Legal practitioner, Jiti Ogunye, sees nothing wrong in the manner in which the Department of State Service (DSS) executed its arrest of three Nigerian judges in the early hours of Saturday, October 8.
Speaking on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics, Mr Ogunye explained the execution of the warrant of arrest, and quoted Section 148 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, which states that a search warrant can be issued and executed at any time of the day including a Sunday or a public holiday.
He was reacting to the claim by constitutional lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, who had earlier on the programme, described the arrest of the judges as “most condemnable by any right thinking member of the society”.
Ozhekhome faulted the timing and manner of the arrest, claiming that the law does not allow for homes of suspects to be searched during the night or for doors to be broken in order to gain access.
Mr Ogunye berated Ozekhome for quoting an old law which, according to him, has since seized to be relevant. “People are not familiar with the law and those who should enlighten the public manipulate the law and they don’t disclose what the law has said.”
On the “gestapo” manner in which the arrest was done, he went further to read from Section 149 of the Act, where the law permits law enforcement agents to “break open any outer or inner door or window of any house or place of the suspect to be arrested” if access to such building cannot be obtained or is denied.
He argued that it has become impossible to deny that Nigeria has serious ethical issues in the judiciary, bordering on corruption.
In justifying the need to fight corruption, Mr Ogunye noted that corruption is the bane of the Nigerian society, “it has affected our development, stunted our growth and destroyed our country”.
Mr Ozekhome had also earlier argued that democracy only thrives on its adherence to the rule of law and the Nigerian government, by allowing the arrests, has gone against the values of democracy and the DSS has gone beyond its constitutional mandate.
“The DSS by our constitutional organogram has its own functions and these are to take care of the internal security of the country.
“Its counterpart the DIA, Directorate
of Intelligence Agency, is in charge of matters concerning military, while the NIA, Nigerian Intelligence Agency, is in charge of security matters that extend beyond the boundaries of Nigeria.
“The three legal entities that are allowed by our laws to go into corruption matters are the EFCC, the ICPC and the Nigerian Police, particularly under Section 4.
“So, their action is faulted fundamentally on the ground that they were going beyond their constitutional and statutory mandate,” he said.
Again, Mr Ogunye disagreed with Mr Ozekhome’s argument.
“This law was made during the military era and it has wide implications,” he argued, adding that the law also added that the DSS can be saddled with any issue the President feels affects the internal security of the country.
“The corruption of the judiciary that wants to destroy the third arm of government can be deemed, and in fact I will deem it, as something that is affecting the security of the country,” he said.