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.

ECOWAS Court Declares Dasuki’s Detention Unlawful

Dasuki, ECOWAS Court, Sambo DasukiThe ECOWAS community court of justice has declared the arrest and continuous detention of former National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki as unlawful and an arbitrary violation of his fundamental human rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.

Delivering judgment on the suit filed by the former National Security Adviser against the federal government, the three-man panel of the court presided over by Justice Friday Nwoke, ordered the federal government to release him immediately having detained him illegally without trial since the November 5, 2015.

The court also ordered the federal government to pay the sum of 15 million naira as compensation to Colonel Dasuki for unlawfully detaining him, invading and seizing his properties without a valid search warrant or an order of a court of competent jurisdiction.

The court further held that investigating Colonel Dasuki for allegedly committing or planning to commit a crime is not enough ground to detain him for over seven months without trial.

The court held that it was an arbitrary claim that there were plans to destabilise the government.

The court also said that the applicant, like any other ECOWAS citizen, has a right to own and enjoy property without interference.

The lawyer to Colonel Dasuki applauded the verdict of the court and asked the federal government to obey the judgment.

I Am Being Punished By Powers That Be – Dasuki

DasukiFormer National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (Rtd) has told a Federal High Court in Abuja that he was being punished by some persons at the highest level of power in the country for the perceived offences he committed some years ago while in the military.

Dasuki, who did not name any particular person, said that the punishment being meted on him was unfortunate and is borne out of mere vendetta.

Counsel to Dasuki, Mr Joseph Daudu told the court that his client has rested his case and has turned to God for the ultimate judgment.

According to him, asking for a secret trial is a breach of the principle of fair trial because his client cannot be a threat to any witness, especially since he has been in custody since December 2015.

In the fresh motion argued by the prosecuting counsel, Mr Dipo Okpeseyi, the federal government prayed the court to allow its witnesses give evidence behind a screen to be provided by the court.

He held that the request, hinged on the fact that Dasuki as a former military chief, has loyalists across the country, who may jeopardize the trial if done in the open.

Okpeseyi told the court of the case of a government witness, who was involved in a serious accident, resulting in multiple fractures and injuries but however stated that in as much as he would not accuse Dasuki of having a hand in the accident, it has heightened the need to have the witnesses protected by the court.

Trial judge, Justice Ademola, has fixed ruling and continuation of trial for September 13, 14 and 15, 2016.

Alleged N32 Billion Fraud: Dasuki’s Absence Stalls Trial

Sambo-Dasuki-trial-2016The trial of former National Security Adviser, Clo. Sambo Dasuki (Rtd) was on Wednesday stalled due to the inability of the prosecutors to produce him in court.

The erstwhile security chief was alleged to have refused to appear in court.

At the resumed hearing, the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, told Justice Baba Yusuf that Mr. Dasuki refused to be in court on the grounds that his lawyers, Joseph Daudu and Ahmed Raji, would not be in court.

He also added that he tried to convince the defendant to come to court and see how the proceedings would be conducted, but he (Dasuki) refused.

Mr Jacobs, therefore urged the court to commence trial in the absence of the defendant.

However, defence counsel, Mr Wale Balogun, urged Justice Baba Yusuf to disregard the claim of the prosecution, maintaining that as of Wednesday, Mr. Dasuki was still denied access to his lawyers.

Mr. Balogun described Mr Jacob’s claim, allegedly obtained from a third party, that Mr Dasuki’s lawyers never attempted to see him as “baseless and unwarranted”

Mr. Dasuki’s lawyer said on the contrary it was the SSS and the prosecution that scuttled the trial by their deliberate refusal to produce the defendant who has been in their custody since last year in court.

The presiding judge, in his remarks, said the case cannot commence without the defendant.

Justice Yusuf therefore adjourned the case to April 6 for the prosecution to produce the defendant in court.

‎The anti-graft agency had in the charge it filed before an Abuja High Court sitting at Maitama, alleged that Dasuki connived with the erstwhile Director of Finance in the Office of the NSA, Mr. Shuaibu Salisu and a former Executive Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), ‎Aminu Baba-Kusa‎, and diverted public funds to the tune of N32billion.

Two companies, Acacia Holding Limited and Reliance Referal Hospital Limited, which allegedly served as conduit pipes through which the fund was allegedly siphoned from accounts the office of the NSA operated with both the Central Bank of Nigeria and other financial institutions, were also joined as defendants to the charge.

Dasuki Asks Court To Stop Trial, Quash Charges

dasukiFormer National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki, has again asked a Federal High Court in Abuja to stop his trial.

He also asked the court to set aside the criminal charges of unlawful possession of fire arms brought against him by the Federal Government.

Dasuki told the court that the Federal Government no longer has moral and legal rights to continue his trial having disobeyed the order of bail granted him since Nov 3, 2015.

The ex-NSA in an application seeking his discharge from the criminal charges and argued by his counsel, Mr Joseph Daudu, premised his prayer on the fact that the Federal Government is in contempt of the court in relation to the charges filed against him.

According to Mr Daudu, since November 3, 2015, when his client was re-arrested by operatives of the Department of State Service (DSS), after perfecting his bail conditions, he has since been held in custody without trial or reasons made known to him.

The counsel insisted that the bail order that admitted Dasuki to bail remains valid having not been reviewed or set aside by the court and as such it must be obeyed in the interest of justice.

Opposing the application, counsel to the Federal Government, Mr Dipo Okpeseyi, urged the court not to grant the application because its purpose is to frustrate the trial and restrain the power and constitutional responsibility of the government to prosecute a criminal charge.

He said that it would be an anomaly for a court to discharge an accused without trial.

Mr Okpeseyi also claimed that no material was placed before the court to show that the FG violated the bail order given to Colonel Dasuki and that there was also no evidence that government is preventing him from defending himself, he therefore urged the court to dismiss the application.

After listening to arguments from both parties, Justice Ademola fixed ruling on the application for April 4.

EFCC Opens Money Laundering Case Against Suswan

EFCC on SuswanThe Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Nigeria has opened a money laundering case against the former Governor of Benue State.

At the hearing of the case on Monday, an operative of the EFCC told a Federal High Court in Abuja that the petition, which Mr Mr Gabriel Suswan was indicted for, was an anonymous petition.

While testifying in the trial of the former Benue State Governor, Mr Junaidu Saidu, informed the court that the petitioner could not be located and the address provided on the petition does not exist.

Under cross examination, counsel to Mr Suswan, Joseph Daudu, also admitted that the email sent by the anti-graft agency to the petitioner was not delivered because the address does not also exist.

Mr Daudu told Justice Ahmed Mohammed that the EFCC attempted to invite the petitioner through the address provided on the petition for clarification on the allegation, but could not trace the petitioner.

He said the petition, which was titled ‘Truth Shall Overcome Evil Minds’ could not be associated with any person or organisation.

However,  attempts by counsel to Mr Suswan to tender a Federal High Court judgment delivered in 2007 which held that the EFCC had no power to investigate the financial activities of a state government, was turned down by Justice Mohammed on the ground that it does not need to admit the judgment before taking a judicial notice of its content.

The EFCC had put Suswan on trial on the allegation that he sold off shares belonging to Benue State Investment and Property Limited worth nine billion Naira without the consent of the State House of Assembly and diverted the proceeds to personal use.

He was also tried for breach of trust and money laundering.

DSS Arrests Dasuki Again

dasukiThe operatives of Department of State Service (DSS) on Monday morning arrested the immediate past National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki (Rtd) in Abuja.

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja had fixed December 3 for the hearing of the motion filed by the Federal Government seeking to revoke the bail granted to the former National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki.

At the resumed hearing of the suit, lawyer to the federal government, Mr Mohammed Diri, told the court that a notice of appeal has been lodged at the Court of Appeal challenging the judgment of the court granting bail to the former National Security Adviser.

The former NSA was charged to court with illegal possession of arms following a siege to his Abuja home and subsequent arrest in July. The charge against him was later expanded to include money laundering.

But a Federal High Court in Abuja granted Mr Dasuki permission to travel abroad for medical attention pending the commencement of his trial on the November 26 and 27.

Ruling on the application filed by Mr Dasuki, Justice Adeniyi Ademola granted the former National Security Adviser a period of three weeks within which to take care of his health abroad.

However, few days after this ruling, the home of Colonel Sambo Dasuki in the nation’s capital, Abuja was surrounded by men of the DSS and the siege was described as an attempt to ensure that he did not leave the country, as the former NSA accused the Federal Government of abuse of power.

The DSS debunked the claim that its operatives invaded the home of the former National Security Adviser in defiance of a court order granting him permission to travel abroad for medical treatment.

The DSS in a statement, explained that the action by its officers is caused by the refusal of Mr. Dasuki to honour an invitation by a committee investigating his alleged involvement in the 2 billion dollars arms procurement process by the past administration.

The statement added that his refusal to appear before the committee compelled the DSS to adopt a legal means to ensure his attendance.

“Sambo was initially arrested and charged to court for unlawful possession of firearms and money laundering, for which reason his international passport was seized and on the order of the court, returned to the registrar for custody.

“What has however brought the seeming standoff between Sambo and the Service, despite the court-ordered release of his international passport on 4th November, 2015, is his refusal to appear before a Committee undertaking the investigation of an entirely different case.” the DSS said.

The former National Security Adviser (NSA) Colonel Sambo Dasuki, denied ever receiving any invitation letter to appear before a committee set up by the current administration to investigate procurement processes relating to any arms transaction by the last administration, under which he served.

 

Dasuki’s Bail Revocation Suit: Court Fixes Dec. 3 For Hearing

DasukiA Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has fixed December 3 for the hearing of the motion filed by the Federal Government seeking to revoke the bail granted to the former National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki.

At the resumed hearing of the suit, lawyer to the federal government, Mr Mohammed Diri, told the court that a notice of appeal has been lodged at the Court of Appeal challenging the judgment of the court granting bail to the former National Security Adviser.

Ruling on another application seeking to ensure the presence of Colonel Dasuki in court, Justice Adeniyi Ademola said that it is not compulsory for a defendant to be present in court when interlocutory applications are being heard. He added that, in line with Section 266b of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, accused persons are mandated to be in court during trial for criminal cases.

Colonel Sambo Dasuki, who pleaded not guilty to a one-count charge of alleged illegal possession of firearms, preferred against him by the federal government had earlier been granted bail by a Federal High Court to enable him seek medical attention abroad.

Justice Minister’s Absence Stalls Dasuki’s Suit Hearing Again

Justice Minister Absent In Court Over Dasuki's BailThe Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, has failed to appear before a court over the right enforcement suit filed by the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Colonel Sambo Dasuki (Rtd).

Mr Malami again refused to show up at a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, to explain why the order of the court granting Mr Dasuki permission to travel for medical treatment was being flouted.

At the resumed hearing of the suit on Monday, the Federal Government opposed the application for the enforcement of fundamental human rights filed by Dasuki on the ground that he needed to be present in court to seek any relief.

The prosecutor, Mr Mohammed Diri, informed the court that he had filed an application seeking to revoke the bail granted the former NSA.

Relying on section 266 of the administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, lawyer to Colonel Dasuki, Mr Joseph Daudu, disagreed with the prosecutor.

Mr Daudu said that his client was not on trial and as such, it was not mandatory for him to be physically present in court.

Justice Adeniyi Ademola subsequently adjourned the suit till November 26 for ruling, just as the trial was expected to commence on the same day.

On November 3, the Federal High Court granted Colonel Dasuki permission to travel for medial treatment, by the court’s ruling has not been fully upheld, as some officials of the Department for State Service (DSS) are said to have maintained a siege to the house of the former NSA.

Colonel Dasuki is facing charges for alleged money laundering and unlawful possession of firearms. He has denied the allegations, saying he acted in the interest of the nation.

The Federal Government had filed an amended charge against the former National Security Adviser, after his arraignment on a one-count charge of unlawful possession of firearms without licence.

The prosecution expanded the charges to include money laundering and also applied to the court for a secret trial Mr Dasuki as well as protection for all its witnesses in the suit.

 

Fight Against Corruption: Government Must Prove Capacity For Fairness – Dogara

Yakubu-Dogara-Speaker-of-house-of-RepsThe Speaker of the House of Representatives says government institutions involved in the fight against corruption must prove their capacity for fairness, justice and strict adherence to the rule of law.

In his welcome address after lawmakers resumed from their 6-week recess, Honorable Yakubu Dogara commended Senate President, Bukola Saraki, for submitting himself to the jurisdiction of the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

Honorable Dogara, however, cautioned that while he supports government war on corruption, it must be carried out in a way that will not endanger the country’s democracy.

The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki was docked on September 22 at the Code of Conduct Tribunal after a short argument between the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) and the defence counsel, Joseph Daudu (SAN), who was insisting that the day’s sitting was not for the taking pleas.

After Dr. Saraki took the dock, the 13-count charge was read to him and he pleaded not guilty.

The Senate President told the tribunal, in his opening remarks that he is a firm believer in the rule of law.

Dr Saraki had earlier given the assurance of his appearance after protracted arguments between his lawyers and the prosecution counsel over the jurisdiction of the Code of Conduct Tribunal sitting over allegations of false asset declaration.

His spokesman, Mr. Yusuph Olaniyonu, had said in a statement attributed his absence from the tribunal to the legal advice he received from his counsel, that it is not necessary for him to appear before the tribunal at this stage.

The Code of Conduct Tribunal had earlier ordered the arrest of the Senate President for failing to appear before the Tribunal to answer charges of alleged false declaration while he served as Governor of Kwara State between 2003 and 2007.