Saturday, October 8, 2016 9:46 am
Operatives of Nigeria’s secret police, the Department of State Service were busy between late Friday and early Saturday morning searching and attempting to abduct judges from their residential apartments in some parts of the country, several reports have indicated.
In Abuja, operatives of the secret police invaded the home of two Justices of Supreme Court – Justices Walter Onnoghen and Sylvester Ngwuta at the Judicial Officers’ Quarters in Abuja, according to a report in the Punch newspaper.
Also invaded were the residences of two judges of the Federal High Court, Justices Adeniyi Ademola and Nnamdi Dimgba. Both Judges are neighbours at Apo Legislative Quarters, Abuja.
Justice Onnoghen was recently nominated as successor to the outgoing Chief Justice of Nigeria.
The newspaper reported that the DSS operatives broke into the residence of the Justices after surrounding them for some hours. Punch also reported that the security operatives eventually took Justice Ademola away at about 5am on Saturday after searching his house while a relation of Justice Dimgba was injured during a search on his residence.
There were reports that the security operatives presented search warrants to back up their operations.
Though DSS has not given reason for the invasion, Justices Ademola and Dimgba had in the past ordered the DSS to release some suspects in their custody. But the secret police have not always comply with the order.
In the same vein, it was learnt that that Justice Muazu Pindiga, who was the first chairman of the Rivers State Election Petition Tribunal was also arrested in Gombe on Friday.
In Rivers State, operatives DSS and policemen attempted to abduct a Federal High Court judge residing at Number 35 Forces Avenue in Port Harcourt
In a Government House press statement issued signed by Simeon Nwakaudu, the Special Assistant to Governor Wike said the illegal failed abduction was led by Mr Tosin Ajayi, Rivers State Director of the Department of State Services (DSS) and Rivers State Police Commissioner, Mr Francis Odesanya.
He added in the statement that operatives of DSS and threatened to shoot the Governor who came to the scene after he received security information on the invasion minutes after the operation started.
“The security operatives blocked the entrance of the residence of the Federal High Court judge at about 1am on Saturday morning, claiming that they were acting on orders from above. As they dragged Governor Wike, they insisted that they must be allowed to leave with the judge.
“However, the commotion attracted passersby and journalists who thronged the vicinity to know why hundreds of security agents in several Patrol vans had been mobilised.
“Upon the arrival of the national media, the Rivers State Director of the DSS, Mr Tosin Ajayi jumped into his vehicle and fled the scene,” Nwakaudu said.
However, addressing journalists, Rivers State Police Commissioner, Francis Odesanya said the two security agencies were at the scene because they received privileged information.
Odesanya claimed he was at the scene as a peace maker. He declined comments on why the Police joined the DSS to abduct a serving Federal High Court judge.
In an interview with journalists at the scene of the incident, Governor Wike declared that the reckless action of the security agencies portends danger to the nation’s democracy, noting that he is convinced that President Buhari is not aware of the level of impunity being perpetrated by Federal Securiy agencies.
Governor Wike stated that whatever the situation, the rule of law must prevail in a democratic setting. He said if the security agencies had a lawful directive to implement, they must follow due process .
“Not under my watch wiĺl I allow this kind of impunity to take place. That is why we are here. I don’t know which judge they were detailed to abduct. I didn’t bother myself to know which judge. All I am interested in is that, at this level, it is not allowed.
“He is not a criminal and he is not an armed robber. If the person has committed an offence, invite him. It is only when he refuses to honour the invitation that you can adopt this commando style.
“The Commissioner of Police is here, the Director of DSS is here. Their operatives cocked their guns and threatened to shoot me. I have never seen that before. Again , this is to tell you what we are facing . We know that more will come. For us in this state, we shall continue to resist it.”
Governor Wike added: “It doesn’t matter what it will cost. When you talk about liberty, sacrifices must be made. We are not trying to stop an arrest. All we are saying is that things must be done decently and in line with the rule of law.
“Rivers State is under siege. For you to see a governor out at this time of the day, something is wrong. A siege is an understatement. If this type of thing happens next time, the people will resist it to the last”.
The governor stressed: “They are trying to do something funny in this state, probably to declare a state of emergency.”the Government House statement said.