The Department of State Services has justified its Friday night raid on the homes of judges across the country as part of measures to rid the judiciary of corrupt practices.
According to a top official of the Service, Abdullahi Garba, who addressed a press conference on Saturday, the operation followed the outcome of a special sting operation which it said involved some judges of the Supreme, Appeal and High Courts.
Despite the public outcry against the operation, Garba insisted that the action would be sustained until the judiciary is devoid of bribery and corruption.
Garba announced that the current operation will be sustained and followed “till sanity and sanctity were restored to the esteemed third arm of government and public confidence is regained.”
“The 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 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,” he said.
He said some of the judges had made useful statements on the allegations against them, adding however that a few of them declined “even with the glaring evidence that were found against them in terms of material cash, documents and property recovered pointing to their compromise.”
According to him, one of the states where the operations were conducted, intelligence report indicated that a judge was having the sum of $2m in his house.
He, however, regretted that a governor mobilized thugs to frustrate the DSS operation.
“In one of the states where the 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 the 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.”
He said large amount including foreign/local currencies had been recovered.
He gave the summaries of these to include:
N93,558,000.00, $530,087, £25,970 and €5,680 (euro).
He said other foreign currencies were also recovered, but didn’t give details.
Garba said the currencies were recovered from just three of the judges.
He declined to give their names and the total number of judges involved.
The cash, he added, were different from other banking documents, including real estate documents which he said were also recovered.
He said the suspects would be arraigned in competent courts of jurisdiction.
Contrary to reports in certain quarters, he said the Service had never invited Justice Walter Nkanu Onnoghen for investigation as being speculated in some quarters.
Onnoghen’s name had been recommended to the appropriate quarters as the next Chief Justice of the nation.
Garba stated that DSS had tremendous respect for the judiciary and would not do anything to undermine it or its activities.
“The Service will also join hands with this noble institution in its fight to rid it of few corrupt Judges whose actions is undermining not only the Judiciary but the common bond of our national life,” he added.