The Department of State Services,(DSS) have released on bail the seven judges arrested over the week in what the agency called a sting operation to rid the Judiciary of corrupt elements. The judges were released on bail on Sunday based on self recognition and will be visiting the agency from home pending their appearance in court.
A source in the agency said, “They were all released on bail yesterday (Sunday) on own recognisance. They reported this morning (Monday) and they have all gone back home. They will be coming back tomorrow (Tuesday); and everything went very procedurally well and civil.
“They were released on bail on own recognisance based on the fact that given their standing in the society, they cannot run away. They were instructed that they should come back today (Monday) by 10am. They did report for investigation this morning (Monday morning) and they have gone back home.
“The investigation continues and preparation to charge them to court.
“Also, the action was sequel to the lack of cooperation by the National Judicial Council such as the refusal by the NJC to allow the affected persons to be questioned by the DSS. Investigation started some seven months ago, precisely in April 2016.”
The DSS on Monday, intensified its ongoing investigation of the remaining eight other judges across the country including two Justices of the Supreme Court
The agency said it was getting the cooperation of the Federal Ministry of Justice in its ongoing probe of the judges with active assistance from the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, according to sources familiar with the case.
A copy one of the petitions obtained by newsmen against one of the suspect Judges, Justice Inyang Okoro, linking the Supreme Court justice to some suspicious properties in his home state of Akwa Ibom was sent to the office of the AGF. The petition was subsequently forwarded by the AGF to the DSS in August with a covering letter to the agency stating, “Investigation privately carried out by Akwa Ibom activist and legal practitioner, and which he generously availed me, shows that Honourable Justice Okoro has suddenly acquired stupendous wealth, which he has used to develop massive estates in Calabar, Cross River State, and Uyo in Akwa Ibom State, which is inconsistent with his status as a Justice of the Supreme Court.
“These estates, which Honourable Justice Okoro recently acquired are as follows:
“A maisonette at Plot 6, Unit S-G, Ewet Housing Estate, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
“Block of flats at Fanama Street, Off Ategong Drive, Calabar, Cross River State, built by Marilyn and Costa, and
“A maisonette at Shelter Afrique, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, to mention but a few.
Meanwhile, the National Judicial Council will today meet in Abuja to take a position on what the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, on Monday, described as sad and regrettable development.
Justice Mohammed, spoke at the valedictory court session in honour of a retiring Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Suleiman Galadima,
The chief Justice, urged Nigerians to be calm, saying the NJC would meet on Tuesday to review the situation and take a position on it.
He said, “My lords, invited guests, ladies and gentlemen, not to detract from this occasion, it is indeed very saddening and deeply regrettable, the distressing and unfortunate incident which occurred on Friday, October 7 and Saturday, October 8, 2016.
“However, I must ask all Nigerians to remain calm and prayerful as an emergency meeting of the National Judicial Council, which will take place tomorrow (Tuesday), will comprehensively look into the matter.
“Furthermore, I must express my sincere appreciation to the executive of the Nigerian Bar Association, ably led by the President, Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN), and indeed all members of the legal profession for their prompt action and continued support.”