With the ongoing clampdown on judges for alleged corrupt practices, outspoken Senator, Shehu Sani, on Monday said the three arms of Nigeria’s government – Executive, Legislature and Judiciary – are now bugged by corruption.
Mr. Sani, the All Progressives Congress Senator representing Kaduna Central, said this in the wake of the sting operation conducted by the State Security Service, leading to the arrest of some judges for alleged corrupt practices.
In the early hours of Saturday, SSS operatives raided residences of some judges Gestapo style. No few than 15 judges are under investigation, with 7 already in custody.
Mr. Sani said the allegations against the judges completed a circle of corruption running around the three arms of government in Nigeria.
“With mountains of allegations of corruption in the kitchen cabinet of Mr. President; with mountains of allegations of corruption in the Parliament; with mountains of allegations of corruption in the Judiciary, now we are having a three Arms of corruption,” said Mr. Sani.
Key members of the President’s Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, including the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari; Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi; and Interior Minister, Abdurhaman Dambazzau, have come under spotlight for alleged corrupt practices.
In the National Assembly, apart from the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who is facing trial for alleged false asset declaration; fugitives like Buruji Kashamu and Joshua Dariye; and former governors like Danjuma Goje and Godswill Akpabio have cases with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. Also, the Speaker of the House of Representatives was accused of corruption and abuse of office in the 2016 budget process by Abdulmumin Jibrin, former appropriations committee chairman.
Mr. Sani, in a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES, said the action of the SSS amounted to “sadism” and smacked of totalitarianism if due process was not followed.
“The raid on the residences of the Supreme Court judges if done with a proper court order is justified but if done without a proper court order is nothing but sadism.
“Support for search or arrest without warrant irrespective of the gravity of suspicion is a tacit endorsement of tendencies of a totalitarian state,” the Senator said.
But if the SSS followed due process of law, he continued, defending the judges despite “evidences of harvest of cash in their houses is nothing but wholesale endorsement of corruption.”
The SSS has defended its action, saying it acted within provisions of the law. Similarly, the presidency said the action was not a war against the Judiciary, but against corruption, assuring of regard for the bench.
Admonishing the judiciary, Mr. Sani said the bench “should not be and must not be a cash counter.”
He added that, “impunity is rooted in a society where Justice is for the highest bidder; corrupt Judges are merchants of Justice; and commercialization of Justice puts Justice on tender.”
He also warned the Federal Government against tyrannical tendencies, and breaching law to pursue its anti-corruption fight.
The lawmaker said: “For the SSS and the Federal Government this is my take:
1-Rule of law is the most potent weapon in the fight against corruption in a democratic society;
2-Each time we circumvent the rule of law for expediency, we reinforce the pillar of tyranny.
3-It’s not the good we achieve when we cut short the rule of law, it’s the evil that could be justified using the same route.
4-Whatever you achieve using the rule of law is insured against moral stain.
5-To break the law in order to enforce the law is to extinguish the flame of justice upon which the rule of law is alighted.”
While stressing that the Judiciary risks losing public confidence if “rulings turn to products of transaction”, he warned that security agencies should not be immune from respect for rule of law.
“We must not give a blank cheque to security agencies which can be abused,” he said.