Friday, October 14, 2016

Invasion of judges homes by DSS is a threat to the independence of the judiciary- NJC

The National Judicial Council has described the invasion of homes and arest of some serving and suspended judges by agents of the Department of Security Services (DSS) as a threat to the independence of the judiciary... 

In a statement released last night, the council said no judicial officer who is under any form of investigation should be invited by any institution in the country, including the DSS, without complying with the rule of law and due process.

DSS officials last Saturday, stormed the homes of some judges alleged to have been involved in corrupt practices and arrested them. The affected judges namely Justices Okoro and Ngwuta of the Supreme Court; Justice Muhammad Ladan Tsamiya of the Court of Appeal; Justice Kabiru Auta of the Kano High Court; Justice Mu’azu Pindiga of the Gombe High Court; Justice Ibrahim Auta, Chief Judge of the Federal High Court of Nigeria; and Justice Adeniyi Ademola, were however released on grounds of self recognition on Monday October 10th.  

According to Thisday, the NJC in its statement maintained it had never shielded any judge from investigation. Part of the NJC's statement reads 

“That it maintains its earlier decision that no judicial officer shall be invited by any institution, including the DSS, without complying with the rule of law and due process. That explains why when the DSS wrote to the council by letter Ref. No. LSC.960/4 dated 14th September 2016, to direct Hon. Justice Mu’azu Pindiga to appear before it, the Hon., the Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman of the National Judicial Council directed the Hon. Chief Judge of Gombe State to ask Hon. Justice Mu’azu Pindiga to report to DSS, which His Lordship did. 

That the National Judicial Council has never shielded, nor will it shield any judicial officer who has committed any misconduct. That the Department of State Services is an agency in the presidency and its functions as specified in the statute establishing it, is primarily concerned with the internal security of the country. That the action of the DSS is a denigration of the entire judiciary, as an institution. That by the act of the DSS, judicial officers are now being subjected to insecurity, as criminals might take advantage of the recent incidents to invade  their residences under the guise of being security agents. The council vehemently denounces a situation whereby the psyche of judicial officers in the federation is subjected to a level where they would be afraid to discharge their constitutional judicial functions, without fear or favour, intimidation, victimisation or suppression. 

The council will not compromise the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. The council wishes to reassure the public that any person who has a genuine complaint against any judicial officer is at liberty to bring it up to the council for consideration, after following due process vide its Judicial Discipline Regulations.”

The NJC added that at the end of it two-day meeting, it unanimously agreed to recommend Justice W. S. N. Onnoghen, as the most senior, suitable and competent justice of the Supreme Court to President Muhammadu Buhari for appointment as the next Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), to succeed Hon. Justice Mahmud Mohammed, who retires from office on the 10th November 2016.

‎The statement further read: “At its last emergency meeting, which was held on 11th October 2016, Council decided among other matters, as follows:
“That the council is a creation, by virtue of Section 153 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, with its powers specified in Paragraph 21 of Part One of the Third Schedule whereof.

“That by virtue of Section 160 of the 1999 Constitution, council fashioned out: i) Judicial Discipline Regulations; ii) Revised NJC Guidelines and Procedural Rules for the appointment of judicial officers of all superior courts of record; iii) Code of Conduct for judicial officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; and‎ iv) National Judicial Policy to inter-alia, regulate its own procedure while exercising its constitutional powers.

“That Section 158(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, has unequivocally provided for the independence of the National Judicial Council vis-à-vis directing or controlling it by any authority or person while exercising its powers.

“‎Reiterated its absolute confidence in the President Muhammadu Buhari administration and its unwavering determination to uphold the principles of democracy, separation of powers and the rule of law enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended and the United Nations Charter, of which Nigeria is a member.

“‎That it shall continue to support the President Buhari administration in its fight against corruption in all its ramifications in the federation; and in cleansing the judiciary of corrupt judicial officers.”
The council further addressed the issues as they affected each of the affected judges.

In the case of Justice Ngwuta, it stated that the public was aware that Ngwuta, a justice of the Supreme Court, was arrested after his house was invaded by heavily armed and masked operatives of the DSS on Friday, 7th October 2016.
“The operatives did not leave his house until noon of the following day, when he was whisked away to the (“DSS”) office,” it revealed.

In the case of Justice Okoro‎, the council stated that the residence of Justice Okoro, a justice of Supreme Court, was raided in the same manner and was arrested by the same operatives of the DSS.
It stated that “contrary to the claim by the DSS and as published in the electronic and print media, council has never received any petition against the aforesaid judicial officers: Hon. Justices Ngwuta and Okoro of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, by the DSS”.
In the case of Justice Muhammed Ladan Tsamiya of the Court of Appeal, the council said that ‎at its meeting held on 29th September 2016, it found him culpable of professional misconduct contrary to the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers and the provisions of Section 292 of the constitution.
NJC said that it accordingly recommended him to Buhari for compulsory retirement from office, following the petition written by one Mr. Nnamdi Iro Oji for demanding the sum of N200 million bribe.
The council said: “It is to be stressed that from the evidence before the it, Hon. Justice Ladan Tsamiya did not receive the N200 million bribe. The petitioner adduced evidence to support his allegation that Hon. Justice Tsamiya only demanded for the money.
“In the exercise of its power, council suspended Justice Tsamiya from office, pending when the president will act on the recommendation. And Mr. President has approved the recommendation of the council and compulsorily retired His Lordship from office yesterday the 12th day of October, 2016.”
On Justice I. A. Umezuluke, the Chief Judge of the Enugu State, the council ‎revealed that it also recommended him for compulsory retirement from office to the Enugu State governor for gross misconduct, pursuant to the petition written against him by Mr. Peter Eze.
It stated that the judge remained suspended, pending the time the Enugu governor would act on its recommendation.
With respect to Justice A.F. Ademola of the Federal High Court, Abuja, the council said there was a petition written against him by ‎Hon. Jenkins Duviegiane Gwebe on allegations bordering on corrupt practices.
It disclosed: “Currently, a committee of the council is investigating the allegation. ‎There is no other petition against Hon. Justice Ademola from DSS pending at the National Judicial Council.”
In the case of Justice Kabiru Auta of the Kano State High Court, the council said he was investigated based on allegations of corrupt practices levelled against him in a petition by one Alhaji Kabiru Yakassai.
NJC added that it had recommended the judge to the governor of Kano State for removal from office by dismissal.
It said: “Council wrote separately to the AIG Kano Zone 1, for the police to prosecute Hon. Justice Auta. Council has suspended His Lordship from office pending when the governor will act on its recommendation.”
On Justice Pindiga of the Gombe State High Court, the council said it received a petition from DSS against him alleging ‎corrupt practices against him.
“The DSS had alleged that the ‎‎ judge, in a bid to illegally enrich himself, perfected plans through third party proxies/conduits, with a view to influencing the outcome of the election tribunal in the governorship polls in favour of the incumbent Governor Nyesom Wike (of Rivers State).
“It was also alleged ‎that further ongoing discreet investigation, Justice Pindiga was observed to have illegally enriched himself through corrupt means.
“Part of the illegitimate proceeds suspected to have accrued to Pindiga include the underlisted: a) Two (2) completed blocks of six (6) units of two bedroom flats in Federal Low Cost Estate in Gombe metropolis; b) Four (4) units of bungalows in another part of the estate; c) An uncompleted property at GRA in Gombe metropolis; d) a Mercedes Benz C300 car in the name of MUBAJJAL; e) a Toyota Venza-Model SUV.
“The DSS also alleged that from all indications, it was apparent that Pindiga, who is a very senior justice in Gombe State, was highly corrupt,” the NJC disclosed.
The council further stated that DSS alleged that “Pindiga’s continuous stay as a justice in any capacity would likely embarrass the current administration and pervert the cause of justice.
“In view of the foregoing, it strongly advised that immediate necessary administrative and judicial measures be taken on him, including appropriate sanctions and trial to set a precedent to others of his like,” NJC alleged.
The council said the‎ complaint was not supported by a verifying affidavit deposed to by the DSS, as required by the National Judicial Council Discipline Regulations 2014.
The council said the petition should have been disregarded for non-compliance with the National Judicial Council Regulations, but by letter Ref. No. NJC/S.15/HC.GM/5/1/128 dated 19th April, 2016, the DSS was notified and requested to comply and to depose to a verifying affidavit in support of the allegations of corrupt practices levelled against the Hon. Judge, and that the DSS deposed to the verifying affidavit following which Justice Pindiga responded to the allegations against him by DSS.
NJC said: “Thereafter, a committee comprising members of the council investigated the allegations of corrupt practices. Both parties – the DSS and Hon. Justice Mu’azu Pindiga, together with their witnesses and counsel – appeared before the panel set up by council in compliance with the National Judicial Discipline Regulations and Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, on the right to fair hearing.
“The DSS was represented by a Director, S. U. Gambo, Esq. who is also a legal practitioner in the department and Hon Justice Pindiga was represented by Joe Agi (SAN).
“At the end of the investigation, the DSS could not substantiate any of the allegations of corrupt practices either by documentary or oral evidence against the Hon. Justice Pindiga.
“Consequently, at its Meeting of 15th July, 2016, Council decided to exonerate Hon. Justice Pindiga of the allegations of corrupt practices levelled against him by DSS.
“The Council’s decision was conveyed to Hon. Justice Pindiga in a letter Ref. No. NJC/HC.GM/5/1/132 of 9th August, 2016 and copied the DSS.”
In the case of Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, the council said: “Council is aware that DSS had written a complaint alleging corrupt practices and professional misconduct against Hon. Justice Dimgba by a letter Ref. No. LSD.158/2/31 dated 5th August 2016.
“At its meeting of 29th September 2016, council constituted a fact finding committee comprising its members to investigate the allegation.
“During the last emergency meeting of the council, it received a report from Hon. Justice Nnamdi Dimgba that his residence was also raided and ransacked; and in the process, his nephew and driver were man-handled, using a wrong search warrant which was not meant for the search of his house.
“The committee has commenced the process of investigating the allegations before the recent unfortunate raid and search of Hon. Justice Dimgba’s residence,” it said.
The NJC said it had also meticulously considered the entire unfolding events that led to the arrest of the judicial officers and the misinformation and disinformation making the rounds in both the electronic and print media that the DSS acted thus because the National Judicial Council was shielding the judicial officers from investigation and prosecution for corrupt practices and professional misconduct.
It noted particularly that from the available records, the DSS forwarded only two separate complaints containing allegations of corrupt practices against Justice Pindiga and corrupt practices and professional misconduct against Justice Dimgba.

“The impression created and widely circulated before the public that the DSS forwarded a number of petitions containing various allegations of corrupt practices and professional misconduct against some judicial officers to the council, and they were not investigated, is not correct.
“The council urges the DSS to make public the particulars of such petitions to put the records straight,” it stated.
Rendering an account of the disciplinary cases it has handled since 2000, it said: “Given the above background facts, on behalf of the judiciary, council is constrained to inform the general public that all petitions and complaints forwarded against judicial officers bordering on corrupt practices and professional misconduct, have been attended to and investigated, where applicable, by council since year 2000 to date, within the powers conferred on it by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended.
“Therefore, any judicial officer that was reprimanded by council or recommended for removal from office by compulsory retirement or dismissal to the president or governor, was done in compliance with the constitutional power, rule of law and due process.
“From year 2000, when the National Judicial Council held its inaugural meeting to 2016, 1808 petitions and complaints against judicial officers, including Chief Justices of Nigeria, justices of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal were received by the respective Chief Justices of Nigeria and Chairmen of the National Judicial Council.
“Eighty-two of the judicial officers were reprimanded (suspension, caution or warning) by council, in the exercise of its exclusive constitutional disciplinary power over judicial officers.
“Thirty-eight of the judicial officers were recommended to the president or governor, where applicable, for compulsory retirement from office; while 12 were recommended to the president or governor, as the case may be, for dismissal from office.


NaijaDeltaBabe said...

But were dey found guilty or not?

...merited happiness

ONYX linda ikeji first son GODWIN said...

If due procedures wasn't followed , then yes. It's a threat.

dj banti said...

I agree with you
Godtakeover nigeria

daniel ubong said...

Rubbish government, everything about this government is sickening,nobody rule with muscle and succeed.

Eddy Ogbunambala said...


Ogenah Boris said...

It was expected immediately APC won that alot of laws will be trampled on

kintakunte said...


Bonita Bislam said...

You guys are the problem with Nigeria. How many guilty rich men have you set free with your verdict?, how many innocent people are languishing in jail coz of delayed trial? Not to talk of the way you interprete the law to suit your personal interest.
DSS followed due process.

Jasmin Williams said...

I concur with the NJC

vinna saviour said...

No be small thing o

Fortunatus Ifenna said...

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Mark said...

the question is, are these Judges truly corrupt? we already heard about fleets of expensive cars owned by some of them.. we can not deny the fact that corruption has been the major doom befalling our Nigeria.. if they are involved them let them facce the musci.. the so called 'Independence of the Judiciary' should not be an evenue for Judges to be corrupt! just my view thou.

livingstone chibuike said...


OSINANL said...


Anonymous said...

Only lawyers will understand what NJC is trying to point out, they are absolutely right, if you are not in the system, you certainly with comprehend the point they are driving at. It has become apparent that this anti corruption fight is having a great effect on the rights of humans, I commend Buhari for all his efforts, however the agencies under him are beginning to exercise such powers in the wrong way, they tell lies to get their way, if a court'd ruling doesn't go in their favour, they go after the judge or the counsel on the other side, this is a rape on the judicial system and I allign myself with the statement of the NJC, every judge should be able to discharge his duties without fear or favour, there is certainly a procedure for everything and even the government agencies should not be seen as being above the law.

Nseabasi Ekpo said...

am tempted to wonder how rich are our judicial officers or well paid for them to avoid the kind of luxury they are associated with in terms of cars, houses and bank accounts; and why the only mode of sanction by the NJC can only be dismissal, but not prosecutions.

Alloy Chikezie said...

What are these one's saying, they had a warrant so they should mute.

Your comment will be visible after approval.

Iphie Abraham said...

Too long

Lib addict#just passing#

Anonymous said...

if PMB doesn't do this no one will ever deal with these corrupt untouchables. the good thing is that PMB doesn't give a f@%k.

Anonymous said...

This piece just further shows how corrupt the NJC has been.Taking bribes and altering judgements are criminal offenses and can't be left to the judgement of the NJC(which most of the time doesn't exceed retirement)it has to be handled by the police or Efcc which is what happened.unless this country is rid of these kind of people,we will not make any meaningful progress.

Genevieve Okoroigbo said...

No one is above the Law.

says, Genevieve.

Juliet Iwuno said...

Criminals! Linda take note!

Anonymous said...

God bless u my sister... the nerve of these clowns... how can judges afford such exorbitant life styles? What picture r they painting? They collect bribes and let criminals off the hook and stupid njc is whining... God has caught u all egunje days r over... u all have major explaining to do

Vivian Reginalds said...

-D great anonymous now as Vivian Reginalds

Julius Idowu said...

@NJC Capital Lie.

FRESH said...

NJC? Body of bribe takers-sorry benchers. Covering yourselves abi? Make unable continue. If this government doesn't not succeed in shutting down corruption.,someday the masses will.You all will know how bad that may be.

health said...

Bonis Ram abi wetin be your name sef, you belong to the animal farm.

Eleojo Blessing said...

Very interesting

Anonymous said...

NJC indeed. We hear una. A sitting judge who takes 5billion from Governor Wike and gets dismissed will happily go home. Someone has to put these judges up on their toes because the NJC does not have powers to prosecute. The DSS should have just done their thing quietly though so as not to ridicule the entire judiciary. Look at NJC talking about retirement and recommendation for dismissal of thone found wanting. If you recommend such to a governor who uses same Chief Judge to do dirty jobs he'll ignore the NJC as has happened in rivers and Ekiti states before

CHERYL (aka FROM GLORY to GLORY) said...

Then sue them! I think we should begin to wonder why the arrested judges haven't said a word about the arrest. Those spewing rubbish on their behalf are wasting their time. If their hands are clean I wonder why they r all shaking abt this..

Long Live LIB

Uju Phil said...

I'm more concern about the manner and way of the arrest,else,everything fell in place! #Muva

sholetoga said...

It's not like anyone or NJC support corrupt judges but the gestapo style used in arresting the judges that were arrested is what many well meaning Nigerians are against. We all watch Investigation Discovery-extra on DSTV and see how the police treat or attend to criminals, even murderers. So nothing stop the DSS from inviting them and questioning them. That would have been applauded by all but trust the Buhari administration just like drama and I think they are enjoying the drama. Don't be surprised that by November, the anti corruption fight will shift to former VPs..........The drama continues

Eze-Udemba Zuma said...

I hope that people like Professor Sagay who were applauding DSS for their barbaric mode of operation will read and digest NJC response here and agree that, under law and order, the end must never justify the means. I still maintain that DSS did the right thing the wrong way in order to play to the gallery thereby messing up the whole thing.

Anonymous said...

Due process ought to be followed but NJC said this was not done.what is now different between corruption and breaking the law? Same offence.

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