The National Judicial Council (NJC) has condemned, in strongest terms, last weekend midnight raiding of houses of some serving and suspended judicial officers nationwide by operatives of the Department of State Service (DSS) and subsequent arrest of the judges.
The Council said the entire exercise as carried out by agents of the executive arm of government was nothing but an attack against the independence of the judiciary and a ploy to cow the third arm of government.
It would be recalled that the Presidency had, during the week, stated that the arrest of the judges should be seen as a fight against corruption and not the judiciary as an institution.
The Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed had also reiterated that the Presidency had no intention and would not intimidate the judiciary by its on-going purge of the judiciary.
But the NJC had rejected such explanations as after-thought and deceptive.
The Council stated that the Presidency was only harassing the judiciary, vowing however that it would not buckle.
In a statement released Thursday night by its Acting Director, Barrister Soji Oye, the NJC said the claim made by the DSS that it invited all the affected judicial officers but refused to honour its invitation was a lie.
The Council gave the two arrested justices of the apex court as instance.
It said there was no previous complaint or allegation of corruption against the two top judicial officers, neither was any of them ever invited by the DSS.
NJC said that while it remained in total support of President Muhammadu Buhari’s on-going fight against graft, it said the battle must be done within the ambit of rule of law.
The Counĉil however said it had recommended to President Muhammadu Buhari for appointment as the next Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, to succeed the outgoing CJN, Justice Mahmud Mohamed, who retires on attaining 70 years of age on November 10, 2016.
The full statement of the NJC on the twin issues of judges’ arrest and the recommendation of Justice Onoghen is published in the newspaper.