Nigerian judges open up - 'Why DSS is after us' - Flatimes

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Nigerian judges open up - 'Why DSS is after us'

Some of the judges whose homes were raided by operatives of the Department of State Service, DSS, last weekend, have opened cans of worm, with one of them indicting the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN.

Already, two of them who are currently serving at the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, Justices Ademola Adeniyi and Nnamdi Dimgba, have concluded plans to file separate suits against the DSS for violating their constitutional rights.

While Justice Ademola was one of the seven superior court judges the DSS arrested and detained between October 8 and 9, Justice Dimgba’s home was thoroughly ransacked by the security operatives, though he was not arrested.

The duo, in different letters dated October 10 and 11, have applied for permission of the National Judicial Council, NJC, headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, to file actions against the DSS for the enforcement of their fundamental human rights. Remarkably, both Judges had recently made orders the DSS spurned, since it would have led to the release of persons currently under detention.

While Justice Ademola ordered release of the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, and also granted bail to the detained former National Security Adviser to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Col. Sambo Dasuki, retd, on self recognition. Justice Dimgba on the other hand, granted bail to a former member of the arms probe panel that was set up by the Federal Government, Air Commodore Umar Mohammed (retd).

The DSS ignored the orders and subsequently took the accused persons before Justice John Tsoho of the same court, who though refused Kanu bail, okayed same bail terms earlier given to Mohammed by Dimgba. Meanwhile, Dimgba, in his letter, told the NJC that his court had been under the radar of the DSS since September 16 when his registrar was detained after the Service invited her to its office for a chat. He said the registrar was released but re-invited on September 26, after which her phones were seized by the DSS.

According to Justice Dimgba, the DSS, “threatened her to provide them with testimonies that could implicate me in the performance of my official duties.” He insisted that he was subjected to harassment and intimidation because of rulings he delivered against the DSS, saying his house was invaded by a team of over 20 operatives of the DSS in about five operational vehicles without a search warrant.

“When I asked, they first presented me with a search warrant for a No. 19 Ogbemudia Crescent, Apo Legislative Quarters, Zone E and which had a John Inyang Okoro as defendant. When I explained to them that my house address was not No. 19 Ogbemudia Crescent, Apo Legislative Quarters, Zone E, and that my name was certainly not John Inyang Okoro, on the search warrant, the DSS team leader explained that there was a mix-up, and then presented me with another search warrant for 30 Ogbemudia Crescent, Apo Legislative Quarters, Zone E, but which had A.F.A Ademola as the defendant.

“When I also explained that I was not A.F.A Ademola but that my name was Justice Dimgba, the DSS team leader stated that whatever was the case, they (the DSS) were under instructions from above to search Justice Nnamdi Dimgba’s house.

“Thereafter, the DSS operatives turned on my nephew, who resides with me, and my driver, beat them to a pulp with guns, and forced their way into and ransacked the entire house in the course of execution of a non-existent search warrant,” he said. He said the DSS operatives eventually went away with his work bag “containing a number of case files which I had planned to work on for the weekend in relation to judgments adjourned, the power cable of my laptop and also my copy of the reply dated September 4, 2016, which I had sent to the NJC to the DSS’ petition against me.”

 Likewise, Justice Ademola who shares a fence with Dimgba, fingered the AGF, Malami, SAN, as the brain behind his ordeal in hands of the DSS. He said that Malami instigated his arrest to take back his pound of flesh owing to a clash they had in the past whilst the AGF was practising as a lawyer in Kano. Ademola who then served as a Judge of the Federal High Court, Kano Division, said he had reported Malami to the NJC for engaging in professional misconduct.

He said it took the intervention of Kano branch of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, to save the AGF from being debarred, alleging that Malami got freed using a fake apology letter. “What is more intriguing in this whole episode, is that I see it as a vendetta/revenge from the Hon. Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami. While I was in Kano between 2004 and 2007 as a Federal High Court judge, he was involved in a professional misconduct necessitating his arrest and detention by my order.

“However, with the intervention of the NBA, Kano branch, the allegation of misconduct was later withdrawn by me. “Consequently, the NJC referred Abubakar Malami (SAN) to the Nigerian Bar Association’s Disciplinary Committee for disciplinary action.” On the raid, Ademola denied that huge amount of money was found in his residence, saying he could however not determine how much was actually recovered, since the money was allegedly recovered from his house in his absence. He said the DSS had aside accusing him of granting “unconstitutional bail” to Kanu and Dasuki, also told him 24 hours after his arrest that allegations for which he was being investigated included a petition by Mr. Jekins Duvie dated April 4, still pending before the NJC.

 “After stating the grounds for the invasion as stated above, they requested explanation of the money found in my apartment, as well as two licensed firearms also found in my apartment. “All the allegations that border on judicial decisions were supported with Certified True Copy of Proceedings showing that those applications were not opposed by the counsel representing the Department of State Services of the Federal Government of Nigeria”, the Judge added. Giving a peep into what transpired that night, Ademola said mistook the the DSS operatives for armed robbers, “especially because this was at an ungodly hour of the night.”

He said the operatives numbering about 45 with all of them masked, storme his official residence at House 30, Ogbemudia Crescent, Apo Legislative Quarters, Abuja, on or about 12 am at midnight of the said day, Friday. Ademola said he was awaken by the operatives’ loud sound of banging, breaking and hitting. “They asked me to open the door and I responded, asking them, ‘Who are you?’ They answered ‘We are officers of the Department of State Services and we are here with a search warrant to search your house.’

“I told them to allow me to call my counsel. At this point, they had already began kicking at my door and after about three kicks, I got up and opened my bedroom door and let them in. “To my surprise, I saw about 45 masked officers of the DSS, all heavily armed pointing their guns at me.

 They flashed a document purported to be a search warrant and ordered me to sign on a document claiming that they had already conducted a search downstairs. “They also added that I was totally under their custody as I have always made an order against them (the DSS).

 “I complied and upon signing the document, they told me that I was under arrest and ordered me with guns still pointed at me to move outside. As I was going, they told me they were taking me to their office without showing any warrant of arrest,” the letter read. “I obeyed them and at about six o’clock in the morning, I was whisked away from my residence to the DSS office.

“From the time of my arrival at the DSS office, at about 6:45am on October 8, I was not told what my crime was for over 24 hours till the evening of October 9. “A DSS official finally informed me that the search and my arrest were based on these three allegations: the petition of Hon. Jenkins Duvie dated April 4, 2016 to the National Judicial Council and granting bail to Col. Sambo Dasuki and the unconditional release of Nnamdi Kanu.”

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