There seems to be no let-up in the ongoing attempt to clean the Augean stable in the judiciary as the Department of State Services (DSS) is set to arrest three more justices of the Supreme Court. Highly placed sources told New Telegraph that two of the apex court’s justices to be picked up are from the Southern part of the country.
“Except the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmoud Mohammed, intervened on behalf of the three justices to guarantee their appearances before the DSS for interrogation, they will be arrested any moment from now,” one of the sources told New Telegraph.
The source told our correspondent that the DSS has concrete evidences of the involvement of the justices in corruption practices. They were alleged to have jointly shared in bribe over a case. “We have recorded voices and videos of their involvement in corruption.
Some of their fronts and relations we have quizzed have made useful statements indicting them. So, we have confessions from those we have quizzed on some assets and accounts owned by the judges. “We didn’t just arrest some judges; it was the last leg of the investigative procedure.
We have petitions against them and we have been investigating them for over seven months. “As you are aware, we have arrested two justices of the Supreme Court. We are in the process of picking up three others from the apex court. There are other judges still under investigation.
“In the course of our investigation, we have traced money and properties to the relations, children and fronts of the judges. Some of these people have been interrogated and they have made useful confessional statements, which were duly recorded, to be used as evidence against the judges upon arraignment.”
A total of seven justices of the highest court of the land are being investigated by the DSS in connection with alleged corrupt practices. The planned arrest will bring to five the number of Supreme Court justices that would have been arrested, as Justices John Okoro and Sylvester Nguta were picked up on Saturday morning.
They have since been released. The Secret Service had, last weekend, embarked on sting operations across the country, leading to the arrests of former Chief Judge of Enugu State, Justice Innocent Umezulike, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, and Justice Adeniyi Ademola, both of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Other judges arrested were: Justice Kabiru Auta of Kano State High Court, as well as Justice Muazu Pindiga of the Federal High Court, Gombe. A competent source, who spoke in confidence with New Telegraph yesterday, said the DSS has established prima facie cases against the justices, to warrant their possible arraignment in court next week. For instance, investigators are said to have traced choice properties and bank accounts allegedly owned by the justices undergoing investigation.
The source revealed that some of the properties and accounts were acquired using the names of their children, nephews and other fronts. Determined to present watertight cases against the affected justices, this newspaper learnt that operatives are currently analysing the call logs of the senior judicial officers, with a view to establishing their conversations within a given period. This development, the source added, will help the secret service to also trace those that may have facilitated inducements of any nature.
To underscore the seriousness attached to the ongoing probe of alleged corrupt enrichment of these justices, the DSS is said to be intensifying efforts at tracing assets believed to have been acquired through alleged proceeds of crime.
While this lasts, there are indications that the headquarters of the DSS was being inundated with petitions against alleged ethical breaches by judicial officers. According to the source, since the DSS arrested some of the judges, there have been series of petitions against some judges.
These petitions, according to the source, bothers on alleged corruption. The security agency is also said to have furnished the National Judicial Council (NJC) with the development, even as it expects the highest judicial body to make some far-reaching recommendations, at the end of its meetings, which held on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“We are almost through with investigation. The ongoing investigation is not supposed to go beyond this week. “We have written the NJC about what has happened and we expect the NJC to take some decisions about the affected judges this week.
Once that is done, hopefully by next week or thereabouts, we should arraign them in court. “For now, more facts in the form of petitions are trickling in about the judg-es. It’s like everyone who has had cause to go to court for one reason or the other, has been a victim. “More facts are trickling in and we cannot ignore them.
It is our statutory responsibility to investigate painstakingly every complaint. Some victims have even indicated their readiness to testify in court,” he said. The source assured that the Service will do justice to all the petitions. On the alleged illegal acquisition of assets, the source noted: “We are investigating all the properties linked to them.
“The kind of things we observe as regards the forms they submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) is another kettle of fish. We discover a judge filling three different forms with different information either in terms of assets declared or even personal information like age. “Imagine one judge filling three different forms with different information just to deceive. Just as I said, we will do a thorough job.”