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DSS raid: Reps, senators condemn arrest of judges



Some members of the National Assembly on Sunday criticised the Department of State Services for the arrests of some judges and the raids on their residences on Friday and Saturday last week.

The PDP Caucus of the House in particular, “condemned” the action of the DSS, warning that it was a “threat to democracy.”

Similarly, the Chairman, House Committee on Federal Judiciary, Mr. Aminu Shagari, accused the DSS of “failing to follow due process of the law” by invading the homes of the judges and arresting them.

The Chairman, House Committee on Justice, Mr. Razak Atunwa, also said the DSS overstepped its bounds.

House Minority Leader and Leader of the PDP’s caucus, Mr. Leo Ogor, stated that after analysing the Act establishing the DSS, members could not find a provision to justify Friday’s action of the agency.

Ogor added, “We condemn in its entirety, the said Gestapo invasion of the residences and arrests of the judges at those odd hours. It is not only unlawful but a threat to due process, usurpation of the responsibilities of the Nigeria Police, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission or the National Judicial Council.

“We have taken pains to further analyse the National Security Agencies Act, from where the State Security Service, under the Provision of Section 3, derives its powers.

“We make bold to state that we could not find anything like the fight against corruption or financial crimes in the SSS mandate.

“Let it be known to Nigerians and the world at large that the core functions of SSS, border on treasonable crime and nothing more.”

Shagari, a member of the ruling APC from Sokoto State, told The PUNCH on Sunday that the manner the judges were arrested humiliated the judiciary.

Shagari explained, “There are rules for handling issues such as this. These are honourable justices and of the Supreme Court especially.

“The way their houses were invaded was not proper. There are procedures of the law and the DSS flouted them.”

Also, it was learnt that the issue would be one of the major subjects of debate on the floor of the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly when plenary resumes on Tuesday.

Two senators, who spoke to one of our correspondents on Tuesday, condemned the DSS for the reported ‘Gestapo style’ deployed in the operations by its operatives.

The Deputy Minority Whip of the Senate, Senator Abiodun Olujimi, described the raids by the DSS as being in bad taste and a return to the anarchy prevalent during military rule.

She said, “It does not make any sense and it is not fair. We can’t bring our exalted leaders down just for the sake of it. ‘‘Granted, they (DSS) could want to investigate the judges, but there are more civilised ways to go about it.”

The Chairman, Senate Committee on the Federal Capital Territory, Mr. Dino Melaye, on Sunday, condemned the arrest and invasion of the residences of the detained judges.

He said although judges had no immunity and could be tried, the use of DSS by government was “absolutely wrong and unacceptable.”

The position of Melaye of the APC, representing Kogi West, was contained in a statement he issued in Abuja.

He added, “There is no doubt that many judges are corrupt. It is also important to state the need to sanitise the judiciary of corruption that make judges to give commercial rulings which create terrible precedent in our legal system. Judges have no immunity and can be tried and should be tried but the use of DSS is absolutely wrong.

“The DSS operatives, even when they overstretch themselves and conduct investigations into the activities of judges, they ought to hand over their findings to the appropriate institutions of government – the Police or NJC – for prosecution and punishment.’’Punch