President Muhammadu Buhari has described the arrest of seven senior judges between Friday night and Saturday morning, as an attack on corruption and not the judiciary.
Seven judges, including two of the Supreme Court, have been arrested in the raids between Friday night and Saturday morning by operatives of the Department of State Security, DSS, and are expected to be charged to court from today.
President Buhari said the raids on the judges residence by the State Security Service, SSS, was an assault on corruption and not on the judiciary.
In a statement by his media adviser, Garba Shehu, the president said the raids was ‘surgical’ and followed due process.
The statement read:
“The Presidency assures that the President reserves his highest respect for the institution of the judiciary as the third arm of government.
“To this end, the President will not do anything to undermine its independence.
“The recent surgical operation against some judicial officers is specifically targeted at corruption and not at the judiciary as an institution.
“In a robust democracy such as ours, there is bound to be a plurality of opinions on any given issue, but there is a convergence of views that the country has a corruption problem that needs to be corrected.
“But reports by a section of the media are giving us cause for concern.
“In undertaking the task of reporting, the media should be careful about the fault lines they open. It is wrong to present this incident as a confrontation between the executive and judicial arms of government.
“The Presidency has received assurances from the DSS that all due processes of the law, including the possession of search and arrest warrants, were obtained before the searches.
“To suggest that the government is acting outside the law in a dictatorial manner is to breach the interest of the state.”
DSS have alleged that some of the arrested judges collected bribe from departmental stores while some others travelled as far as Ghana, Benin Republic and Niger Republic to collect bribe.
While one of the judges just acquired a N1.5 billion mansion, another allegedly collected bribe in a department store and one allegedly crossed the borders to Benin Republic, Niger Republic and Ghana to collect money. A Court of Appeal judge allegedly collected N200 million but he was only recommended for retirement and the NJC directed him to refund the cash in instalments.
The DSS claims to have in its possession an audio and video tapes of some of the judges collecting bribe.
The detained judges include two Supreme Court judges – 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).