An overnight assault on senior judges across the country by the State Security Service has resulted in the arrest of a Federal High Court judge and alleged brutalisation of a sitting governor.
Attempts were also made to arrest two Supreme Court judges.
The official quarters of Walter Onoghen, who was recently recommended to President Buhari as the next Chief Justice of Nigeria, and Sylvester Ngwuta also of the Supreme Court were besieged by the SSS for several hours overnight.
Multiple sources said the clampdown began in Gombe State where the SSS arrested Muazu Pindigi who served on the elections tribunal in Rivers State.
The operation continued in Abuja on Friday night into early Saturday morning.
In Abuja, the SSS stormed the the home Nnamdi Dimgba and Adeniyi Ademola, both of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, in their official residences located inside Apo Legislative Quarters, Abuja.
Mr. Ademola was later arrested in the early hours of Saturday while Mr. Dimgba’s brother was assaulted by the operatives.
Both judges are neighbours on Samuel Ogbemudia street of the Apo quarters.
A source, who pleaded anonymity, said Mr. Dimgba’s residence was surrounded on Friday night for a recent decision he made against the continued detention of a retired Air Commodre, Mohammed Umar.
Mr. Umar was arrested following allegations of fraud, illegal possession of firearms and abuse of trust.
He was granted bail with a bond of N100 million.
Justice Dimgba in a recent ruling ordered the SSS to release Mr. Umar or risk being committed by his court, the source, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, explained.
He said the SSS had earlier been told by a magistrate court to release the accused, but instead they brought the matter before the Federal High Court.
When Mr. Dimgba, however, learnt that an order had previously been made for the release of Mr. Umar, he decided that his court would maintain the same order and its conditions for bail.
Mr. Dimgba also ordered the SSS to remand the accused at the Kuje maximum security prison, pending the time when he would meet the conditions for bail.
That order was also in furtherance of the decision made at the magistrate court.
The SSS failed to obey the order and continued to hold Mr. Umar.
In Rivers State, police and SSS officials on Saturday morning reportedly assaulted Governor Nyesom Wike after he attempted to prevent them from arresting a judge.
The officers reportedly stormed the home of the judge, whose identity Mr. Wike withheld, at 35, Forces Avenue, Port-Harcourt, the state capital.
A statement by Mr. Wike’s spokesman, Oraye Francis, said the operation was led by the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Francis Odesanya, and the Director of SSS, Tosin Ajayi.
The operatives, “rough-handled Governor Wike, pushing him around and injuring his hand,” Mr. Francis said. “A few of the operatives cocked their rifles and threatened to shoot the Governor.”
No reason has been officially given by the SSS for Saturday’s raids and the agency currently has no spokesperson.