Arrested judges to be arraigned today


The two justices of the Supreme Court and five other judges arrested by the  Department of State Services (DSS) will be arraigned today before a Federal High Court in Abuja, Nigerian Tribune has gathered.

The judges were arrested on October 7 and 8 by the DSS, over alleged corruption and illegal possession of arms.

Charges are said to be separately prepared against the judges, who were arrested in a sting operation carried out by the DSS.

The judges were, however, admitted to bail on self recognition and had been reporting to the office of the DSS to answer some allegations levelled against them.

The two justices of the apex court, Sylvester Ngwuta and Inyang Okoro arrested by the DSS, had written to the National Judicial Council (NJC), claiming that their travails in the hands of the DSS were political persecution.

The prosecution, it was learnt, would put measures in place to keep the judges away from tampering with evidence being collated against them and witnesses lined up to give evidence.

Meanwhile, the Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) has asked the Federal High Court, Abuja, to declare as unlawful, the raid and arrest of judges by the DSS, and an order of injunction stopping the planned arraignment in court.

The group claimed in the suit that the judges could not be charged and arraigned in court without the authorisation of the National Judicial Council (NJC).

In a motion on notice for interlocutory injunction filed at the court on Tuesday, LEDAP sought “an order restraining the defendants/respondents from filing any charge in court or arraigning before any court or arresting and/or detaining, inviting for questioning or searching the office or residence of any of the judicial officers listed in the schedule hereunder or any other judicial officer in Nigeria unless with the authorisation and referral of the NJC, pending the hearing and determination of the originating summons filed in this suit.”

The group is seeking general and exemplary damages of N1 million for each of the seven arrested judges against the DSS.

The matter is yet to be fixed for hearing.

Also, a Lagos-based rights activist, Olukoya Ogungbeje, slammed N50 billion suit on President Muhammadu Buhari and five others before the Federal High Court, Abuja, over the raid of judges’ homes.

In the originating motion brought under sections 33, 34, 35, 36, 41 and 46 of the 1999 Constitution, Order 11, Rules 1 of the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2009 and Order 11 of the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2009, a lawyer,  is asking for a N50 billion exemplary damages against all the respondents with the exclusion of the NJC, the sixth respondent in the matter.

In suit no FHC/ABJ/CS/309/2016, filed on October 14, 2016, the activist wanted the court to declare as wrongful, illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional,  null and void, the arrest, harassment, humiliation and detention of five judges and other judicial officers of superior courts in Nigeria by the agents of the first, second, third, fourth and fifth respondents, without due process of  law or lawful excuse.

The suit, supported by a 39-paragraph affidavit and deposed to by the plaintiff, was yet to be assigned to a trial judge.