DSS: Buhari Govt Is Eroding Independence of Judiciary - Afe Babalola, Fayose
Legal Luminary, Chief Afe Babalola,SAN, and the Ekiti state governor, Mr Ayo Fayose, on Wednesday, reviewed the last weekend midnight arrest of some Judges and surmised that it is a flagrant erosion of the independence of the judicial arm.
The personalities, who described the situation as dangerous to the
country’s democracy, said if judges, who are occupying sacred
positions could be harassed and treated that way by the Department of
State Security(DSS) that nobody is safe under the President
Muhammadu Buhari administration.
Fayose specifically said he would continue to hold judiciary in high
esteem and do everything possible to ensure smooth and seamless
administration of justice in the country.
The duo spoke in Ado Ekiti during the foundation laying ceremony of the N1.29 billion worth Ekiti State new High Court Complex named after the Oluyin of Iyin Ekiti and the pioneer Chief Judge of the State, Justice Ademola Ajakaye.
They were reacting to the arrest of five judges, including two supreme
court justices by DSS and their subsequent arraignment.
Fayose, who had earlier condemned the action, said arresting and
harassing Judges in the name of corruption connotes grave danger to
the country as a nation, calling on judicial officers and lawyers of
note to defend the temple of justice by calling the federal government
He said he found it expedient to build another high court complex to
replace the current one that was bequeathed onto the state in 1968.
“I am particularly glad with what is happening today because the
judicial officers had not done enough to put the executive at checks.
I had earlier raised the alarm that something like this will happen,
so the current predicament of these judges will teach a lesson that
nobody is safe from harassment in Nigeria.
“However, no matter the offence they might have committed, the arrest
is regrettable and sad. This should not have happened to judges who
built their careers from the scratch. But let me tell you, this
government will still do more.
“We must all protect the judicial arm and that is why I am building
this new complex that will have modern accessories to ease
administration of justice and smooth legal matters in the state”,
Babalola, on his part, said raiding the houses of eminent jurist when they could have allowed the National Judicial Council (NJC) to take disciplinary actions against the judges, if truly they are corrupt, was a
constitutional infraction that must not be tolerated.
“I am particularly saddened by the attack. How can they be treated
like criminals? The fact that the DSS released the judges on the
second showed that they did not evade arrest, why should they then
harassed and humiliated them in the first instance?
“It is a trite law that process of the court can’t be served after
7pm. Even if the DSS had the arrest warrant, they should not have
gone on midnight raid of the houses of the judges.
“The NJC has the power to promote, appoint and discipline judges, this
was done to ensure independence of that arm. So, I expect them to have
approached the NJC. How can you arrest sitting Supreme Court judges
and took them to magistrate court for trial? That could only be done
after they have been removed”, he said.
The Chief Judge of the State, Justice Ayodeji Daramola and the
Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Mr. Owoseeni Ajayi,
said the new court complex would help in speedy administration of
justice in Ekiti when completed.
Ajayi said the present complex has become choky and often being
overcrowded when matters are being heard, thereby subjecting judges to
harsh condition during hearing.