Former President of the NBA, Mr Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), has said that the Department of State Services, (DSS) has no reason to arrest judges.
He said this on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily following the recent raid on judges’ homes over alleged corruption, during which the DSS said that huge sums of money were recovered.
Mr Agbakoba argued that the DSS is not the same as the SSS and the competence of the DSS was questionable.
Questioning the authenticity of the DSS, he said that he was not aware if both agencies are one and the same and wondered if the DSS was really established by law as “it is not referred to in the National Security Services Act”.
Mr Agbakoba expressed shock over the actions of the agency saying “it is inconceivable that the judges could have been ‘stung’ by the DSS “when already five out of the seven judges were investigated and removed from office by the NJC”.
“The NBA never said if the judges are corrupt they are entitled to immunity or they should not be dealt with,” he said.
He totally disagreed with the manner of arrest, describing the act as “inhumane” even though the DSS claimed to have been issued a warrant prior to the raid.
“Even the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, under which they purportedly went, refers to humane treatment of people suspected of committing a crime.
“That type of treatment is reserved for the hardest criminals, you and I don’t deserve that,” he said.
He also stated that the DSS/SSS has a very narrow mandate which is to investigate crimes related to internal security rather than economic or financial crimes.
He asserted that they do not have the power to extend their roles from internal security to financial crimes.
While the DSS believes that it does not matter how an evidence is acquired as it will be counted valid in court, the Former NBA President said that although ‘evidential’ value is admissible, due process is constitutionally guaranteed.
Explaining further, he said “assuming the judges go forward to trial, and I am counsel to them, I will make a case that the constitutional guarantees given to them have been violated and that is fundamental.
“However if tomorrow they are responsible for what the DSS alleges, I will be the first to say please put them to court”.
He stressed that there is a process under the Administration of Criminal Justice Act that involves procurement of evidence and according to him, “the DSS has flouted every single one of them”.
The DSS spokesman, Abdullahi Garba, has said that the agency’s action is in line with its core mandate, as “we have been monitoring the expensive and luxurious lifestyle of some of the judges as well as complaints from the concerned public, over judgment obtained fraudulently”.
The National Judicial Council (NJC), has called for an emergency meeting to discus the arrest but it ended without a resolution Wednesday.