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Nigeria: Lawmakers blast gestapo raids on judges

Published On : Wednesday, October 12 2016

LAGOS, Nigeria

Nigeria’s Senate Tuesday condemned weekend raids on the homes and arrest of at least seven judges, arguing that the secret police’s “Gestapo-like” approach was antithetical to democracy and the rule of law.
But the Senate failed to summon the secret police chief to explain the operation, the first of its kind in the country's history. Instead, it called on security agencies to “stay within the limits” of the law in carrying out their operation.
“Any anti-corruption action that goes against the rule of law does not help the fight against corruption,” Senate President Bukola Saraki said after the motion was adopted and its recommendations passed on to the parliamentary Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters.
The motion condemning the raid was sponsored by Senator Joshua Ladan and seconded by his colleague Dino Melaiye. Both insisted that the secret police had acted outside its purview.
"What will the international community think of us with our gestapo approach?" opposition People’s Democratic Party Senator Chukwuka Utazi said in supporting the motion.
But a few other senators, including Bala Na’alah, cautioned that the secret police was acting within its mandate. They blocked an attempt to summon the chief of the Department of State Security (DSS), or secret police.
However, the House of Representatives has directed DSS head Lawal Daura to appear before its Judiciary Committee to “explain where they derive the powers to arrest” the judges.
In nationwide anti-corruption raids last Friday and Saturday, seven judges were arrested after their homes were ransacked by secret police operatives who recovered over $800,000 cash that authorities said were proceeds of corruption.
All the judges have now been granted bail on self-recognition, according to Justice Ministry and secret police sources who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking with the media.
“They may be arraigned this week or next, depending on the outcome of collaboration between the secret police and the National Judicial Council (NJC),” one of the sources told Anadolu Agency.
“We had to release them within 24 hours of their arrest since we have not concluded their charges because we don't want to play into the hands of the naysayers,” he added.
President Muhammadu Buhari – who has repeatedly complained of the rot in the judiciary – has said the secret police acted within the law, and decried claims their actions smack of dictatorship.
The National Judicial Council, which is responsible for the welfare and discipline of judical officers, is due to meet on the development later today.

"Source:aanews"