Order SSS to release arrested judges immediately, SERAP tells Buhari


The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has sent an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari requesting him to use his “good offices and leadership to urgently instruct the Department of State Service, DSS, to immediately and unconditionally release all the judges arrested by them and to ask the DSS to end continuing intimidation and harassment of the judiciary.”

The organization said that, “If following the receipt and/or publication of this letter, your government fails or refuses to immediately and unconditionally release the judges as requested, SERAP would promptly consider appropriate legal options nationally and internationally to ensure the full and effective implementation of our requests.”

SERAP’s letter dated October 9, 2016 and signed by its executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni said that, “We are seriously concerned about the wave of arrests, intimidation and harassment of judges across the country by the DSS. While we fully support the government’s efforts to eradicate judicial corruption, we cannot accept anticorruption strategies and methods which patently offend the rule of law and undermine the authority, integrity, sanctity and independence of the judiciary.”

The letter copied to both Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Monica Pinto, UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers reads in part: “SERAP believes that strategies and methods to sanction suspected corrupt judges must never have an inhibiting or chilling effect on the authority, sanctity, integrity and independence of the judiciary.”

“Uncertainty of the processes and grounds on which suspected corrupt judges can be sanctioned would affect the capacity of all judges to act independently, and public confidence in the judiciary. Judges, like other constitutional functionaries must face the law if they depart from or deceive the law, such as when they are suspected of engaging in corruption. But what the DSS has done is a blow to the independence of judiciary, and a dangerous precedent that should not be allowed to stand.”

“The value of the principle of judicial independence is that it protects judges from arbitrary sanctions by the Government. The way this country dispenses justice and treats its judges will show the moral and legal character to which it can pretend.”

“SERAP is concerned that the action by the DSS if allowed to stand or continue, would make judges susceptible to pressure from the executive. Thus, instead of fulfilling the stated aim of eradicating judicial corruption, the actions of the DSS has served to undermine the independence of the judiciary in Nigeria, and reinforce the practices under successive governments of undue political interference in the judiciary.”

“Judicial accountability must respect the fundamental principles of the independence of the judiciary and the separation of powers, and its proceedings must be in line with constitutional and international standards of due process and fair trial. Indeed, international standards require that the bodies responsible for sanctioning corrupt judges should be independent from the government, and that any legal sanction against suspected corrupt judges must be determined in accordance with well-established procedures that guarantee the rights of judges to a fair and transparent trial, and to an independent review.”

“One of the cardinal pillars of the rule of law is an independent judiciary. Without a judiciary that is independent, the concept of rule of law becomes a mockery. The requirement of independence and impartiality does not exist for the benefit of the judges and prosecutors themselves, but rather for court users as a part of their inalienable right to a fair trial.”

SERAP therefore urged President Buhari to:

1. Urgently instruct the DSS to immediately and unconditionally release all the judges arrested by them, and to end continuing intimidation and harassment of the judiciary across the country;

2. Publicly commit that your government will not seek to undermine the integrity, sanctity, authority and independence of the judiciary in its efforts to combat judicial corruption;

3. Avoid any action that tends to weak judiciary independence and public confidence in the judiciary;

4. Ensure that justice is not only done, but must also appear to be done in the fight against judicial corruption;

5. Promptly, thoroughly, transparently and impartially investigate attacks against judges by DSS and bring to justice anyone responsible

“According to reports, two Justices of the Supreme Court– Justices Sylvester Ngwuta and John Okoro–were arrested after a raid on their homes in Abuja by operatives of the DSS early Saturday morning. The two men are said to be currently in the DSS custody in Abuja. Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court in Abuja was also said to be arrested by the operatives of the DSS after breaking into his official residence at about 1am on Saturday.”

“There are also reports of invasion of the houses and harassment of judges of the Federal High Court in Abuja, Gombe and Port Harcourt, Rivers State. The raids on the judges’ houses were reportedly carried out at 2am. The official residence of another judge of the Federal High Court in Abuja, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba was also searched. SERAP notes that at least two of the judges had recently ruled against the DSS and condemned its disregard of the laws of the land during its operations.”

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  • Dafe O. Imafidon



    I am not for release of criminals. I don’t agree with SERAP. I agree with the State Security Service (SSS)
    that the Justices of Supreme Court will remain inside prison throughout today and they will be brought
    to court on Monday to face charges of bribery and corruption. That’s the right way to do things. Nobody
    is above the law. These Judges will sleep inside prison tonight and come to court tomorrow to say what
    they know about how all this money entered into their bedroom if they did not invite the bribes from
    those who wanted to buy injunction at 400,000 dollars FOR INTERLOCUTORY INJUNCTION.

    A Judge should not be doing moneylaundering like a common criminal by hiding bribes inside
    his bedroom. A Judge must not turn his bedroom into a Bureau de Change. All this nonsense
    our journalists were saying before has been exposed. The lawyers who call themselves are
    EMPTY-HEADED LAWYERS. They buy injunctions and pay the Judges for stay of proceeding.
    Journalists will be fooled that these so-called S.A.N lawyers are brilliant – they are not smart.
    They are criminals. They buy judgments. They are not practising any law. They are only
    practising as hardened S>AN criminals. It pains me that only Ricky Tarfa is facing trial.
    I can tell you that 90% of the useless so-called S.A.N lawyers cannot speak English.

    • God dey

      I absolutely agree with SERAP on this. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Assuming the judges are corrupt, the govt should occupy a high moral ground by following due process of law as suggested by SERAP rather than taking the law into its own hands and treating the judges like common criminals. Even the legislooters are not so badly treated. Today are judges, tomorrow may be journalists, and the day after may be you and I. Jail corrupt judges but don’t ask DSS which has absolutely nothing to do with corruption to go to judges’ houses 2am. Allow EFCC to do its job, and the NJC, and let’s name and shame corrupt judges but not in an arbitrary way. Thank you SERAP for this principled position.

      • Ijeuwa

        Get informed! After initial investigations, the DSS presented evidence of corruption to the NJC. What did the NJC do? They recommended retirement for just two or three of the corrupt judges, and where silent on the others. So what do you do in such a circumstance? Don’t forget that every Nigerian citizen is empowered by the Constitution to effect arrest on reasonable grounds.
        If we’re serious about fighting corruption, we need to be firm. Hiding behind the ‘rule of law’ to perpetrate fraud should stop. And the way to stop it is to start jailing the judges who enable it in the first place. NONSENSE AND INGREDIENTS!

        • Truthman

          Every Nigerian citizen is empowered by the Constitution to effect arrest on reasonable grounds? So I am empowered to effect arrest?

          • Ijeuwa

            Of course, if you have a good enough reason to do so.

  • Omooba Adekunle Orafidiya

    SERAP should shut the hell up. I wholeheartedly support the raid on the homes of these Bureau de Change Operators masquerading as judicial officers. If the Judiciary had been forthright, Muhammadu Buhari would never have become President on account of certificate forgery and perjury. It is the same Judiciary that Tinubu compromised to “purchase” Osun and Ekiti States back in 2010. So, this comeuppance is well-deserved. Meanwhile, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court (Ibrahim Auta) should also be subjected to the same treatment as he is one of the richest men in Africa.

    • Omoroyo

      @disqus_adrUdD9Atb:disqus : Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court in Abuja was

      arrested by the SSS operatives of the DSS after breaking into his official residence at about 1am on

      Saturday. Nearly 400,000 U.S dollars was found in his bedroom. He has a case to answer. Ditto,

      two other Justices of the Supreme Court have been arrested and locked up in prison to await trial.

      They are Supreme Court Justices Sylvester Ngwuta and John Okoro.

      • Truthman

        Were you there when it was found? Please put allegedly found!

  • Aliyu

    @Omooba Adekunle Orafidiya:disqus



    • God dey

      Pls get the argument right; the govt must jail corrupt judges but should not use this as a ploy to intimidate the judiciary because not all judges are corrupt. When you intimidate and scare all judges you take away their independence. That is exactly the point and I 100% agree with SERAP on this one

      • Paul Onocheme


        Speak for yourself. Who told you we want corrupt Judges to face firing squad?
        We don’t want too much bloodshed in Nigeria. We cannot afford to shed blood.
        The best thing is to behead corrupt Judges of the courts; not to do firing squad.

      • Rommel

        There is no judge whose hands are clean that would be caught in this sting operation,enough of all these hypocrisy,we all know that it has to take such actions if corruption is to be fought,the judiciary have believed for far too long that they are untouchable and we all know that absolute power corrupts absolutely,this immunity they have enjoyed since independence of Nigeria has made them the most corrupt arm of government because no government has had the courage to act on reports of probe of that arm of government and so if now something is being done about the ugly situation,we have to give thanks to almighty God for giving us Buhari instead of condemning him,who is happy about how Nigeria became one of the most corrupt nations on earth,are you happy with that reputation?

      • Abdul

        Which judge was not corrupt but intimidated? You guys should allow us fight the evil among us please.

  • Aliyu




    • Elder Ben

      Please look into the case of the
      Judge who gave perpetual injunction to Peter Odili saying that EFCC must never
      investigate or arrest Peter Odili for life. That Judge must not be allowed to
      go free. He has spoilt the whole thing called Legal Profession. Whilst doing
      that Peter Odili’s lawyer too must be arrested to cross-check for conspiracy
      because it is from conspiracy that bribes are offered and accepted. We cannot
      pretend that criminals dressed in black robe are MY LORD. They cannot be my own
      lord. Only Jesus Christ is my own lord. Any other ground is shifting sand.

      • Alkali

        The corruption BUHARI sweeps under carpet: CENTRAL BANK audit result

        • ₦38.23billion developed legs and got missing in Central Bank under Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.
        • ₦160billion was taken by Sanusi Lamido at the Central Bank for self-determined spending.
        • ₦1.12billion was taken as spent by Sanusi Lamido on lunch for 12 CBN police guards
        in one year.
        • ₦1.12billion was taken in cash and entered in the account as paid to a non-operating airline
        for charter service.
        • ₦240billion was discretionally doled out at will as ‘donations’ by Sanusi Lamido.
        • ₦1.97billion was paid out in cash and entered on Central Bank accounts as “inexplicable
        expense” by Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.
        • ₦20billion was entered as paid out in cash as Legal Fees by Sanusi Lamido to persons
        • ₦3.086billion was taken by Sanusi Lamido and written off as expense ostensibly to promote
        Central Bank image.

      • Born Again


        …SSS must give the detained supreme court judges good food….like jollof rice……
        and with chicken too….with plenty of salad and goat meat, not fried but boiled…..
        …..when you put billionaire JUDGES inside prison cell…it will cost SSS money….
        billionaire JUDGES cannot drink garri with groundnut….therefore SSS must….
        ….order 3-course food from Sheraton Hotel for these billionaire judges detained…..
        and also…..SSS must buy flit to make sure no mosquito can come near the cell…
        ….SHELLTOX or BAYGON are very good to kill mosquitoes in the Judges’ cell……

      • Pastor J. J. Jones

        “A corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders,
        adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, and, blasphemies. The love of money is the root
        of all evil; which, while some coveted after, they erred from faith and pierced themselves with

        For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?
        The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a vanity tossed to and fro of those
        that seek death. There are thorns and snares on the path of the crooked.
        Anyone who guards himself prudently will stay far from the crooked.

        Brethren, you shall not steal. Theft entails deceit; and in a heart where
        the spirit of deceit is, there, the spirit of God cannot be.”

        ………HOLY BIBLE

  • Contact Point

    SERAP should sharaap or be scraped or proscribed.

    • God dey

      How can u say that an org should be proscribed? Imagine if you are the president. No one will be able to comment oonline because you will also “proscribe” the media! And “proscribe” everything. What a joke of a wasted generation

  • Rommel

    Na wao! we don suffer,everybody is now issuing threats against federal government,oya! they should go and release the said individuals

  • Ubong

    This piece by SERAP is non democratic. Yes, judiciary is a highly respected institution in civilized democracies.In Nigeria, SERAP know our judiciary/ regulatory body NJC is more of a political institution that need complete overhaul to bring in back in line with other world judiciary. SERAP are witnesses to series of corrupt, biased and lack of common sense and technicality in most pronouncement by our so called people they are seeing as above the law. Our endemically corrupt judiciary transcend to INEC and every other institution becoming a rotten cesspit. We have CCB/CCT becoming a tool for selective political persecution. INE|C accepting gullibility of Nigerian voters of not knowing their rights and then dance to the corrupt political flaw system, take Kogi election as an example, voters voted for late Audu, just like Buhrai on purely their personalities and integrity(NOT APC) but INEC accepted a flaw replacement of a candidate without due diligence of giving voters the choice to say ye or no to the illegal replacement. SERAP should not turn themselves into a toothless body that sees nothing bad when abuses is being carry out but only when it concerns their kinds. Judges should be arrested if they are found wanting. They are not above the law and we should support it, if it is not going to be like the current lopsided political witch-hunt coded WAR AGAINST CORRUPTION, that at moment is a war against those that have refuse to join APC (AREWA PEOPLE CONGRESS) and become saints automatically.

    • God dey

      This piece makes no sense to me. What is your contribution? Should corrupt judges be jailed arbitrarily? Yes or No?

      • Ubong

        they should be investigated and treated like every other alleged corrupt Nigerians if found to have committed any crime. Era of just retiring them should never be supported. I never voted Buhari or support most of his lopsided/selective actions but i am totally in support of this action t sanitize an institution that is so rotten and becoming a national disgrace. Judges are not above the law and you and I know that the in institution is long overdue for reform, if we really and honestly want our democracy to develop. No Nigerian should be jailed or arrested arbitrarily but if found wanting, consequences must be as stipulated by our constitution . Law must be seen to be equal and fairly interpreted by those entrusted with the lives of the citizen

  • Abdul

    What is wrong with this SERAP people, judges were arrested because there is evidence of corruption and subversion of justice against them now you are asking the federal govt to release them. If that is how criminals are released in other countries the world would have been a terrible place to live.

    SERAP should try to separate criminals from non criminals within the judicial system. When judges are bribed to subvert justice then the automatically become criminal. Law enforcement agents are empowered by law to arrest criminals and that is what they have done.

    • Truthman

      You have to be sure if there’s evidence, the evidence is not planted. Let them be charged to court and let’s hear their own version of the story.

  • Mama Kay

    Useless people. The masses are in support of the arrest of the fraudulent judges.

    Write your letter to whoever you want but we voted Buhari to fight corruption in all sectors of the government.

    • God dey

      Listen to yourself. What a joke of a wasted generation

  • Taiwo

    Many of the commentators here (Ubong, Orafidiya, Aliyu and other nicknames) do not understand the full implications of what is happening either because of excitement, age or lack of historical knowledge.

    Human life used to be sacred in Nigeria until October 1986 when IBB assassinated Dele Giwa via a letter bomb. From that time till today, the use of hired assassins to exterminate opponent became the order of the day.

    Today, Buhari has laid another bad precedent, by undermining and destroying a key institution of the State. From now on, we will begin to see future presidents and governors arresting and imprisoning judges for giving judgements against them. From now on, we will begin to see ordinary citizens hiring thugs to attack judicial officers in order to extract favourable judgements.

    This is not to say that the Nigerian judiciary is not heavily corrupt. Yes it is! But fighting corruption is not the duty of SSS, that duty belongs to the EFCC. Where structural changes are required to fight judicial corruption e.g. via the NJC, the President is empowered to initiate necessary legislation. But Buhari displayed his incompetence when he looked the other way as Saraki & PDP elements seized control of the parliament thinking that the crude methods of 1983 will work in 2016. Let’s wait and see.

  • Ijeuwa

    Would the so called serap be saying this if those arrested were not judges? Are judges above the law? When they are brought to court, are they not going to be tried by fellow judges? Nonsense and ingredients. Many of these so-called human rights groups are funded by proceeds of corruption. Wasn’t Melaye among those who were fighting corruption? He even had his own organization. Nonsense and ingredients!

    • God dey

      Read their statement again, I don’t think SERAP is saying that judges are above the law. Corrupt judges must be jailed but this has to be within the limit of the law and not DSS going to judges’ houses 2am to harass judges and their family members

      • Ijeuwa

        Everything the DSS did was within the law. The law didn’t stipulate at what time an arrest could be effected.

  • Eldorado

    Since SERAP has decided to ensure that Nigeria keeps running round in vicious circles, let them continue their stand with the Nigerian Bribe Association (NBA) while the government gives we the people tribunals or special courts to access justice period!

  • ijelejames

    SERAP or whatever your call your corrupt organization should go and take a sit. We the Nigerian masses are thrilled with what the government is doing. Democracy is not working because the judiciary is holding the country to ransom. So what do you want the executive to do? To watch these judges destroy Nigeria. No, it is about time we practice our own type of democracy or whatever works. Judges should do their jobs without bribery and corruption and they will not be arrested.

    • God dey

      Oh my God! This is all the comments you can make on this forum? What a joke of a watsed generation

      • ijelejames

        Shut up your gut

  • Watch man

    Mr. SERAP, kindly find something better to do. If those judges are alleged to be corrupt and may likely not honor invitation, what is wrong in SSS arresting them? Judges are part of Nigeria’s problems and they must be tamed.

    • God dey

      Listen to yourself. I am 100% in support of SERAP on this. No country governed by the rule of law must resort to the rule of force. We all want corrupt judges jailed and named and shamed, and I think this is what SERAP is saying but things must be done rightly. Arbitrariness does no one any good

  • Bayo Ola

    May Sango strike you this SERAP and all these NBA people. You these crazy assholes think we can continue like this as a nation? You are asking law enforcement agencies not to arrest criminals even when they have culpable reasons to do so? Adetokunbo Mumuni and co, please be advised the revolution will consume you and all you these crooked SAN lawyers and judges in Nigeria. Enough is enough!! May Orunmila strike you all with aarun ti ogboo gun

    • Kay Soyemi (Esq.)

      Bruv, chill out.

      Toks doesn’t support criminality and will never. He is rapidly evolving into the Gani of our times simply because he has consistently, and successfully too, called out the govt on moves that could undermine the rule of law. Disagree with him if you want, but biko, e never reach that level.

      Having stated that, Toks, you are on your own with this particular call.

      The move by Buhari is first class in my opinion and I have seen no legal contravention in the arrests. Our judges have failed to judge themselves and dispense justice impartially. Worse still, they have become a clog in the wheel of justice and suffocating the system with impunity. As the Executive is tasked with enforcing the law, this is one duty I lustily applaud because of the sobering effect it would have on those who came to Equity with soiled hand.

      Judicial rascality has no place in rule of law and must be tamed. People need to be afraid of the consequences of their actions, so do judges.

      Once more, Toks, on this matter, na O-Y-O you dey o.

    • blueeyedkitten


  • blueeyedkitten

    All these SERAP id!ots should be raided by the DSS ASAP. Wallahi i’m getting tired of this useless-slow-motion democracy.
    We need Duterte!