One year after its inauguration, the report of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, has come out with its recommendations.
In its report from August 2015 to July 2016, the Executive Secretary, Bolaji Owasanoye, highlighted areas of concentration.
Amongst are the things that the committee maps out as sentencing guidelines for high profile cases where huge monies are trapped.
He decried the amount of monies that the Nigerian government has lost to such cases and its effect on the economy.
“If we do simple arithmetic of all those high profile cases, just add the sums and see how much you will come up with, it will be far above two trillion and because the state has not recovered the money, we will see the effect on the economy,” he said.
The chairman of the committee, Professor Itse Sagay, also added that Nigeria needs an upright judiciary without which the nation’s democracy would collapse.
The sudden raid of the houses of some judges by the DSS and the subsequent arrest of the judicial officers drew a plethora of reactions recently.
But Professor Sagay described the anti-corruption campaign of the President as right, while describing the criticism from Nigerians as totally wrong and shocking.
“We need the judiciary but we need an upright judiciary. Without that, one arm of government will collapse and democracy will collapse.
“Let us think of the implication of what is going on. If we don’t put the judiciary right or have a judiciary in which we have confidence, with integrity and honour, with moral authority, then we have no government and we have no democracy,” he said.
The 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.
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.
Lawyers, especially the senior ones are responsible for the rot in the judicial system. That is the view of a professor of law, Itsey Sagay.
In an exclusive interview with Channels Television, Professor Sagay said that the senior lawyers corrupted the judges and are largely responsible for the corruption in the system.
He condemned the reaction of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), saying the body lacked the moral premise to criticize the activities of the DSS which he said is lawful.
On whether the National Judicial Council has the capabilities to deal with the corruption in the bench, the law professor said that the NJC lacks the capacity because it is an emergency situation which demands unusual approach.
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.
The Department of State Service, DSS has released all the judges arrested during a nationwide raid of their residents at the weekend.
The judges, according to DSS sources were released on self-recognition but are to report at the agency’s office when requested to, as the investigation and preparation to charge them to court continue.
The judges were accused of corruption and had been under investigation by the DSS.
A spokesman for the DSS, Abdullahi Garba, explained shortly after the raid on Saturday that the service embarked on raids of the Supreme, Appeal and High Courts judges’ residents based on allegations of corruption and other acts of professional misconduct.
According to him, “the Service action is in line with its core mandate, as we have been monitoring the expensive and luxurious lifestyle of some of the Judges as well as complaints from the concerned public over judgment obtained fraudulently and on the basis of amounts of money paid.
“The judges involved were invited, upon which due diligence was exhibited and their premises searched.
“The searches have uncovered huge raw cash of various denominations, local and foreign currencies, with real estate worth several millions of Naira and documents affirming unholy acts by these Judges”.
The DSS spokesman further explained that some of the judges had made useful statements while a few declined even with the glaring evidences that were found against them in terms of material cash, documents and property recovered pointing to their compromise.
“In one of the States where the Service operations were conducted, credible intelligence revealed that the Judge had Two Million United States Dollars ($2,000,000 USD) stashed in his house.
“When he was approached for due search to be conducted, he in concert with the State Governor, mobilised thugs against the Service team.
“The team restrained itself in the face of unbridled provocative activities by those brought in by the Governor.
“Unfortunately, the Judge and Governor also engaged the tacit support of a sister security agency.
“The Service surveillance team noticed that upon frustrating the operation, the Judge with the active support of the Governor craftily moved the money to an unknown location which the Service is currently making effort to unravel,” the statement read, remaining silent about who the governor was.
The State Governor, Mr Nyesom Wike, on getting wind of the plan to arrest a Federal High Court judge in the state went to the residence of the judge with the aim of averting the arrest.
Narrating the situation to newsmen in the state, Governor Wike said: “It appeared to be an attempt to kidnap some people, so I told my security details to arrange security for us to move to the place.
“We got here 10 minutes after 1:00 am, and saw some security agencies, I asked what was going on and the security official said they were detailed to arrest a judge.
“I said it is never heard that by 1:00am (after one), you are here to arrest a judge when you could as well invite the judge.
“If you cannot reach the judge whoever the judge is, invite the judge through the Chief Judge and obviously, the judge must have to respond to your invitation”.
The Governor stated that it will 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.
Legal practitioner, Jiti Ogunye, sees nothing wrong in the manner in which the Department of State Service (DSS) executed its arrest of three Nigerian judges in the early hours of Saturday, October 8.
Speaking on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics, Mr Ogunye explained the execution of the warrant of arrest, and quoted Section 148 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, which states that a search warrant can be issued and executed at any time of the day including a Sunday or a public holiday.
He was reacting to the claim by constitutional lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, who had earlier on the programme, described the arrest of the judges as “most condemnable by any right thinking member of the society”.
Ozhekhome faulted the timing and manner of the arrest, claiming that the law does not allow for homes of suspects to be searched during the night or for doors to be broken in order to gain access.
Mr Ogunye berated Ozekhome for quoting an old law which, according to him, has since seized to be relevant. “People are not familiar with the law and those who should enlighten the public manipulate the law and they don’t disclose what the law has said.”
On the “gestapo” manner in which the arrest was done, he went further to read from Section 149 of the Act, where the law permits law enforcement agents to “break open any outer or inner door or window of any house or place of the suspect to be arrested” if access to such building cannot be obtained or is denied.
He argued that it has become impossible to deny that Nigeria has serious ethical issues in the judiciary, bordering on corruption.
In justifying the need to fight corruption, Mr Ogunye noted that corruption is the bane of the Nigerian society, “it has affected our development, stunted our growth and destroyed our country”.
Mr Ozekhome had also earlier argued that democracy only thrives on its adherence to the rule of law and the Nigerian government, by allowing the arrests, has gone against the values of democracy and the DSS has gone beyond its constitutional mandate.
“The DSS by our constitutional organogram has its own functions and these are to take care of the internal security of the country.
“Its counterpart the DIA, Directorate of Intelligence Agency, is in charge of matters concerning military, while the NIA, Nigerian Intelligence Agency, is in charge of security matters that extend beyond the boundaries of Nigeria.
“The three legal entities that are allowed by our laws to go into corruption matters are the EFCC, the ICPC and the Nigerian Police, particularly under Section 4.
“So, their action is faulted fundamentally on the ground that they were going beyond their constitutional and statutory mandate,” he said.
Again, Mr Ogunye disagreed with Mr Ozekhome’s argument.
“This law was made during the military era and it has wide implications,” he argued, adding that the law also added that the DSS can be saddled with any issue the President feels affects the internal security of the country.
“The corruption of the judiciary that wants to destroy the third arm of government can be deemed, and in fact I will deem it, as something that is affecting the security of the country,” he said.
A constitutional lawyer, Mr Mike Ozekhome, believes that the padding of the 2016 budget originated from the executive arm of government and not the legislative.
The legal practitioner, who spoke on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, linked his opinion to the sacking of some officials at the budget office by the President.
“The real padding in this current budget was actually from the executive, not from the National Assembly.
“President Muhammadu Buhari had to sack some people in the budget office when he discovered through some ministers who literally denounced their appropriation figures before the National Assembly, saying (that) it was not my deed (what we call ‘Non Est factum’ in law),” he stated.
Mr Ozekhome expressed dismay that the sacked officials were yet to be arraigned before a court.
On the other hand, he explained that padding would have occurred at the National Assembly if figures were smuggled in the budget, after the lawmakers had made a resolve.
“Padding can only occur in the National Assembly if figures are smuggled in, after the finance committees at the various appropriation committee (Finance Committee, Budget Committee and the National Planning Committee) have agreed.
“If after they have agreed on certain figures debated and approved by the House itself at a plenary session, someone manages again to smuggle in some figures, then that could be padding,” he said.
Former President of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Olisa Agbakoba, believes that President Goodluck Jonathan should be commended for the peaceful conduct of the election.
In a session with the media in Lagos, Agbakoba commended President Jonathan for giving room for free and fair elections and for conceding defeat to the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate and new President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari.
The constitutional lawyer said; “Jonathan allowed the democratic space to open. He allowed multiparty democracy and he allowed free and fair elections.
“He took the shine off Buhari by calling and conceding, even before the final result was announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission.”
Similarly, Agbakoba commended the INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, for his patience even in the face of outright provocation.
He also praised all Nigerians for their efforts towards the success of the elections, but noted that voting along ethnic lines was not good for Nigeria, urging the electorates to see beyond ethnic differences.
The Senior Advocate also congratulated General Muhammadu Buhari on his victory in the 2015 presidential election and urged him not to discard the recommendations made from the National Conference.
Agbakoba further called for the creation of a new anti-corruption framework and the strengthening of Nigeria’s institutions to tackle the menace.
“We need a new anti-corruption framework because the current one has not worked.
“Let the message be clear that there will be response from government that corruption will be severely punished,” Agbakoba said.