Buhari, SSS acted right on raid, arrest of judges – Obasanjo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo [Photo credit: dailypost.ng]

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has backed the State Security Services’ invasion of the homes of some Nigerian judges last month, saying the action was necessary to cleanse the judiciary.

Delivering a speech at the First Akintola Williams annual lecture in Lagos Wednesday, Mr. Obasanjo saluted the executive branch’s “necessary wisdom and courage to clean the dirty stable of the Judiciary.”

“Three weeks before the first three judges were arrested for corruption, I was talking to a fairly senior retired public officer who put things this way, ‘The Judiciary is gone, the National Assembly is gone, the military is sunk and the civil service was gone before them; God save Nigeria.’ I said a loud Amen,” Mr. Obasanjo said in the speech titled ‘Nigeria Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: Governance and Accountability.’

“Three weeks later, the process of saving the Judiciary began. And if what I have gathered is anything to go by, there may be not less than two score of judicial officers that may have questions to answer. That will be salutary for the Judiciary and for the Nation.”

An overnight assault, in early October, on some senior judges in six states across the country by the SSS resulted in the arrest of some of the judges.

Officials of the SSS told PREMIUM TIMES at the time that the operation was ordered after months of investigation, during which the secret police established credibly that the affected judges were involved in questionable financial dealings.

The crackdown on the senior members of the judiciary had generated heated debates across the country, with government critics accusing the executive arm of overstepping its powers.

But Mr. Obasanjo, who was president between 1999 and 2007, said the judiciary left the executive with no choice in the incident.

“While one would not feel unconcerned for the method used, one should also ask if there was an alternative,” the former president said.

“The National Judicial Council, NJC, would not do anything as it was all in-breeding. As now contained in our Constitution, the President of Nigeria cannot influence or make any appointment to the Judiciary at the Court of Appeal or Supreme Court level.

“He can only transmit the decision of the NJC to the Senate even where Senate confirmation is required. The Constitution which was heavily influenced by the Judiciary ensured that. And yet a drastic disease requires a drastic treatment. When justice is only for sale and can only be purchased by the highest bidder, impunity and anarchy would be the order of the day and no one would be safe.”

Last Monday, Sylvester Ngwuta, one of the judges whose homes was raided by the SSS, was arraigned before a federal court in Abuja.

Mr. Ngwuta, a Supreme Court judge, pleaded not guilty to 16 counts of money laundering.

Mr. Obasanjo said a drastic action was needed to save the situation in the judiciary, adding that an alternative that would serve the same purpose would have been preferred if it was available.

“In the absence of that alternative, we must all thank God for giving the President the wisdom, courage and audacity for giving the security agencies the leeway to act,” he said.

“And where a mistake was made in the action taken, correction must take place with an apology, if necessary.”

The former president also lashed out at Nigerian lawyers, saying that there would be virtually no corrupt judge without being aided by a member of the bar.

“The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, has the responsibility to clean up its own house and help with the cleaning of the Judiciary,” he said.

“It is heartening though that some members of the NBA have recently called for judicial reform. Such reform must be deep, comprehensive and entail constitutional amendments as appointment and disciplines of Judges are concerned.

“May God continue to imbue the Executive with the necessary wisdom and courage to clean the dirty stable of the Judiciary and the Bar for the progress and the image of our Nation.

“It must also be said that the good eggs within the Judiciary must be proud of themselves and we must not only be proud of them but also protect them and their integrity.”


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  • amah sossy

    I love you and will always do. You are visionary, fearless, hardworking and detribalize. The legacies you left for us will outlive us all ( EFCC, ICPC, Banking Reform, NDDC, 13% derivation, GSM, NIPPs, offshore / onshore dichotomy, Cabottage law, setting us free from the shackles of foreign debts and many more. No man is a saint as you are not one as I am not one either but your deeds speak louder and the echoes will keep reverberating in our minds if we are truthful enough to listen to them.

    • Charlico D’ Roma

      Thanks for the reminder of his performance while he held sway in office and those innovation/achievements were rubbished by his 2 immediate successors leaving us in this devastating state. He is not a saint but he did his best he can based on circumstance that surround him at that time.

      • VERITAS_ the rock of ages_

        i totally disagree. If you build a house outta mud under a waterfall do you expect the structure to stand the test of time? you encourage others to build their houses under same waterfalls. is it me or are Nigerians suffering from what is called “presidential action short term memories”? You are all so quick to forget his corruption and atrocities. Wow. Now i understand why Nigeria keeps going down the drain. when you are all so quick to forget the past and the mistakes. the moment you forget the past you are bound to make the same mistakes in the future. thats why we are here. OBJ is to blame for our bad leadership and corruption under democracy. He’s the father of Nigerian democratic corruption and impunity.

    • VERITAS_ the rock of ages_

      He was our 1st democratic elected leader after years of military rule so yes he would create new things. but i dispute he should be credited as the man who brought one of the items you mention above. I have heard Nigerians all credit GSM to this guy and it annoys me. GSM technology and services started in Nigeria the same year it started in over 75% of countries in the world. It is old technology but in 1998 it was made cheaper and technology was available for its successful entrance into the public domain. GSM was an invention that would boost the world economies, start a telecommunications revolution and change the world. Even if a half breed monkey/fire ant was our president in 1999, it would still have signed the paper that would allow GSM companies to invest and profit from Nigeria. So why dont you all credit the wheel, the internet and the international space station to him too. OBJ brought GSM my foot. Have you ever heard the Americans say clinton or bush brought GSM to the US? no. the inventors who started Vodafone are credited for GSM. its only Nigerians who credit a failed type writer generation old man for technological achievements.

      • Ismail Jamal

        Oga u lie. Give credit to the man that deserves it. GSM Technology was in which Nigeria ? Please stop misinforming people. The same gsm licenses were issued free by Abacha to his friends but never saw daylight. Obj came on board, revoked the licenses and auctioned them at $275M each. Before this time, other smaller west african countries had the technology deployed. So, what the crap are you talking about ?

        • Tested Ebooks

          GBAM lo ba tan

        • VERITAS_ the rock of ages_

          My friend you lie. GSM started long after abacha death. The mobile service available when abacha was alive and i had one of the 090 cell phones at the point was not GSM. was multi links 070 then GSm? GSM operates with sim cards and the previous services didnt use sim cards. Please when did Nigerians start using Telecom tech’s? from 2003+ i have been using ICT and computers since the late 80″s. so tell what you just said to Nigerians whom the internet is new to. And you still didnt answer my questions. How many countries in the world credit GSM technology to any of their presidents? besides you Nigerians. we can credit the Nigerian army use of tavor to Jonathan right? like he was the first globally to buy tavors. abegi.

    • FreeNigeria

      You forgot to add attempt to truncate the constitution (3rd term), introduction of money bags to NASS, Introduction of stealing our money overseas (Plane load of money seized in Uganda), Introduction of aids kidnapping a governor (Uba vs Ngige), blatant disregard to the law, turned our election process to selection process, the list of dishonorable achievements by OBJ is endless. may his like never to be to the human race again.

      • amah sossy

        I already said he’s not a saint, neither you are nor I am . But please stop misinforming the public about Uganda sizing Nigerian plane loaded with money.

        • FreeNigeria

          True or false that Nigeria plane loaded with Nigeria money was seized by Uganda? Maybe your godfather OBJ can help you answer it.

      • West

        You also forgot $16b spent on electricity with no single improvement

  • Dr Pat Kolawole Awosan

    Only thieves and looters as well as criminal-minded elements would not support the efforts of the DSS raids on judges and justices suspected of bribery to pervert the course of justice. DSS must conduct more raid against the justices and judges as well as the police stations including commissioners of police,to rid Nigeria public institutions of endemic corruption.

    • FreeNigeria

      Such raid needs to be conducted in OBJ and IBB residence too.

      • Abdulmojeed Nojeemdeen

        Something dey worry you

    • FEMI A USA

      You are brilliant and concern citizen. DSS need to do the same to NASS members. There should be no secret cows. This act will revolutionized our institutions. Clear them all the thieves.

  • thusspokez

    “But Mr. Obasanjo, who was president between 1999 and 2007, said the judiciary left the executive with no choice in the incident.”

    “While one would not feel unconcerned for the method used, one should also ask if there was an alternative,” the former president said.”

    It is not whether the executive arm government has alternative or not but whether the SSS’s actions are constitutional and follows due process or not. Dare I remind him that Nigeria is governed by the rule of law even if the thinks that they should be ignored .

  • Otile

    Obasanjo also said amen to recession and impending depression.

  • Abdulmojeed Nojeemdeen

    Even the devil spoke the truth once. This is the truth from the MAN, ebora owu. He does not fear or developer a cold feet in saying it as it is. Gbam!

  • Decimator

    Forget this man, periode.