A human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has cautioned the Federal Government against the use of operatives of the Department of State Services to harass judges ‘whose fidelity to integrity cannot be questioned’.
He also warned against arrest of judges at night, saying such could be used as a guise by criminal elements to prosecute their untoward intention.
Falana made this call in a paper he delivered at the opening ceremony of the Law Week of the Enugu Division of the Nigerian Bar Association on Monday.
The paper sighted by our correspondent on Wednesday is titled, ‘Allegations of Corruption in the Justice Delivery Sector: Implications for the Rule of Law and Democracy’.
Falana, who faulted the recent midnight invasion of the houses of some judges, asked the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), to accept liability for the harassment suffered by a Federal High Court judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, for doing no wrong, during the recent raid on his house by operatives of the DSS.
Falana said since the minister had claimed to have authorised the raid, he should apologise to Justice Dimgba.
He said, “Since the Attorney-General of the Federation has admitted that he authorised the raid on some judges’ homes at night, he is vicariously liable for the illegality of the invasion of the house of Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court.
“From the information at my disposal, the ‘offence’ committed by the judge was that he had ordered the SSS to produce a detainee in a fundamental right application pending in his court. Since Justice Dimgba has never been associated, even remotely, with corrupt practices, he deserves an unreserved apology from the federal government. In prosecuting the war against corruption the SSS should not be allowed to harass judges whose fidelity to integrity cannot be questioned.”
He said even though he supported the campaign aimed to rid the judiciary of its bad eggs, the “nocturnal raid” on the houses of the judges was unacceptable.
He said, “Even though I support the purge of the judiciary, I am unable to persuade myself to endorse the nocturnal raid of the official quarters of corrupt judges. More so, that leading politicians of the ancient regime and scores of military officers accused of criminal diversion of public funds have not been subjected to such bizarre indignity.”
He recalled his personal experience in 1990 when he was kidnapped by some criminals under the guise of arrest by the DSS.
He said, “Under successive military dictatorships in Nigeria, the NSO/SSS carried out several nocturnal raids on my home in a desperate move to cow me to submission.
“I always opened my doors ajar whenever the security operatives came calling. However, on April 8, 1990, after the night raid of my house I was arrested at about 4.15 am and driven to the outskirts of Lagos along the lonely Epe road and dumped in the bush by the operatives of the SSS. Simultaneously, the home of the late Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti was invaded. He too was arrested and driven to Ijanikin along Badagry road where he was abandoned in the bush by his abductors.”