The raid carried out by the Department of State Security Services (DSS) on private homes of four supreme court judges in River State and other states on Friday and Saturday has been condemned in strong terms by the Nigerian Bar Association.
The president of the association, Abubakar Mahmoud spoke while addressing the press in the midst of the rising tension over the matter in Lagos late Saturday, October 8, 2016, declaring that the DSS abused its powers in the arrest of the alleged judges.
Naij reported that while speaking on the development, Mahmoud, who was with some senior lawyers including Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), Dr Olisa Agbakoba (SAN); Mr. JB Daudu (SAN); Augustine Alegeh (SAN); Prof Kayinsola Ajayi (SAN); Mr Yusuf Ali (SAN); Mr Dele Adesina (SAN), aand others, said the Inyang Okoro and Sylvester Ngwuta, the two arrested Supreme Court judges, were actually abducted with their families.
The Punch reports that Mahmoud, who said the DSS had no powers to arrest sitting judges, condemned the action of the DSS and constituted an emergency or crisis management team to include past NBA presidents. He called on President Muhammadu Buhari to order the immediate release of the judges adding that if the call was not heeded, the NBA would determine its next line of action.
“I want to emphasise again that we are not under military rule and we cannot accept this unholy event and Gestapo-style operation.
“We, therefore, call on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately caution all the state security agencies and to respect the rule of law and to respect due process.
“Any issues affecting the judicial officers, there are established procedures for handling them and we demand that this constitutional process must be obeyed.
“Given the unfolding nature of the event and the seriousness of the situation, the NBA hereby declares a state of emergency as it affects the affairs of the judiciary and I hereby constitute a crisis management team, comprising all past presidents of the association.
“I want to, on behalf of the association, make the very following clear and unequivocal demands: we demand the immediate and unconditional release of all the judges abducted from about 9pm yesterday (Friday). “The release must be done immediately and without any conditions. Two, we demand that the Department of State Services should limit itself to its statutory and constitutional responsibilities. “I’ll be meeting with the CJN later tonight or tomorrow. There will be consequences should these demands are not met,” Mahmoud said.
This is just the beginning of this drama as we are sure of witnessing more events in coming days.