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.

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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.

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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.

Delta State Governorship Tribunal Adjourns Judgment

akwa ibom-benue, tribunalThe Delta State Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Asaba on Wednesday adjourned judgement of the petitions filed by the governorship candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Labour Party (LP) O’terga Emerho and Great Ogboru respectively, to a date that would be communicated before August 28.

Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Nasir Gummi, announced that the tribunal would  communicate to counsels, the date for the judgement shortly after submissions from the 1st, 2nd and  3rd respondents’ counsels against the suit filed by the petitioners to invalidate and nullify the result of the April 11 governorship elections in the state.

At the sitting, Alex Iziyon (SAN), the lead counsel to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, urged the tribunal to dismiss the petitions which he said varied with the petitioners’ evidences before the tribunal.

Counsels to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) also aligned with the claims of the 1st respondent.

In replying their addresses, the lead counsel to the petitioners, Thompson Okpoko (SAN) and Dele Adesina asked the tribunal to look at the petition before it, based on facts of their submissions, asking the tribunal to nullify and call for a fresh election.

Governor Okowa was declared winner of the April 11 election by the INEC.

Nigerian Bar Association Won’t Participate In National Conference – Adesina

Dele AdesinaA lawyer, Dele Adesina, on Monday restated the Nigerian Bar Association’s refusal to take the single slot it was allotted at the on-going National Conference, insisting that the Association should be given five slots.

“For us, we believe that the business of constitution making or drafting or amendment is a very serious business and I do not know the platform that can be bigger and better than the platform of Nigerian Bar Association as a body(as an institution),” he said.

The President of the Nigerian Bar Association as well its National Executive Committee had rejected the single slot allotted to the Association prior to the commencement of the Conference. However, while appearing as a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Adesina confirmed that no one was at the meeting on behalf of the NBA.

Adesina countered arguments that there are some delegates at the Conference who are also lawyers in their individual capacities or representing groups, maintaining that the NBA is concerned with official representation and that five slots would be adequate.

He defended his demand by referring to the number of slots allotted to the Trade Union Congress (6), the Nigeria Labour Congress (6), Civil Society Organisation (24) and stressed that the seeming exclusion of the NBA would cause the Conference to lack legal input and dynamics.

He also said that the Conference could have benefitted from a document containing the NBA’s review of the 1999 Constitution which had been submitted to the president. “The Conference would have benefitted from the pool of knowledge, which today is not there”, he said, hinting that the said document may not be released to lawyers who are at the Conference in their own individual capacity.

Mr Adesina, who said it would be unfair to assume the NBA was not concerned about the Conference for refusing to attend based on the slot allotted, agreed that the Association should have taken the slot and ensure that its representative worked with other lawyers at the Conference.

He however mentioned that “people are there for multi-dimensional interest purposes” and that there may be conflict of interests when a lawyer representing a particular group is expected to also advocate the position of the NBA.

“It is the position of most of us that uncountable number of amendments of an organic document like a Constitution is the best thing,” he said.