The Nigeria Bar Association NBA, President Abubakar Mahmoud, has insisted that President Muhammadu Buhari should call the security agencies responsible for the arrest of the judges to order. He said: “We viewed these actions as illegal and unconstitutional and a threat to the independence of the judiciary and must be aimed at intimidating the judiciary and the legal profession”.
Speaking in Abuja on Monday during the valedictory session held in honour of a retired Supreme Court Justice, Justice Suleiman Galadima, the NBA President regretted that “These military style opitions are totally unacceptable in a democratic society. They are unacceptable against private citizens but even more against serving justices of superior courts”. Mahmoud said the NBA rejects the explanations and justification by the presidency that these so called surgical operations were targeted at corruption and not the judiciary.
“We find it absurd that the presidency will accept assurances from DSS that it followed due process of the law”. “We maintain our position that these operations are illegal and unconstitutional. I want to reiterate that the position of the NBA is not aimed at protecting any judge. We are not also shielding any judges from investigation from charges of corruption”.
He also addressed the divisions among lawyers over the arrests and raids of the judges’ houses in the middle of the night by masked armed men. “We do not accept it. This portends real danger to the Nigerian democracy. It is contrary to all civilised norms and accepted standards”. He called on DSS to restrict itself to its constitutional and statutory duties as according to him, DSS core mandate is to guaranteeing internal national security.
“It is not its duty to conduct police investigation or arraign and prosecute cases of corruption. It is not its responsibility to conduct sting operations on judges for corruption or professional misconduct in the middle of the night,” he added. He called on the CJN to immediately take necessary and urgent steps to set in motion the process of cleansing the system. He said: “Urgent steps to restore confidence of the Nigerian people in the nation’s judiciary”. He called on lawyers to remain resolute and speak with one voice, adding, “this is not the time to be divided”.