President Muhammadu Buhari has made his first official reaction to the arrest of seven senior judges between Friday night and Saturday morning. Buhari said the raids on the judges residence by the State Security Service, SSS, was an assault on corruption and not on the judiciary.
Seven judges, including two of the Supreme Court, were arrested in the raids, condemned by lawyers and rights groups, and are expected to be charged to court from tomorrow. The president in a statement by his media adviser, Garba Shehu, described the raids as ‘surgical’ saying due process was followed in the arrests. “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,” he said.
Read Mr. Shehu’s full statement below:
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. President Buhari remains a committed democrat, in words and in his actions, and will not take any action in violation of the constitution. 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.