By TUNDE BADMUS
Ekiti State governor, Mr Ayodele Fayose has described the invasion of
residences of five judges, including those of two Justices of the
Supreme Court – Justice Walter Onnoghen (who is in line to succeed the
outgoing Chief Justice of Nigeria) and Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, by
armed men of the Department of State Service (DSS) and reported arrest
as a direct assault on the judiciary.
Governor Fayose, who addressed the press in Ado-Ekiti on Saturday,
said; “It should now be obvious to all Nigerians and the international
community that democracy is under threat in Nigeria and Nigerians must
rise to save democracy from being truncated.”
The governor said; “For all intent and purposes, there is no how the
federal government can justify the gestapo and crude action of the DSS
against our judiciary, the last hope of the common man and I believe
they just want to hide under anti-corruption fight to blackmail and
intimidate the judiciary. If not, have the affected judges been
reported to the National Judicial Council (NJC), the body saddled with
the responsibilities of investigating and sanctioning erring judges?
Were the affected judges ever invited by the DSS and they refused to
honour the invitation?
“I am particularly worried over the involvement of Justice Walter
Onnoghen in the invasion, and I hope this is not a plot to prevent his
appointment as the next CJN just because he is from the South South
“Nigerians should be reminded that I raised similar alarm when this
regime of impunity started with the invasion of the Akwa-Ibom State
government house and later the Ekiti State House of Assembly.
“I did say then that democracy in Nigeria was becoming unsafe in the
hands of this APC government and that those keeping silent because of
politics might also end up in the belly of the roaring lion that is
threatening to consume our democracy. Then, those who ought to have
joined in condemning the DSS impunity at that time kept silent for
fear of the unknown.
Now we have gotten to the height of it and Nigeria faces full-blown
military dictatorship! This is sad!
“It is more worrisome that two of the judges involved, Justice Adeniyi
Ademola and Justice Nnamdi Dimgba ruled against the DSS and condemned
its impunity on the cases of former National Security Adviser (NSA),
Col Sambo Dasuki (rtd) and retired Air Commodore, Umar Mohammed and
one wonders if upholding the rule of law by refusing to help the DSS
to sustain its reign of impunity has now become a criminal offence for
which judges must be harassed, intimidated and arrested.
“The question to ask is that, will the DSS be a judge in its own case?
Even if there are evidence(s) of corruption against the judges as they
will want Nigerians to believe, the law is clear as to what to do. The
NJC must be informed and the council will in turn investigate the
allegation and take appropriate actions. It is after this that the
affected judges can be invited for questioning and possibly
“It should be noted that few days ago, the NJC sacked three judges for
breaching the Codes of Conduct for Judicial Officers and went further
to recommend that one of them, Justice Kabiru M. Auta be handed over
to the Inspector General of Police for prosecution for alleged
“If NJC could do this less than one week ago, has the same NJC been
informed of any allegation of corruption against the judges whose
residences were invaded?
“I therefore call on all Nigerians and the international community to
rise in defense of democracy and the rule of law in our country
because as it is, no one will be spared by this rampaging
“Particularly, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and other
stakeholders in the judiciary must not allow this to go unchallenged.
“Obviously, the DSS has become a threat to democracy in Nigeria,
having abandoned its core mandate of providing intelligence for the
protection of the internal security of Nigeria as provided in the
Security Agencies Act Cap. N74 LFN, 2004.
“It has therefore become necessary that President Buhari put a stop to
the actions and activities of these overzealous security agencies that
can endanger democracy.”