DSS’ arrest of judges unconstitutional, unacceptable—NBA


…Wants Buhari to order immediate release of affected judges

…Sets up crisis management team comprising bar leaders to meet with fG 

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) on Saturday dismissed the sting operations conducted by operatives of the Department of State Service (DSS) on some judges in about five states of the Federation as unconstitutional and unacceptable.

President of the NBA, Mr Mahmoud Mohammed (SAN) who addressed newsmen on the issue on Saturday in Lagos requested President Muhammadu Buhari  to order immediate release of the affected judges.

Mahmoud (SAN) addressed the journalists after the NBA comprising some of its past leaders met on the matter in Lagos.

Those who were at the NBA meeting were Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), Dr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), Mr. J.B. Daudu (SAN) and Augustine Alegeh (SAN).

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Others in attendance  were Prof. Kayinsola Ajayi (SAN), Mr. Yusuf Ali (SAN), Mr. Dele Adesina (SAN), among others.

They were all present at the press conference by Mahmoud (SAN).

Mahmoud said two Supreme Court justices, Inyang Okoro and Sylvester Ngwuta were “abducted”, with their families, adding that he had yet to have the full detail of other judges who might also be involved.

Mahmoud said the NBA condemned what it termed the Gestapo-style operation of the DSS.

He subsequently announced the constitution of an emergency or crisis management team, comprising past NBA presidents to engage with the government.

Mahmoud, who said it was not the responsibility of the DSS to arrest judges, described the DSS action as an unconstitutional means of intimidating the judiciary and undermining its independence.

The NBA President called on President Muhammadu Buhari to order the immediate release of the arrested judges, vowing that there would be consequences should the demand be ignored.

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Mahmoud said, “I want to emphasise again that we are not under military rule and we cannot accept this unholy event and Gestapo-style operation.

“We, therefore, call on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately caution all the state security agencies and to respect the rule of law and to respect due process.

“For any issues affecting the judicial officers, there are established procedures for handling them and we demand that this constitutional process must be obeyed.

“Given the unfolding nature of the event and the seriousness of the situation, the NBA hereby declares a state of emergency as it affects the affairs of the judiciary and I hereby constitute a crisis management team, comprising all past presidents of the association.

“I want to, on behalf of the association, make the very following clear and unequivocal demands: we demand the immediate and unconditional release of all the judges abducted from about 9pm yesterday (Friday).

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“The release must be done immediately and without any conditions. Two, we demand that the Department of State Services should limit itself to its statutory and constitutional responsibilities.

“I’ll be meeting with the CJN later tonight or tomorrow. There will be consequences should these demands are not met.”