision taken by the council at its meeting which was held on 15th July, 2016. “Therefore, all the observations contained in the letter aforesaid, will be presented before Council at its next meeting scheduled for 28th and 29th September, 2016 and the outcome of which will be communicated to your office, instant. “In the meantime, the Honourable, the Chief Justice of the Nigeria and Chairman of the National Judicial Council, Hon. Justice Mahmud Mohammed, GCON, has directed the Hon. Chief Judge of Gombe State to immediately contact the Subject Judge and to ask him to appear in your office as requested; and the Judge has complied. Ostensibly, the DSS was believed to have written another letter to the NJC requesting for the records of proceedings of deliberations and or decision of the council, but this was turned down by the council in a letter dated October 7, 2016, thus prompting the DSS to move in to arrest the judges that they had targeted. In the said letter signed by Mr. Halilu to DSS, NJC said: I have been directed to inform the Department of State Security Services that by the precedents and practice of the Council with respect to the subject matter, no Record of Proceedings or deliberations and or decision of Council, including the Report of its Investigation Committee are released to the Complainant or Petitioner or Subject Judge or any Institution, save by an order of Court.” Read More

The post REVEALED: National Judicial Council Found DSS Allegations Against Judges Baselss (DETAILS) appeared first on The Trent.