DSS Releases Judges on Self-Recognisance, Judges May be Arraigned Before Magistrate Court
Following public condemnation and outcry, President Muhammadu Buhari caved in to pressure Monday ordering the DSS to release the seven judges, who were arrested on Friday and Saturday on self recognisance.
Sources in the DSS confirmed on Monday evening, that the judges were released on own recognisance on Sunday.
“They were all released on bail yesterday (Sunday) on own recognisance. They reported this morning (Monday) and they have all gone back home. They will be coming back tomorrow (Tuesday); and everything went very procedurally well and civil. They were released on bail on own recognisance based on the fact that given their standing in the society, they cannot run away. They were instructed that they should come back today (Monday) by 10am. They did report for investigation this morning (Monday morning) and they have gone back home. The investigation continues and preparation to charge them to court. Also, the action was sequel to the lack of cooperation by the National Judicial Council such as the refusal by the NJC to allow the affected persons to be questioned by the DSS. Investigation started some seven months ago, precisely in April 2016”, Punch quoted a DSS source as saying.
The DSS had, in what it called a sting operation, arrested Sylvester Ngwuta and Inyang Okoro, both of the Supreme Court; the suspended Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, Ilorin Division, Justice Mohammed Tsamiya; Justice Kabiru Auta of the Kano State High Court and Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Others arrested were the sacked Chief Judge of Enugu State, Justice I. A. Umezulike, and Muazu Pindiga of the Federal High Court, Gombe Division.
However, the DSS on Monday, intensified its ongoing investigation of two Justices of the Supreme Court and other judges arrested over the weekend after simultaneous raids on their homes.
Top sources in the Federal Ministry of Justice confided in one of our correspondents on Monday that the DSS had extended its ongoing probe of the arrested judiciary chiefs to the asset declaration forms they submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau.
The DSS had said it was getting the cooperation of the Federal Ministry of Justice in its ongoing probe of the judges.
Punch reports that the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation is involved in the ongoing investigation.
As part of the ongoing investigation, the DSS has reportedly placed requests for the asset declaration forms submitted by the judges to the CCB.
“As of today, the ministry is still obtaining statements from the judiciary officers. You will recall that apart from the raw cash recovered from the judges, documents relating to the assets linked to some of the Justices were also recovered from their houses. So, since it has to do with assets, the DSS thought it wise to place request to the CCB for their asset declaration forms. We should be able to compare the forms they submitted to the CCB and the evidence of the ownership of the assets linked to them,” an unnamed source told Punch.
Meanwhile, there were indications on Monday that the judges might be arraigned before a Magistrate’s Court, Life Camp, Abuja, any moment from now.
Journalists and some lawyers, who had anticipated that the detained judges might be arraigned on Monday, converged on the premises of the court at about 11am.
But they later dispersed at about 5pm after it was evident that the arraignment would no longer take place.
Judges of the Federal High Court in Abuja, whose colleague, Justice Adeniyi Ademola, was among the judges arrested during the weekend, did not sit on Monday.
One of the judges reportedly disclosed that they could not sit because they were in bad mood due to the weekend incident.
The trial of a former Governor of Imo State, Ikedi Ohakim, that was supposed to come up before Justice Ademola on Monday was stalled.
Also, the ongoing trial of the immediate past Chief of Air Staff, Alex Badeh, for money laundering was part of a number of cases that ought to come up before Justice Okon Abang, but could not proceed.
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