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Judges’ arrest: Caution security agencies, Senate tells Buhari

The Senate on Tuesday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to call all security agencies to order and direct the full observance of the rule of law in the discharge of their duties.

The call came after deliberation of a motion by Sen. Joshua Lidani (Gombe South) condemning the action of the Department of State Service in the arrest of some judges across the country last weekend.

The DSS operatives had on Saturday arrested Justice John Okoro and Justice Sylvester Nguta, both of the Supreme Court; former Chief Judge of Enugu State, Innocent Umezulike; Justice Namdi Dimgba and Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court, Abuja.

Others were Justice Kabiru Auta from Kano judiciary and Muazu Pindiga of Federal High Court, Gombe.

The judges were released on bail late Sunday on self-recognition.

In the motion, Lidani prayed the senate to summon the Director of the DSS, Lawal Daura, to brief it on the issue.

This call failed as the lawmakers voted against it after three voice vote sessions.

Sen. Chukwuka Utazi (PDP, Enugu North) said that the action of the security operatives was wrong and would go a long way to give the nation a bad name in the international community.

He said that it was condemnable to invade the house of any Nigerian, let alone serving judges.

He said, “This should not have happened even under an unguarded dictatorship, let alone a democracy; enough is now more than enough.”

In his contribution, Deputy Majority Leader, Ibn Na’Allah, said that Nigerians supported the change agenda because of the promise to fight corruption.

He said that the senate was committed to supporting the Federal Government to fight corruption, but stressed that it must be done within the ambit of the law.

Na’Allah said the NJC should have been left to do its job and the senate should be careful in condemning the DSS.

For Sen. Godswill Akpabio, Minority Leader of the Senate, the nation should not destroy the principles of separation of power.

He said, “We know there is separation of power; we must bear in mind the need for the survival of democracy and our perception in the international community.

“We must be careful of the kind of image we give to the judiciary; it is difficult for a former governor to be respected outside this country because everybody believes that all former governors are thieves.

“If we carry that toga, everybody will lose confidence in the judiciary.

“Even if there is corruption, it should be handled carefully so that it does not jeopardise internal security.”

In all, the red chamber condemned the actions of the DSS, and said that they went against the rule of law of the land.

It mandated its Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to review all existing laws that deal with the security agencies and bring them in line with the tenets of democracy.

The committee was charged to report back in four weeks.

Although the upper chamber expressed support to Federal Government’s anti-corruption fight, it said it was wrong for DSS to have carried out the arrest with conferring with the NJC.

It noted that the NJC is statutorily responsible for disciplining judges and other judicial workers.

In his remark, the President of the Senate, Sen. Bukola Saraki, said that the chamber was totally in support of the fight against corruption, especially in the judicial system.

He said, “We must eradicate corruption in all spheres of our society and this is a matter that we must pursue.

“I think the National Assembly has been playing its role to continue to support government in the fight against corruption.

“We must ensure that this fight against corruption is within the rule of law; any act of anti-corruption that goes against the rule of law does not help the corruption fight.

“That is why this action has been seen in this manner, and it is condemned by the Senate and all agencies of government must ensure that they act within the rule of law.”


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