The opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has described the arrest of judges in some states across Nigeria as a “descent to fascism”.
The party, in a statement by its spokesperson, Dayo Adeyeye, on Sunday, described the arrests of some Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria and the Federal High Court in their homes in the early hours of Saturday by men of the Directorate of State Security Service, SSS, as “Gestapo like invasions”.
The affected Justices of the Supreme Court were, Sylvanus Ngwuta and Inyang Okoro, while the Judges of the Federal High Court were Muazu Pindiga, Adeniyi Ademola, Abdullahi Liman and Nnamdi Dimgba.
PDP said Justices Ngwuta, Okoro, Adeniyi and Pindiga had been abducted and detained, while Justice Dimgba only escaped abduction because he was not in when the DSS operatives arrived at his home.
“Justice Abdullahi’s abduction was prevented by the timely intervention of Governor Nyesom Wike, who insisted on the observance of the rule of law and the application of due process.
“Governor Nyesom Wike was assaulted by the men of the DSS during his intervention, causing him to sustain injuries on his arm. At a point, an officer pointed a fully cocked gun at him and threatened to shoot him,” the party said.
“During the invasion, the Justices were manhandled and members of their families as well as their household staff beaten up.
“This invasion is the latest in a series of actions taken by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, which reveal its disregard for the rule of law and its abject disdain for the Principle of Separation of Powers.
“This inexorable slide into fascism began with the invasion of the Akwa Ibom State Government House by the self same DSS, the continued detention of several people despite Courts ordering their release, the invasion of the Ekiti State House of Assembly and detention of Hon. Akanni Afolabi and the invasion of the Zamfara State House of Assembly.
“This slide into fascism has included a sustained attack on the leadership of the National Assembly as President Buhari has sought to break its independence and make it a rubber stamp to suit his will,” it said.
PDP said no president in the history of Nigeria has ever attacked the Judiciary in such a manner.
It said “even the late dictator, General Sani Abacha, whose regime is remembered by many as the second worst regime in Nigerian history, did not carry out such Gestapo style attacks on the members of the Judiciary.
“By bringing this attack to the Judiciary, President Buhari has shown that he has no desire to respect the pillars of our democracy. He has shown his desire to kill off our democracy and convert it to an autocracy without checks and balances,” the party said.
PDP said the Nigerian government has no regard for the rule of law.
“They do not care about court orders. This government has disregarded the orders of the ECOWAS Court and every other court in the land and continue to detain Dasuki illegally. They continue to detain hundreds of Nigerians without bringing them to trial and against valid court orders.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Constitution in Section 153(1) (i) and Part 1 of the Third Schedule thereto establishes the National Judicial Council (NJC) and empowers same to regulate and discipline judges across the country. The proper path to follow to discipline erring judges will be to forward a petition containing any wrong doing to the NJC along with any evidence in support thereof.
“The path not to follow is this Gestapo style invasion in the middle of the night that involves the use of sledgehammers to breakdown gates and front doors for DSS to gain access to the homes.
“Nigerians can no longer afford to stand aside and watch the Buhari Administration destroy the foundations of our democracy that we have built for several years. Nigerians have a duty to speak out against this sort of tyranny,” the party said.