The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, yesterday, called on the Department of State Services, DSS, to immediately and unconditionally release the two justices of the Supreme Court, whose homes were raided by its operatives in the early hours of Saturday, and later taken into custody. The duo are Justices Sylvester Ngwuta and Justice Okoro
It will be recalled that armed masked DSS operatives also raided the residences of judges of the Federal High Court in Abuja, Gombe and Port Harcourt, Rivers State. It was gathered at each of the raids, family members were also harassed.
NBA President, Mr Abubakar Mamoud, SAN, who addressed newsmen, yesterday, in Lagos, alongside three past Presidents of the association, namely, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, Dr Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, Mr Joseph Daudu, SAN, and Mr Austine Aleghe, SAN, on the arrest and detention of the two justices of the Supreme Court and the invasion and harassment of judges of the Federal High Court in Abuja, Gombe and Port Harcourt, Rivers State, said “DSS has been carrying out raids in the houses of justices of the Supreme Court and those of judges of the Federal High Court in Abuja, Gombe and Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
“Some family members of the judges were manhandled. We gathered that the raids were carried out at 2a.m. “We condemn the raids in the strongest possible terms. We are in a democratic society and we cannot accept a situation where armed masked DSS operatives invade the homes of the justices of the Supreme Court and judges of our high courts. “This is a ploy by the executive to intimidate the judiciary and we will not accept it. The NBA will not accept it.
“I want to emphasise again that we are not under military rule and we cannot accept this Gestapo style of operation. “First, the NBA demands the immediate and unconditional release of the justices the Supreme Court still being held by the DSS without further delay. “The DSS should limit itself to its constitutional duties and responsibilities.
“We demand that President Muhammadu Buhari should call his security agencies to order as this kind of practice is not acceptable under a democratic rule. “If there are issues affecting judicial officers, there are established processes and procedures for handling them and we demand that these constitutional processes must be obeyed. “I have declared a state of emergency on the legal profession over the matter and I have invited past Presidents and Secretary Generals of the association.
“I have also set up a Crisis Committee team which shall consist of past Presidents and Secretary Generals of the association to follow up on the matter.” Asked whether the association will immediately embark on court boycott over the arrest and detention of judicial officers by the executive arm of government, he said members should allow the leaders handle the matter, while awaiting any further directive as maybe necessary.
He also discountenanced suggestions that there might be ethnic and religious colouration to the arrest, detention and harassment of the judicial officers.
“I have been in touch with the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, on phone over the development. We will go to any extent to ensure that the rule of law is followed in the way things are done in the country,” he added.