NBA Goofed On Arrest of Judges
Written by Paul I. Adujie Esq.
I watched with utter dismay, as the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) surrounded by other prominent lawyers badmouthed the actions of the DSS which culminated in the arrest of some judges on Saturday, October 8, 2016
As the world has become aware, some judges in Nigeria were arrested on the allegation of fraud, and the arrests were conducted in a nationwide raid or sting, orchestrated by the DSS, armed with adequate prosecutable information with equally adequate and sufficient Probable Cause!
A majority of Nigerians are elated and ecstatic to learn of these arrests, particularly so, given the sacred position, the exalted and hallowed position judges hold in upholding Justice, Due Process and The Rule of Law
Nigeria has for far too long witnessed the profound absence of justice, and the equally profound absence of the Due Process and the Rule of Law, which has led to impunity and lawlessness at all levels.
Nigeria has witnessed and continues to witness regression in all facets of life, as no one plays by the rules or follows laid down processes and pay complete obeisance to the rule of law.
I have often said privately and publicly, that efforts to fight corruption by current federal government or any future government must begin with the judiciary and the police and or other law enforcement agencies.
When judges and policing agencies cannot be bribed, a majority of those Nigerians who have made impunity and lawlessness their vocation and profession; would soon fall in line.
It is the case that in Nigeria, there are great and good laws and rules regarding human conditions. However, most laws are not enforced, implemented or obeyed. Laws and rules in Nigeria are observed in their breaches!
The simplest of processes in Nigeria have become warped, twisted and perverted, and as a consequence, simple processes are made to become unnecessarily complex and complicated. Simple actions are made to take too long and extremely expensive, stressful and or frustratingly cumbersome!
The judges arrested on Saturday October 8, 2016 are said to have made useful statements to law enforcement agencies and the policing authorities. Documents were said to have been recovered from the allegedly erring judges who were arrested.
It is the case that large sums of monies were said to have been recovered from each of the arrested judges - hundreds of millions of Naira, US Dollars, British pounds and Euros were recovered from the arrested judges. Let the arrested judges defend themselves. Let them reconcile their salaries with their sudden wealth or stash of cash or loads of loots and avarice! And yes, I do believe in and subscribe the Presumption of Innocence!
Law enforcement agencies will soon reveal the contents of statements made by these culprit judges. Most probably, these said judges have filed statements of their assets prior to their arrest, and secondly, the said judges would explain why they have these extraordinarily large amounts in their homes as opposed to lodgements with their various banks.
It does appear that these arrested judges, were scared to deposit the monies which they received from their sale of matches, toothpicks and sachets of water, as the Bank Verification Number rule or regime, has made it a little more difficult to bank almost anonymously and through proxies as a certain lady was recently accused of banking by proxies, while retaining all the benefits and ATM cards, even though the accounts in question bore the names and images of other persons!
It is quite astonishing, astounding and even outlandish, that the NBA executive would defend the obviously indefensible judges! The NBA President was heard and seen condemning the arrests of these judges, and referring to the process as Gestapo style, despite the fact that the DSS operations was preceded by petitions of allegations of these judges accepting bribes and perverting justice!
The DSS have Probable Cause(s) to conduct the arrests, and the DSS may have reasons to believe that the targeted judges would flee or hide or destroy the evidences of their alleged crimes.
The NBA President seems to misunderstand or he has wilfully misinterpreted Due Process and Rule of Law with his suggestion that the arrest of the judges should not have taken place because (a) DSS is not the Nigeria Police and (b) DSS or even the police may not arrest the judges at all, particularly at the particular hours of the morning!
It is my opinion that the DSS acted within the scope of their statutory assignment and that the DSS acted properly in conducting the arrest at the particular hours, to prevent flight, or escape by the arrested judges and as well as the DSS desire to ensure that proceeds of crimes are not destroyed or taken out of jurisdiction, including other tactical and strategic reasons which may have informed and prompted the DSS to act in the manner and the time their operatives acted.
I strongly believe that the DSS have adequate and sufficient information, and now, evidence to prosecute, hence these audacious arrests and bribe loot recoveries as have been announced by the DSS. The DSS certainly know more than what the public currently knows, they may have had exigent circumstances as to likelihood of flight or disappearance of the judges arrested, and the targeted corruption proceeds!
It is really disappointing to regularly and too often see Nigerian lawyers, and worse the NBA executives become tools with which the corrupt political class shield themselves…. Judges and members of the political class openly, conspicuously, ostentatiously and brazenly corrupt and break any and every law with impunity, while setting slush funds aside to hire 10 Senior Advocates of Nigeria to defend the indefensible!
The Nigerian nation and her citizens are not living to their full potentials as a result of corruption of every process. Elections are predictably rigged, judges are predictably for the highest bidders, budgets are routinely passed but monies so appropriated are predictably stolen or plundered, and then law enforcement agencies engage in some sort of “Catch-and Release” and the cycle perpetrates and perpetuates!
Budgets for roads, bridges and public infrastructures never get spent on roads and bridges or other public infrastructures hence they are decayed and decrepit nationwide. There are front-loading and unwarranted upward appraisals of contract prices. Monies budgeted for equipment and medicines never get to the target hospitals. Hence, Nigerian hospitals are bereft of modern state of the art medical diagnostic and treatment tools and or medicines. Medical doctors are frequently on strike nationally, and this is why your cousin will not find a doctor or medicine in his neighbourhood hospital tomorrow.
The generator in your home is running right now, as there is no municipal electricity, because the budget for electricity generation and transmission has evaporated through corruption, and nationally, Nigerians can count more generators than citizens!
Stupidity should have consequences and law breaking should receive sanction(s) but, currently in Nigeria, there is a dearth or even the complete absence of integrity. A corrupt judge is worse than an armed robber because a corrupt judge perverts justice, law and processes. Such judges, where there are allegations and probable cause, should be arrested and punished. Corrupt judge are odious and inimical to the very essence of justice, corrupt judges should be exposed and subject to public opprobrium.
When and if a law enforcement agency discovers that a crime has been committed, is being committed or likely to be committed, it’s incumbent on upon such a law enforcer to arrest the offender without dithering. Prompt and legal arrest is an imperative! We do not ask armed robbers in Nigeria for permission to arrest them. So, why should we ask judges for permission to arrest them, when and if there is a probable cause, predicate and foundation for their arrest?
Corrupt judges thwart the very fundamental social order, the rule of law and due process to which they are supposed to pay complete obeisance. As we all must realize, the absence of law and order permits lawlessness!