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SSS Releases Detained Judges as NJC Meets

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The State Security Service on Monday released all the judges arrested during a nationwide anti-corruption sweep between Friday and Saturday, PREMIUM TIMES can report.

The SSS had between Friday Night and early Saturday conducted what it described as a “sting operation,” which culminated in the arrest of seven judges across six states.

Supreme Court judges, Inyang Okoro and Sylvester Ngwuta, were arrested in Abuja. Federal High Court judges, Adeniyi Ademola and Mohammed Tsamiya, were also arrested in Abuja.

Others arrested included Kabir Auta, Kano; Muazu Pindiga, Gombe; and Innocent Umezulike in Enugu.

The operatives were also involved in a botched attempt to arrest another judge in Port Harcourt.

Security sources in the agency said all the seven judges were released on self-recognition while agents prepare charges for their arraignment.

“They were all released on bail yesterday (Sunday) on self-recognition,” one of our sources said. “They reported this morning (Monday) and they have all gone back home. They will be coming back tomorrow. And everything went very procedurally well and civil.

Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mahmud Mohammed; Photo: Mahmud Mohammed
Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mahmud Mohammed; Photo: Mahmud Mohammed

“They were released on bail on self-recognition based on the fact that given their standing in the society, they cannot run away. They were instructed that they should come back today by 10:00 a.m.

“They did report for investigation this morning and they have gone back home. And the investigation continues and preparation to charge them to court.”

The development dashed expectations that the judges would be charged to court as stated by the SSS following their arrest.

Dozens of spectators, including reporters and lawyers, were camped outside a  Chief Magistrate’s Court in Life Camp, Abuja, where the judges were expected to be arraigned.

Adegboyega Awomolo, a Senior advocate of Nigeria, was amongst those who remained in the court premises until 4:00 p.m. when judicial workers closed for the day.

The SSS in a statement Saturday said the nocturnal operation yielded recoveries of huge sums of money denominated in different currencies, including the U.S. dollars, euros and British pounds, which it intended to use as evidence when charging the judges.

Opinions remained divided in the wake of the unprecedented crackdown.

While many argued that the SSS had no powers to conduct such a large-scale operation against an independent arm of government; others alleged pervasive corruption on the part of judges and justified the crackdown.

SSS sources also blamed a “lack of cooperation by the National Judicial Council, such as refusal by the NJC to allow the affected persons to be questioned by the DSS.”

Investigation started some seven months ago, precisely in April 2016, a source said.

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mahmud Mohammed, on Monday condemned the raids and said the NJC will meet on Today Tuesday to give a formal position on the actions of the SSS.‎

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