Malami: Judges Were Arrested for Economic Crimes, Terrorism and Narcotics
Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami (SAN) has said that the Department of State Security (DSS) did not violate any law by invading residence and effecting arrest of some judges and justices.
Malami also disclosed that the decision to arrest and invade residences of the judicial officers was premised on allegations of economic crimes, terrorism and narcotic crimes.
The minister who appeared before the House of Representatives ad-hoc Committee investigating cases of invasion of property and arrest of persons, explained that there were reasonable ground for suspicion of the affected judges, adding that the State was vested with a constitutional obligation to abolish all corrupt practices using all its powers.
He further explained that such operation could be conducted at any hour any moment and without restrictions.
“I have no objection that the operation would be carried out at night because I have taken time to go through the administration of Criminal Justice Act and I was convinced that this operation can be conducted at any hour, any moment without restriction,” he said.
Malami who expressed satisfaction with the way and manner the raid and arrest was conducted, said he was duly informed before and after the operation.
The minister noted that there was no special protection for judges against criminal prosecution.
According to him, as long as the National Assembly has not abrogated Decrees promulgated by the military since 1966, the laws remain valid and subsisting.
While he noted that the State, it’s institutions and public officers must use State instruments as a matter of obligation, bound to indeed ensure that all corrupt practices are abolished, Malami also disagreed with suggestions that the law be amended to give issuing judges powers to determine what time warrant of arrest can be effected.
The Minister also disclosed that the investigation of the judges which resulted from multiple petitions to his office and other security agencies led to the raid and arrest after the National Judicial Council (NJC) was duly informed but refused to act.
He also disclosed that some of the judges had no Asset Declaration record with the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).
Malami while responding to questions by the Chairman of the Committee, Garba Datti said; “When we are talking about constitutional obligations, it goes without saying that all state instruments, Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA)are under obligation, inclusive of the legislature and the judiciary to take steps that will abolish corrupt all practices.
” It is in respect of that obligation that whatever issue arise from the search and arrest of the judicial officers were carried out.”
“The State was in receipt of multiple petition of corrupt practices by the judicial officers and there was further apprehension that if immediate steps were not taken, the possibility of dissipating existing evidence that were believed to have being kept within their respective domain will eventually be tampered with.”
“Arising from the responsibility created and established by Section 15 of the constitution, the State had to act.
But the question of which agency has the responsibility of executing it, my response to that derives from the fact that multiple petitions were written to Office of the AGF, DSS, EFCC and a lot of other agencies of government and to my mind, I have a discretion to look weight the situation and decide which agency against the background of the petition who will act for the purpose of ensuring that the obligation of the provisions of Section 15 (5) of the constitution are carried out.
“So whatever evolved from the search and arrest of the judicial officers revolved around the need to comply with the responsibility and obligation vested on them by provisions of the constitution and the need to ensure that the investigation is not in any way tampered with negatively.
“This were the circumstances that led to the operation. It was a clear exercise of the constitutional mandate in respect of what is expected of the State to abolish corrupt practices”.
Malami insisted that the raid and arrest was necessitated by the refusal of the NJC to act on petitions earlier sent to it by the AGF and other investigating agencies.
“When we got the petitions, I had cause personally to write to NJC requesting that they take administrative steps to investigate the allegations contained in the petitions.
“A response was made to office that NJC can only act unless the petitions were accompanied with affidavits but I felt there were no reason why the petitions can not be looked on their own merit by placing sanctions on the AGF while it was a constitutional obligation.
“Incidentally, multiple petitions were also written to DSS and I requested that they equally write to write to NJC to look into the petitions but it was the same response DSS git from NJC that without a supporting affidavit the petitions can’t be looked into.
“So we have a situation where there’s reasonable ground for suspicion for commission of corruption and we have a body saddle with the primary administrative responsibility of looking at such things first but seems not to be cooperating in that respect.
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