It was gathered that the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, has forwarded the names of more judges to the Department of State Services, DSS, for investigation.
The DSS had arrested seven judges last weekend.
The DSS said it was investigating eight other judges and with the six names submitted to the DSS by the AGF, 21 judges are now under investigation.
It was gathered that the AGF’s letter was personally delivered at the DSS headquarters in Abuja by a senior aide.
The new names on the minister’s list, it was learnt, included two Chief Judges of High Courts, three judges of different divisions of the Federal High Court, and a Justice of the Court of Appeal.
The letter, containing the names, was accompanied by the summary of allegations levelled against the judges in the petitions earlier sent by individuals to the NJC by the Chairman of Civil Society Network Against Corruption as well as Human and Environmental Development Agenda Resource Centre between 2014 and May, 2016.
One of the petitions sent to the NJC against one of the Chief Judges, dated February 26, 2016, and signed by the Chairman of CSNAC, Mr. Olanrewaju Suraju, was titled ‘‘Request for investigation of contravention of the Code of Conduct by Judicial Officers.’’
Another petition by CSNAC against a Federal High Court judge was dated May 12, 2016.
Another petition, dated January 11, 2016, by CSNAC, also accused a Chief Judge of judicial misconduct, an allegation which its details were not stated.
CSNAC, also in another petition, dated April 20, 2016, sent to the NJC against a Justice of the Court of Appeal and others, who served on an election petitions appeal panel this year, accused the panel of receiving N8m from a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
Yet, another petition accused the SAN of paying N500,000 into the account of a Chief Judge; another alleged that N7m was paid to a Chief Judge for a book presentation as well as a petition that a Federal High Court judge received N5m bribe from a SAN.
The AGF’s letter, forwarding the names to the DSS, described as unconscionable the alleged failure of the NJC to investigate the petitions.
The letter read in part, “It is unconscionable that all these petitions that border on the unremitting and impeachment of the integrity of these judicial officers have not been investigated by the National Judicial Council, the constitutional and statutory body vested with the power by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) to so do.
“Undoubtedly, if this type of deliberate inattentiveness; lethargy and benign neglect and dereliction of responsibility by the NJC is allowed to persist in an administration that came to power under the mantle of change, it will surely lead to the death knell of the judicial branch of government, which centrality the maintenance of law, order, rule of law and social harmony cannot be overemphasised.
“It is unfortunate that despite the preachment of the administration on the need for the judicial officers to be above board, we still have some of them that have stubbornly refused to change from their old ways.”