Supreme Court Judges Arrest By The DSS & The Real Colour Of Truth By First Baba Isa

judges arrested by the dss

Oct 13, 2016 – The Real Truth About The DSS Arrest & Sting Operation Against Supreme Court Judges

Supreme Court Judges Arrest By The DSS & The Real Colour Of Truth By First Baba Isa

A lot of people have approached this issue like we always approach everything: it’s either Arsenal or Chelsea, APC or PDP, Black or White, Yes or No, Right or Left… but as Aristotle will say, “Virtue resides in the centre, all others at the extremes are vices.”

We need to stop and realize that most times progress and national interest is not in the right or left but in the middle; most times truth is not white or black but a shade of grey. My stance is a little bit of there and here…

Assuming and even partially conceding they are corrupt… Yes, the DSS has tons of evidence against them… Is this the proper way to arrest a justice of the Supreme Court or a judge? Even when a man is sentenced to death, there is a proper way to kill him. If a man has been sentenced to die by hanging, you can’t just take him out and gather your family members to stone him to death.

Someone might argue that dying is dying and killing is killing. But such a submission will be bereft of legality and logic. So, sir, stop waiting for whether they will come out squeaky clean. Even if they don’t come out clean, the procedure adopted by the SSS is faulty prima facie; please note that I didn’t say illegal, we will come to that.

There are salient and noble reasons why procedures for investigating and punishing erring judicial officers are put in place. And one of the reasons is so that the bench should not be shamed and demystified, for want of a better word. A judge should first be removed as a judge before he should be arrested and made to stand criminal trial.

Once a judge, like every other person, is arrested for a crime, the Constitutional presumption of innocence kicks in, meaning such a judge will most likely be released on bail and he continues to be a judge, presiding over cases, while attending his trial. And most of those cases the judge who was arrested by the DSS, the judge standing trial and prosecuted by the DSS, will be brought and prosecuted by the same prosecutors, the DSS. In other words, his prosecutors will be appearing before him as a judge to prosecute other cases. Can you imagine that?

That is why a procedure is put in place to first remove these erring judges through the instrumentality of the National Judicial Council before they are arrested and prosecuted. It is not because they are better than the rest of us, it is for the sanity of the system.

Procedural law is the fuel that drives substantive law to birth justice. You cannot copulate procedural law in the mouth and expect substantive law to birth justice… That might be a waste of national and administrative sperm!

But what if this faulty procedure leads to an unraveling of heavy corruption… As might already be unfolding? Should will throw away the truth because the procedure was faulty? Is the sting operation even illegal? This is where the truth begin to take the colour of grey. Not white. Not black.

I have already stated in clear language that there is procedure of disciplining erring judges. The National Judicial Council is saddled with this responsibility. This is an admirable procedure for the reasons I gave above. But here I am, perusing the Third Schedule, Part 1, Paragraph 20-22, that establishes and outlines the function and powers of the National Judicial Council and I can’t see anywhere here, where it is expressly stated or remotely implied that because of the existence of the NJC, our law enforcement agents cannot arrest a judge for an alleged crime. If you have seen it, please show me.

The NJC as a body is not even empowered to remove a judge, they only recommend a certain punishment to the executive arm of Government to be meted out to the erring judges. So nothing prevents the executive arm of Government from enforcing the law against judges suspected of committing crimes. “The National Judicial Commission (NJC) is responsible for the appointment, discipline/punishment of judicial officers only in respect of breach of judicial ethics, and not crime. Even where a judicial officer has been sanctioned by the NJC for any misconduct, the state still reserves the right to prosecute the erring officer if his misconduct amounts to a crime.”

A corrupt judge cannot be allowed to hide under the procedural cloud of the NJC to evade arrest. We cannot sacrifice justice and the fight against corruption in the judiciary on the altar of decorum.

Breaking down doors and arresting judges in the middle of the night is not the decorous thing to do, infact it is shocking and disgusting but that it is shocking and disgusting doesn’t make it illegal; thus inputting illegality to the DSS operation is nothing but grand mischief designed to tell an already story or play out a script.

The DSS executed their search/arrest warrant as empowered under the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 (ACJA). Section 144 provides for the issuance of search warrant and this warrant may also empower the officer to arrest. Section 148 of the ACJA states clearly “A search warrant may be issued and executed at any time on any day, including a Sunday or Public Holiday.” So those saying it is illegal to arrest them by 1:00 am in the morning are talking out of their imagination and not within the purview of our extant law.

I never thought a day will come when I will see the door of a Supreme Court Justice broken down to effect his arrest. But that day came. But as sad as I am, I will not allow my emotions prevent me from showing us what the law says in this regard. Section 149 (1) of the ACJA states that: “Where any building liable to be search is closed, a person residing in or being in charge of the building, thing or place, shall on demand of the police officer or other person executing the search warrant, allow him free and unhindered access to it and afford all reasonable facilities for its search.” And when unhindered access is denied, what happens?

Go and do a community reading of Sections 9, 10, 12, 13 and 149 (2) of the ACJA and you will see that a law enforcement agent executing a search warrant and/or arrest warrant is empowered to “break open any outer or inner door or window of any house or place” where unhindered access is denied. So if the suspects (judges) denied the agents unhindered access, sad as it is, the hacking down of the door is lawful.

Now to the point of whether the DSS has the statutory responsibility to carry out the raid. A very senior lawyer even claimed that he has read the Act establishing the DSS and nothing therein empowers them to arrest the Judges. Really? Let’s see for ourselves.

Have you forgotten the SSS Instrument 1, promulgated by General Abdulsalam Abubakar? This instrument was promulgated pursuant to the powers conferred on the Head of State by Section 6 of the National Security Agencies Act (the Act that created the DSS). Section 3(1) SSS Instrument 1 states that: “For the purpose of facilitating the discharge of its function under this instrument, personnel of the State Security Service are hereby conferred with the power of Superior Police Officer in respect of searches and arrests”

And before you accuse me of quoting a law made by the military, this instrument has been anointed by section 315 (5)(C) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria; and what the Constitution has blessed no man can curse.

Section 12 of Police Act defines a Police Officer to include, “any officer of an equivalent rank in other security agencies” Section 7 of the same Act states unequivocally that, “police officers, custom officers, any member of the Armed forces and Security Agencies can arrest without warrant, any person committing an offence prescribed by law”. So I don’t know where some persons conjured the submission that a DSS operative cannot arrest.

We all feel bad about the arrest but the arrest is lawful. I don’t want to belong to a profession where judges are hounded, intimidated and arrested like common suspects by security agents; but I don’t also want to belong to a profession where judges sell justice like yams in a bazaar to the highest bidder.

I want the law enforcement agents to hold off until a judge has been disciplined by the NJC before they can make arrest and prosecute but if the NJC is glossing over petitions, being tardy and letting off corrupt judges with a slap on the wrist then by all means let the law enforcement agents swoop on the judges.

Break down the door if you must but by all means stop corruption on the bench. I am a young lawyer and the law is my life. I burn the midnight candle to be the best for my clients and to get to the apex of this profession but my hard work won’t stand a chance before a corrupt judge who sells justice like oranges.

But don’t just break the doors of judges, break the doors of some ministers, break the doors of some legislators, break the doors of some politicians, break the doors of some military officers, break the doors of some law enforcement agents, break the doors of some activists… go on, break doors; maybe we will have enough wood from the broken doors to build the broken fabric of our nation.

About the author: First Baba Isa (FBI) is a Legal Practitioner and the President of Lawyers For Peace Initiative; he writes from Abuja @firstbabaisa 07037162029, [email protected]

6 thoughts on “Supreme Court Judges Arrest By The DSS & The Real Colour Of Truth By First Baba Isa

  1. I always appreciate when professionals or specialist come out like this to explain and break down all these professional jargons use to deceive others that are not in such profession, tanz bro.

  2. The idea of breaking doors at 1.00am……. 1.00 am when last I checked is still night and dark……. And I doubt it tallies with best practices regarding arrests. In the current insecurity experienced everywhere in Nigeria, breaking down anybody’s door at that ungodly hour is akin to an act of terrorism. We’re the Judges invited and failed to answer the invitation by DSS ?
    The people who put in place the idea of protection for judges know the nature of the job. It appears to me to be a job that with every judgment a judge delivers he makes an enemy of the side the judgment did not favour. When you add the spate of kidnappings, armed robbery, general human hatred and cussedness prevalent in the society these days it will throw some light on why common sense should guide all actions, even arrests.
    When something is wrong you must admit it and let effort at correction be made in future instances otherwise hoodlums will hide under cover of law enforcement and uniform to perpetrate mischief and justify same. Just saying though !!!

  3. FBI IS one man I always enjoy reading. This guy knows his job. I pray I never have a court case. But should it come up, I would ring him without hesitation.

    BUT TO SAY what I have known—or made to believe—before now, it is unlawful to arrest anybody between the hours of 9pm–5am, something like that. The only exception is if the suspect is for murder. From this, I could only infer that this arrest is not only faulty, but illegal, except I had not been properly informed.

  4. I still maintained that their are procedures in carrying out arrest of suspected corrupt persons especially one that involved judges.

    Even though the DSS like every other police agencies has been mandated by law to carry out arrest of any person that has violated the national law,my question is,why would the DSS bypassed the NJC to carry out such arrest of judges? Were the judges summoned by the NJC and they refused to comply? The fact is that the DSS cannot play the role of a prosecutor as well as play the role of the Judiciary. You don’t arrest,investigate,prosecute and judge all at ones.

    And of course this is where the rule of law comes in. Their are rules and laws that is meant to guide every action of departments, government agencies and public bodies. NJC- the constitutional and statutory body entrusted with the task of sanctioning any erring judges and sanitizing the judicial department by stripping a confirmed corrupt judges of his qualification and recommend or hand over such corrupt person to either DSS,SSS,EFCC or police officers for appropriate prosecution. It is when such invitation by NJC is not respected or honored by the suspected corrupt judges, then we can now see the DSS rise to action.
    Understandably,the DSS action must have been initiated due to prior intelligent report of bribery they’ve gathered about those judges. Now,what if after breaking into those judges home and evidences of corruption-related practises or offences is not found? Then the DSS mission of speedily breaking into peoples home without due procedure would have looked unproductive and more senseless. The DSS don’t have to rubbish and disregard the laid down rules for fighting corruption in the judiciary because of unscrupulous, unpatriotic,corrupt and unethical behaviour of some judges in the system. We have to respect each offices and their mandate before exercising our right.

    The fact is that the minister of justice and the Attorney general of the federation AGF in collaboration with the federal government have to issue a statement announcing that their must be cooperation among the security agencies,EFCC,ICPC and the judiciary to fitch out any corrupt judges that is undermining the dispensation of justice in the country. Rather than the swift and independent action and lack of regard for the NJC by the DSS,SSS and other security agencies in the country,their must be a unified effort in bringing more corrupt judges to stand trial.

    Just as you’ve also stated,the legislative arm of government has to be visited. The senate members and the house of rep has to be touched in like manner but within the confinement of the stipulated law when carrying out such a raid. Discipline and sanity need to be brought back to the judiciary.

  5. First Baba is just a Compound Fool for writing this kind of piece, Criminals who Collected Bribes as the Custodians of the Law in Nigeria should be Treated like Celebrities for Breaking the Law that they Swore to stand for, but if it where to be a Common Man you be the the first to shout Crucify him, Because he is a Lame Man.

  6. This article has no meaning. Justice department is the last hope for common man and if the people who are suppose to protect us are the one behind the breaking down of law and order, I don’t care whatever method applied to expose them. They should even be treated worst because they know better. I’m so surprise that some people can be supporting them after their hands have been caught inside the cooking jar.

    Even this writer said even though they have all these evidences against them common why are you talking from both side of your mouth. Don’t you know that the consequence of their corruption is what we have been suffering from. Because they are too big to fail that is why we should have 2 laws one for the poor and other for supreme judges. They cannot even explain why those Dollars found in their mansion got there and we all know their salary. Following the rule of law is only going to lead to an unending investigations unless if we want to deceive ourselves.

    How many of these thieves have been prosecuted under the rule of law yet you kept saying according to federal constitution paragraph nonsense a judge must not be bursted until they inform him so that he can have all the time to hide the evidence. Are you kidding me? The only person ever convicted of corruption is James Ibori and his case was never tried in Nigeria. Ibori will be working a free man today if he is in Nigeria.

    Sting operation have been used in developed Countries by those who wrote these constitution for you. They have used it to solve complex cases like this. Until we can stop this sentiment and be honest among ourselves, Nigeria will be far from realizing its objectives. For the fact they were Judges does not indicate they were immuned from prosecution under the same law binding all of us. How do we want to experience a change if you all are biased in your opinion?.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *