Posted by News Express | 10 October 2016 | 2,170 times
Despite the uproar of condemnation that has greeted the move, including by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), the Presidency on Sunday rose stoutly in defence of the crackdown on several high profile judges as manifested in the arrest of some judges, including some Supreme Court Judges, between Friday night and Saturday morning.
Late yesterday, Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant (Media and Publicity) to President Muhammadu Buhari issued a statement entitled ‘Corruption, not judiciary under attack’.
The statement reads: “The Presidency assures that the President reserves his highest respect for the institution of the judiciary as the third arm of government.
“To this end, the President will not do anything to undermine its independence.
“President Buhari remains a committed democrat, in words and in his action, and will not take any action in violation of the constitution.
“The recent surgical operation against some judicial officers is specifically targeted at corruption and not at the judiciary as an institution.
“In a robust democracy such as ours, there is bound to be a plurality of opinions on any given issue, but there is a convergence of views that the country has a corruption problem that needs to be corrected.
“But reports by a section of the media are giving us cause for concern.
“In undertaking the task of reporting, the media should be careful about the fault lines they open. It is wrong to present this incident as a confrontation between the executive and judicial arms of government.
“The Presidency has received assurances from the DSS that all due processes of the law, including the possession of search and arrest warrants were obtained before the searches.
“To suggest that the government is acting outside the law in a dictatorial manner is to breach the interest of the state.”
Also yesterday, Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Prosecution, Barrister Okoi Obono Obla, argued that the wave of arrests is not unconstitutional, just as he insisted that the DSS acted under the law.
Obla, who fielded questions from newsmen at his family residence in Ugep, Cross River State, described the arrest of senior Judges across the country as an unprecedented record of achievements in the ongoing anti-corruption fight.
According to him, the Nigerian big man wants us to have two standards of justice: One for him and another for the poor “and we say no to that.
“The big man should not do anything and get away with it in this country. The poor people are being arrested every day and nobody talks about them.”
“Everybody should be subjected to the law. If the President does not have immunity, he can be arrested. The Senate President was arraigned and put on trial. So what is wrong with arresting Supreme Court Justices?”
Obla noted that “they will be arraigned before the court and the Department of States Security DSS carried out their operations constitutionally with a bench warrant and are free to do their work at any time of the day.”
Continuing, Obla stressed that “the Nigerian Big man” must change his mentality and subject himself to the law.
“It is unprecedented in Africa for senior Judges to be arrested for corruption and you say we are not fighting corruption?
“Judges are partly responsible, the corrupt lawyers are partly responsible; because they ‘block’, they fight, and they stall; if a big man is involved, they weep up sentiments; oh! the President is a Muslim fighting Christians, oh the President is Fulani, he is fighting Ibibio, oh
President is fighting Igbos, fighting Efiks, fighting Anangs. They whip up sentiments and think that they are above the law.
“That is the problem, when you go after them, they weep up sentiments that the President is this and that but the poor people go to prison every day and nobody talks about them. They will even manipulate the media. Like Dasuki wants you to believe that the federal government is against the order asking for his release, it’s a blatant lie. So that is it, the Nigerian big man does not want the rule of law to reign in this country. But, we insist that the rule of law must reign.”
•Partly based on a report by Independent. Photo shows Presidential Aide on Prosecution, Barrister Okoi Obono Obla.
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