10 October 2016
Erstwhile ruling Peoples Democratic Party PDP has condemned last weekend’s arrest of some judges of the Supreme and High Courts, and declared that Nigerians would not sit by and allow President Muhammadu Buhari to destroy the foundations of the nation’s democracy.
Rising to the defence of the president, however, his ruling All Progressives Congress, said repeated allegations that ongoing corruption investigations and trials are politically-motivated by the President and the APC are baseless.
Last weekend, the Department of State Services raided the homes of some judges whom they said they suspected of corrupt practices, recovered millions of Naira and hundreds of thousands of other major currencies and arrested the suspects.
The arrested Justices of the Supreme Court were, Sylvanus Ngwuta and Inyang Okoro and the Judges of the Federal High Court were Muazu Pindiga and Adeniyi Ademola.
In its reaction, the PDP said that: “Nigerians can no longer afford to stand and watch Buhari Administration destroy the foundations of our democracy that we have built for several years. Nigerians have a duty to speak out against this sort of tyranny.
“At this time, Justices Ngwuta and Okoro of the Supreme Court and Justices Adeniyi and Pindiga had been abducted and detained. Justice Dimgba only escaped abduction because he was not at home at the time.
“Justice Abdullahi’s abduction was prevented by the timely intervention of Governor Nyesom Wike, who insisted on the observance of the rule of law and the application of due process.
“Governor Nyesome Wike was assaulted by the men of the DSS during his intervention causing him to sustain injuries on his arm. At a point, an officer pointed a fully cocked gun at him and threatened to shoot him.
“The invasion was carried out between 0100hrs and 0500hrs..in the early morning using hundreds of fully armed men of the DSS.
“During the invasion, the justices were manhandled and members of their families as well as their household staff beaten up.
“This invasion is the latest in a series of actions taken by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration which reveal its disregard for the rule of law and its abject disdain for the Principle of Separation of Powers.
“This inexorable slide into fascism began with the invasion of the Akwa Ibom State Government House by the self-same DSS, the continued detention of several people despite Courts ordering their release, the invasion of the Ekiti State House of Assembly and detention of Hon. Akanni Afolabi and the invasion of the Zamfara State House of Assembly.
“This slide into fascism has included a sustained attack on the leadership of the National Assembly as President Buhari has sought to break its independence and make it a rubber stamp to suit his will.
“It is worthy to note that NEVER in the history of our country has any president attacked the Judiciary in such a manner.
“Even the late dictator – General Sani Abacha, whose regime is remembered by many as the second worst regime in Nigerian history, did not carry out such Gestapo style attacks on the members of the Judiciary.
“By bringing this attack to the Judiciary, President Buhari has shown that he has no desire to respect the pillars of our democracy. He has shown his desire to kill off our democracy and convert it to an autocracy without checks and balances.
“The government has no regard for the rule of law. They do not care about court orders. This government has disregarded the orders of the ECOWAS Court and every other court in the land and continue to detain Dasuki illegally.
“They continue to detain hundreds of Nigerians without bringing them to trial and against valid court orders.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Constitution in Section 153(1)(i) and Part 1 of the Third Schedule thereto establishes the National Judicial Council (NJC) and empowers same to regulate and discipline judges across the country.
“The proper path to follow to discipline erring judges will be to forward a petition containing any wrong doing to the NJC along with any evidence…in support thereof.
“The path not to follow is this Gestapo style invasion in the middle of the night that involves the use of sledge hammers to break down gates and front doors for DSS to gain access to the homes.
“Nigerians can no longer afford to stand aside and watch the Buhari Administration destroy the foundations of our democracy that we have built for several years.
“Nigerians have a duty to speak out against this sort of tyranny. God bless Nigeria.’’
The PDP statement was signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Prince Dayo Adeyeye.
Countering PDP’s position, the ruling APC said it was concerned about the desperation of the PDP and some of its governors to drag President Muhammadu Buhari into circumstances surrounding the reported raids of the homes of some judges by the Department of State Service.
It stated: “The President Muhammadu Buhari APC-led administration strictly respects the principle of the Rule of Law and also adheres to the constitutional provisions of Separation of Powers between the three arms of government.
“While the Party calls on all security agencies to respect and be guided by the rule of law in carrying out its constitutional duties, the APC finds the actions of some PDP governors and the reckless unsubstantiated allegations levelled by the PDP on President Muhammadu Buhari as the architect of the SSS raids curious and suspicious.
“The APC suspects that the PDP and the Ekiti and Rivers State governors, Ayodele Fayose and Nyesom Wike, have something to hide. This is a red flag that security agencies must not ignore.
“Meanwhile, the APC will not join issues on matters before the courts because it will be sub-judice. We advise the PDP to follow the same line and allow judicial processes run its normal and legitimate course.
“The repeated allegations that ongoing corruption investigations and trials are politically-motivated by the president and the APC are baseless.
“The APC urges Nigerians not to be distracted by the PDP and their agents plot to discredit the hugely-successful war against corruption.
“For the umpteenth time, the PDP does not have the luxury of dictating how the current administration carries out its legitimate duty of catching looters, as long as it conforms to the rule of law.
“Meanwhile, the APC calls on security agencies to check the continued and increased spate of politically-motivated killings and violence being perpetuated under the watch of the Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike and the PDP in the state.’’
The APC statement was signed by its National Secretary, Mai Mala Buni.