Judges’ Arrest: Former British Cop Berates Execution Of ‘Sting Operation’

vince-onyekwelu-judges-arrestThe arrest of some court judges by a combined team of Police and DSS officials in the early hours of Saturday, October 8 has continued to generate reactions.

While various judicial stakeholders have criticised the government for the arrest, a former British police officer, Vince Onyekwelu, has picked holes in the level of expertise displayed by the DSS during its execution of the operation.

The security analyst told Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily how the arrest should have been carried out, since it was believed to be a sting operation.

“We have to understand (that) one of the major concepts of a sting operation is deceit.

“When you talk about deceit, sting operations are planned to have this element of propaganda, element of treachery, element of ‘make believe’ (and) element of trying to deceive a potential criminal,” he explained.

Outer Shell

Speaking on Thursday’s edition of the programme, Onyekwelu expressed disappointment that Governor Nyesom Wike was able to interrupt the arrest of one of the judges at his residence in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.

He stressed the importance of the strategy that ought to be used and questioned if the security operatives were capable and competent to carry out such operation.

“For example, there is what we call ‘the outer shell’.

“You have to block the entrance (and) position men at critical areas.

“It makes me to ask questions how come the Governor had access to go through this outer shell (and) come to the epicentre that he was able to influence what was going on there.

“You’re supposed to have an outer shell that is well-trained to contain and to stop any kind of politically exposed person that have got so much power.

“He (Wike) can tell you his concerns (while) you record them in your notebook and promise to get back to him in the next 24 hours, but not to give him access to influence what is going on,” he stated.

Although the DSS later justified its action by giving reasons for the arrest, the operation attracted criticisms from several notable Nigerians and professional bodies, including the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) which asked the executive to release of the detained court justices.

femi-falana-speaks
Human rights activist, Mr Femi Falana

Human rights activist, Mr Femi Falana, however, blamed legal practitioners for the harassment of judges.

The agency subsequently released all the judges on self-recognition one day after their arrest but they are to report at the agency’s office when requested to, as the investigation and preparation to charge them to court continue.

The judges are accused of misconduct, corruption and had been under investigation by the DSS.

Judges Arrest: I Have No Objection To DSS’ Action – Abu Hamisu

Dr. Abu Hamisu, As reactions continue to trail the arrest of some judges over the weekend, a lecturer at the University of Abuja, Dr. Abu Hamisu, says he has no objection with the involvement of the Department of State Services (DSS) in the arrest.

The lecturer at the Political Science Department is of the opinion that if the government feels the DSS could play a crucial role in its anti-corruption campaign, there is nothing wrong with it.

“We’ve been advocating for collaboration and synergy building in such a way that all the security agencies can tap into the professionalism of one another depending on the case they want to prosecute.

“If (the) EFCC, ICPC and the government of the day feel that the DSS can be really decisive in the fight against corruption in this country, I have nothing against that,” the political scientist said.

Speaking on Tuesday on Sunrise Daily, Dr. Hamisu believes corruption is the cause of Nigeria’s underdeveloped stage, reiterating his stance on the DSS’ involvement.

“The most important thing is to ensure that corruption is really dealt with because the basis of our underdevelopment as a nation up to this very moment is corruption.

“For me, it’s something that has to do with those that are leading us and if they feel that they can give us result and DSS can play a role in this, I have no objection,” he insisted.

The academic warned that the future of the Nigerian child was at risk and called on stakeholders to tackle its menace headlong to ensure a brighter future.

“All we want is to ensure that we have a better future for our children.

“The future that we did not enjoy, the future that corruption denied us because some people were saddled with responsibilities that they abused and perverted,” he lamented.

Face-off With Wike

Dr. Hamisu’s remarks followed a face-off between the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike and some DSS officials who were on an assignment to arrest a Federal High Court judge in Port Harcourt.

Nyesom-Wike-Governor-of-Rivers-State
Governor Nyesom Wike prevented the arrest of a judge in Rivers State

On getting wind of the planned arrest, Governor Wike went to the residence of the judge with the aim of averting the arrest.

He stated that it would not be appropriate to arrest a judge at an odd hour when he has not been declared as a criminal, but invited to have a chat which they said was the motive of the arrest.

The arrest caught the attention of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) which asked the executive to release of the judge and some order court justices.

While a human rights activist, Mr Femi Falana, blames legal practitioners for harassment of judges, the DSS gave reasons for the arrest.

The DSS subsequently released all the judges on self-recognition.

However, they are to report at the agency’s office when requested to, as the investigation and preparation to charge them to court continue.

The judges are accused of misconduct corruption and had been under investigation by the DSS.

NBA Demands Immediate Release Of Arrested Judges

Abubakar-Mahmoud-NBA-PresidentThe Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has declared a state of emergency in the judiciary over the midnight arrest of some judges by the Department of State Services (DSS).

The association is also asking the DSS to immediately release the judges without conditions.

It says the arrests are disturbing and unconstitutional, describing it a situation that had never been witnessed.

The DSS had earlier said that the judges were arrested for alleged corruption cases, with a summary of monies recovered from the judges.

The President of the NBA, Mr Abubakar Mahmoud, at a briefing in Lagos, warned the Federal Government of “grave consequences” should the demands not be met.

Mr Mahmoud said two Supreme Court justices, Inyang Okoro and Sylvester Ngwuta, were “abducted” with their families.

Not Under Military Rule

He said: “I want to, on behalf of the Bar Association, make the very following clear and unequivocal demands.

“We demand the immediate, unconditional release of all the judges abducted from about 9:00pm yesterday (Friday).

“The release must be done immediately and without any conditions.

“We demand that the Department of State Services (DSS) should limit itself to its statutory and constitutional responsibilities.

“It is not the responsibility of the DSS to perform duties meant for police officers and other agencies of the state.

“I want to emphasise again that we are not under military rule and we cannot accept this ‘unholy events’ and this ‘gestapo style of operations’.

“We therefore call on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately call all the state security agencies to order and to respect the rule of law and due process.

“Any issue affecting the judicial officers, there are established processes and to edited for handling them and we demand that these constitutional processes must be obeyed”.

“Given the unfolding nature of the events and the seriousness of the situation, the NBA hereby declares a state of emergency as it affects the affairs of the judiciary”.

Attempt To Intimidate

Mr Mahmoud further stressed that the NBA considered the arrests as unconstitutional, as it was a very blatant attempt to intimidate the judiciary, undermined the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession.

“It is unacceptable to the legal profession and I will meet with the Chief Justice of the Nigeria tonight or tomorrow,” he stated.

The association also set up a Crisis Management Team comprising the association’s past presidents and general secretaries to investigate the situation.

At the briefing were former NBA presidents Mr Wole Olanipekun, Olisa Agbakoba, Joseph Daudu, Augustine Alegeh, bar leaders, Yusuf Ali, Kemi Pinheiro, Koyinsola Ajayi, former NBA General Secretary, Dele Adesina and current NBA second Vice President, Onyekachi Ubani among others.

Nigerian, South African Lawyers Discuss Needed Laws Reform

lawyers on needed laws reformsLawyers from Nigeria and South Africa are exploring ways of advancing global best practices to ensure easy access to justice.

Both nations’ lawyers held a meeting on Wednesday in South Africa.

Members of the Nigerian Bar Association are in South Africa on a legal services trade mission to share ideas and collaborate with their colleagues on practical areas of growth between the two countries.

At the meeting, participants observed that states with poorly functioning legal systems and poor crime control are generally considered to be unattractive to investors.

 

Nigerian business men and other individuals, who have practical experiences of some of the challenges, spoke out about issues of immigration, Labour & other laws, discrimination and even the xenophobic attacks.

A Representative of the South African Ministry of Trade, Wamkele Mene, was, however, quick to explain the investor protection laws available.

He also stressed that the move to reduce borders on the African continent was currently being implemented.

At the end of meeting, the participants agreed to inaugurate a Nigeria-South Africa Lawyers Forum to share expertise on addressing the issues.

 

The meeting largely focused on needed input by lawyers to enable their countries meet development targets for poverty reduction.

They were of the opinion that eradicating poverty from Africa required that African governments develop the capacity to ensure safety, security and access to justice for all.

According to them, the reform of law, order and justice systems is only possible if governments and the public at large accept that reform is key to achieving economic growth.

The Nigerian lawyers also believe that it should be at the forefront of leading discourse on this issues within countries, a situation that triggered the meeting between the two nations.

At the meeting were Nigerian lawyers led by the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Augustine Alegeh, South African lawyers, Facilitator, NBA Legal Services Trade Mission to SA, Wale Fapohunda and Acting Chief Director, Africa Bilateral Economic Relations, Department of Trade and Industry in South Africa, Lebogang Makoloi among others.

The Nigerian Lawyers also visited law firms and key justice institutions in South Africa with a view to identify best practices and share policy framework relevant to Nigeria.

FG Restates Commitment To Fight Against Corruption

Muhammadu-Buhari-meet-State-House-correspondents-in-AbujaThe Federal Government has reaffirmed it’s commitment t‎o the fight against corruption with a vow to investigate, arrest and prosecute anyone who dip his hands in the coffers of the state to enrich himself.

Speaking at a State of the Nation conference organized by the Nigerian Bar Association, the Secretary of the Presidential Committee on Anti-Corruption, Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, said 21 out of 36 states are technically insolvent largely due to corruption.

He warns those who take delight in shielding ‎corrupt persons to retrace their steps as the federal government’s fight against corruption is a holistic one which will not spare anyone.

The Chairman of the NBA Committee on the administration of justice‎ advocated speedy trial of criminal cases just as a member of the House of Representatives, Lynda Ikpeazu, announced plans by the legislature to amend the EFCC and ICPC Act.

The President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Augustine Alegeh, advised the Federal Government to take steps to arrest issues of security and the economy.

Channels Television’s Lucky Isawode, reports that the one-day event, which ‎aims at reviewing one year of democracy under President Muhammadu Buhari was focused on the rule of law, economic growth, security and the war against corruption.

IGP Tasks Police Lawyers On Diligent Prosecution Of Cases

Solomon-Arase-police-IGPThe Inspector General of Police in Nigeria has asked lawyers in the Police Force to effectively discharge their responsibility of guiding investigators in the gathering, preservation and presentation of evidence in order to ensure a diligent prosecution of cases.

In a speech delivered in Abuja on Wednesday at the 2016 IGP Annual Police Lawyers Conference, Mr Solomon Arase said the inability of police lawyers to effectively assume their role in the policing space had contributed to the high rate of failure of investigation and prosecution of cases.

He said that the conference was a sought of continuous education programme that provided a platform for police lawyers to interact with the Nigerian Bar Association and some retired officers who had legal background.

“There is going to be an exchange of ideas and training for officers who are there.

“There are specific issues we want to talk about.

“Healthy respect for human right, garnishing of our account and how to treat criminal cases.

“It is an annual thing and we have succeeded in having a lawyer forum that can speak for lawyers within the Nigerian Police Force,” he told reporters on the sideline of the event.

The President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Augustine Alegeh, who also spoke at the event before inaugurating the NBA, Police Lawyers Forum stressed the need for security agencies to assist in enforcing the speedy administration of criminal justice by concluding investigations before taking suspects to court‎.

He said that the forum would provide the first line of contact with the police.

“All policemen are charged with law enforcement and the first in law enforcement is to know the law and we believe that the policemen we have in the force should be touch bearers.

“They should be the leaders of the entire force in ensuring that there is full compliance with provisions of the law,” he said.

NBA Restates Readiness To Partner Government, Agencies In Corruption Fight

NBAThe Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has expressed its  readiness to work, partner with the government and willing agencies in the on-going corruption war.

President of the association, Augustine Alegeh, while reinstating the association’s commitment towards the fight against corruption and corrupt practices in the nation, stated that the fight against corruption should be approached and tackled within the ambit of the law without infringing or breaching any fundamental rights or breaking the law of the land and will also ensure the delivery of justice to all and sundry.

The Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, and the Local Organising Committee Chairman, Solomon Umoh, both expressed concerns over the conduct of lawyers believing that members of the profession are currently under scrutiny, especially now that the war against corruption has been intensified by the Buhari administration.

CJN Lashes Out At Critics Of Judicial Officers

JudiciaryThe Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Mahmud Mohammed, has referred to those calling the judicial officers corrupt as being inconsiderate and ignorant of how the judiciary operates.

Justice Mohammed, who is retiring from the judiciary after 38 years of service made the observation on Wednesday in Abuja while speaking at a special valedictory session held in his honour.

According to the CJN, such criticisms are made without due considerations of the law and the system of government in Nigeria.

He said that the judiciary is duty bound to act and would continue to act in accordance with the dictates of the law as it stands and not as its critics would want it to be.

Lending his voice, to the  position of the CJN, the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Augustine Alegeh, also condemned in strong terms, the criticism of the Nigerian judiciary.

The NBA President also described the act as ‘a deliberate attempt to disparage the judiciary’.

Nigerian Lawyers Pledge Support For Buhari’s Anti-corruption Fight

NBAThe Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) has promised to work with President Muhammadu Buhari to stamp out corruption.

While briefing reporters on Friday, after a meeting of the association held in Abuja, the President of the NBA, Mr Augustine Alegeh, said that the decision was part of the resolutions reached by the bar association at the end of its 55th Annual General Meeting.

According to Mr Alegeh, the issues discussed by the association at the meeting include corruption and the petroleum sub-sector of the economy.

When the NBA conference was declared open on Sunday, President Buhari urged lawyers to use their profession to help ensure justice in Nigeria and the success of the fight against corruption.

Apart from the issues of corruption, the lawyers also pushed for a quick amendment and passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill and removal of Fuel Subsidy.

The 55th Annual General Conference of the NBA deliberated on several issues including corruption, funding of the judiciary and the petroleum industry.

It is hoped that the resolutions reached would create the desired reforms that were canvassed during the conference.

Former NBA President, Okey Wali Kidnapped

Okey WaliThe immediate past president of the Nigerian Bar Association, Okey Wali, SAN was kidnapped on Saturday, by unknown persons in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

Though details of the incident which occurred at about 9pm are sketchy, the NBA has confirmed it.

In a press release signed by the current president of the association, Augustine Alegeh, SAN, the NBA described the development as shocking.

“Alegeh said “The Nigerian Bar Association has just received shocking news that the 26th President of the NBA, Okey Wali, SAN was on Saturday 11th October, 2014 at about 9pm kidnapped by unknown persons in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

“Okey Wali SAN is a man of peace who has not only contributed immensely to the enthronement of rule of law and protection of human rights, but also to the development of our Nation. It is therefore saddening that he should become a kidnap victim

“The NBA calls on the Federal Government to step up efforts to fulfill its primary constitutional role of providing for the welfare and security of all Nigerians even as It passionately appealed to the abductors for his immediate and safe release to his family”.