Anti-Corruption War

Anti-corruption war: Lawyers okay investigation of arrested judges

*Advocate rule of law in carrying out actions

Reactions have continued to trail the arrest and detention of two Justices of the Supreme Court and a Federal High Court judge by the Department of State Service, DSS, over corruption allegations.

Some legal practitioners, including Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SANs, who spoke to a national daily on the matter, spoke from different mindsets.

Where some said the DSS action was a slap on the rule of law, others said the judges could be exempted from investigation since, according to them, the DSS could not have been acting without prior information.

One of the lawyers who spoke, said, “The action the DSS took against these judges was very bad. It is not good at all. You cannot go and arrest a judge in his house at 1am. This is not a military era.

“Nobody is saying that if a judge committed an offence that he should not be questioned. We operate a democratic system that is based on the principle of the rule of law. Going to waylay judicial officers in their home around 1am cannot be an example of the rule of law in action. It is not done in any civilised society.

“If there is anything against the judges, they should petition the National Judicial Council or write to heads of the court for action to be taken.

“What the DSS did is in clear breach of separation of powers and laid down procedure for doing things. It was an invasion of the judges’ right to privacy”.

Mahmud Magaji, SAN, reportedly said: “Recently the NJC suspended three judges and even handed one over to the police for prosecution. However, in the present circumstance, the best thing at this moment is not to comment”.

Another lawyer, Kayode Ajulo, was also reported to have said that, “If the judges flouted the law, nothing stops them from being investigated. What I am however not comfortable with is their trial in the media.

“The DSS have the powers to conduct sting operations. It is done even in the advanced countries. So far that procedure was followed, it is allowed.

“Sting operations have its own procedure. This is why in my opinion I think the position the Nigerian Bar Association took on the issue was too hasty.

“If the judges did anything wrong they should be investigated. I am part of the people that believe that our judiciary should be cleansed.

“The DSS must have acted on information they received. In our criminal Act, there are times you can arrest people without a warrant, one of such example is if an offence is committed in your presence.

“It all depends on the circumstance. However, no matter the circumstance, the law must be allowed to follow its due course”, he added.

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