During the invasion of the official residence of one of the seven judges raided recently, operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) discovered a fleet of 15 exotic cars including a Rolls-Royce.
A source close to the investigation who pleaded not to be named because he is not permitted to talk to the media said:
“Operatives have discovered that one of the judges owns a mansion which was contracted to a construction firm at a huge cost. In fact, the judge imported furniture from Brazil, Argentina and Spain.
“At a stage, he conducted his ‘poor colleagues’ round the mansion in an open display of affluence. The judge has about 15 cars, including a Rolls-Royce. This Rolls-Royce was imported.
Rolls-Royce Limited is a British car manufacturing and, later, aero-engine manufacturing company founded by Charles Stewart Rolls and Sir Frederick Henry Royce on 15 March 1906 as a result of a partnership formed in 1904. Its latest cars cost at least a whopping N100 million depending on the brand and the exchange rate of the naira to a dollar.
The same judge whose name is being shielded, according to The Nation, was reportedly said to have hired a notable construction firm to build his palatial home. He also imported furniture from foreign countries.
Detectives also uncovered more corrupt practices traced to some of the judges undergoing probe, according to the source, during interrogation, another judge reportedly told the DSS that he did not know how and when N18 million got into his account because he was not getting alerts from his bank which would have made him lodge a complaint. Despite the judge’s denial, the source said: “but we have evidence of withdrawals from the account.”
One of the judges also said the money found in his account was his accumulated medical allowances. Responding to a question, the source revealed that another judge was found to have submitted three assets declaration forms to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).
“We have retrieved the assets declaration forms of these judges. It was shocking that one of them has three asset declaration forms with different dates of birth.”
The asset forms of the seven arrested judges were being analysed by the DSS as at yesterday, the report said.
While the judges have continued to make useful information to the operatives, the government seems to have foreclosed their return to their profession as it is believed they cannot be facing trial and still be in the adjudicating cases.
The Justices who were recently arrested in a string operation by the DSS include Justices Sylvester Ngwuta and Inyang Okoro – the suspended Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, Ilorin Division, Justice Mohammed Ladan Tsamiya, who was picked up in Sokoto; Justice Adeniyi Ademola (Federal High Court); the Chief Judge of Enugu State, Justice I. A. Umezulike; Justice Kabiru Auta of Kano State High Court; and Justice Muazu Pindiga (Gombe State High Court).
The source further told disclosed that the government has asked the National Judicial Council (NJC) to suspend the affected judges pending the outcome of their trial. He added that those who may not be allowed back to the bench are Justice Ngwuta, Justice Okoro, Justice Ademola and Justice Pindiga, as they could be retired. However, he said that the judges will still go through a trial to enable Nigerians to know that “they were actually caught in the act”. The source further said:
“The position of the government is that none of these judges will be allowed back to the bench in the interest of the nation’s Judiciary. They cannot be arraigned in the dock and at the same time be adjudicating or attending to cases.
“It is left to the NJC to allow the affected judges to keep off the bench until their fate is determined. But certainly, they will face trial and the outcome will determine whether or not they will be retired or dismissed.
“We are expecting the NJC to do the needful by suspending the judges.”