The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, has called on Nigerians not to lose faith and confidence in the Nigerian judiciary.
The CJN reiterated that despite the current misunderstanding between the National Judicial Council and the Directorate of the State Services (DSS), the Judiciary still continues to maintain cordial relations with the other arms of government.
Justice Mohammed said that the call by the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Abubakar Mahmoud to suspend the judges who are currently under investigation, was unnecessary and hasty.
He pointed out that the said judicial officers are still being investigated by the DSS.
The Chief Justice of Nigeria added that the DSS is yet to forward any complaint or any official communication regarding the seven judges to the National Judicial Council.
However, some of the affected judges have already been investigated by the NJC, which found some culpable and recommended their removal from office by dismissal or retirement to the President.
He also stated in clear terms that the ‘sting’ operations carried out by the DSS in October 2016 was certainly an assault on the independence of the Nigerian Judiciary even though, the Judiciary fully supports the anti-corruption drive.
The Minister of Information, Mr Lai Mohammed, has asked Nigerians not to think that the fight against corruption was a fight against judges, insisting that the Buhari administration has great respect for the judiciary as the third arm of government.
Mr Lai Mohammed made the statement on Wednesday while addressing reporters after the Federal Executive Council meeting at the Presidential Villa.
His statement came few days after several judges’ homes were raided and some of them arrested by the operatives of some Nigerian security agencies on allegations of corruption and misconduct.
The Department of State Services (DSS) after their arrest released a statement, saying that the judges had been under investigation for alleged misconduct and corruption.
The Minister of Information enumerated the number of lawyers in Buhari’s cabinet, highlighting the kind of respect the President had for the judiciary despite losing the elections three times.
According to the Minister of Information, the government is passionate about the fight against corruption and in the process is bound to step on toes.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Senator Joshua Lidani, brought the matter of the weekend arrest of the judges before the Senate at the resumption of plenary on Tuesday.
Senate President, Bukola Saraki, says the Senate is in full support of the fight against corruption but the government must ensure that the war on corruption must be done within the rule of law.
The Senate is mandating its Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to review all existing laws establishing security agencies and report back in four weeks.
After the NBA requested for the release of the judges, the DSS on Monday released them.
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 file charges against them continue.
The executive secretary of National Human Rights Commission, Professor Bem Angwe has decried the increasing number of awaiting trial inmates in the nation’s prisons saying penal institutions must conform to minimum international standards.
Addressing journalists at the flag off of the 2013 audit of prisons, police and other detention facilities, Professor Angwe says the incarceration of persons without trial is a gross violation of their rights.
He said all suspects charged with any offence deserves to be treated fairly and justly in order to decongest the nation’s prisons.
Some of the key findings in the area of access to justice of inmates in the 2012 audit report of prisons show that over 18,000 persons are awaiting trial.
Prof Angwe, who visited the Kuje prison to asses the situation of prisons, says the situation is deplorable.
The director of Public Prosecutions however assured the National Human Rights Commission that government is working towards decongesting the prisons.
The chairman of Senate Committee on Judiciary and his House of Representatives counterpart advocated the need for alternative sentencing of offenders saying some persons are sent to prison without fair trial.
For some of the prisoners, the judiciary remains their biggest enemy as they lamented cases of absentee Judges and long adjournment of cases.
The 2013 audit of prisons, police and other detention facilities was flagged off by the executive secretary of the national human rights commission with the aim of de-congesting the nation’s prisons.