FMB has selected some reactions from renowned lawyers, SANs and others on DSS arrest of Judges by the DSS.
Mike Ozekhome (SAN) here is what he has to say on the abduction of Judges by DSS:
I am not surprised. I am rather surprised that some Nigerians are still surprised. Some of us warned, wrote, preached and talked. But, we were ignored due to political partisanship. A leopard cannot change its spots. It started with political opponents and the opposition. Some of us cried out. Then, they moved against some very senior and well-respected lawyers. Some clapped. They said it was anti-corruption. We cried out. It extended quickly to the National Assembly, another arm of government. Many described the government as tough, no-nonsense and anti-corruption-inclined. Some of us warned. Now, it is the judiciary. Up to the very apex court of the land, the Supreme Court, has been targeted and is now being intimidated and humiliated.
Virtually all the judges are southerners. My prediction is that the media will be the next. The recent onslaught against the judiciary signals great danger to our democracy, freedom, human rights, independence of the judiciary and the doctrine of separation of powers as espoused in 1748 by the great French philosopher, Baron De Montesquieu.
We are supposed to be operating a constitutional democracy, not military dictatorship or tyrannical absolutism. Governor Wike was almost shot dead by fully armed DSS operatives. His “offence” was that he came to rescue a Federal High Court judge who was being abducted. Other serving judges, who would ordinarily respond to a mere phone call, are being humiliated and rounded up in the ungodly hours of the night, like common criminals.
Femi Fani- Kayode former Minister of Aviation has always been in the news, speaking his mind about hot issues and he wasn’t going to be left out in this discussion about the abduction of Judges. Here is what he has to say:
“The truth is that we are in trouble in this country. The motherland and all that we hold dear is under attack from a ravenous and dictatorial President and government,”
“When those that are constitutionally charged and empowered to protect us from tyranny and the abuse of power by a vicious, violent, murderous and lawless government and its murderous security agencies are themselves under siege all hope is lost. “If the judges cannot protect us and if they themselves have become victims of barbarous tyranny then it is time for the people to rise up, take to the streets, resist the evil and fight against our oppressors.
“Sons and daughters of Nigeria, we must not give in to fear and we must not be silenced. We must defend the rights of our people and fight for our homeland. “Now is the time to protest in any way that we possibly can and to take our country back from these animals and barbarians. Now is the the time to say “enough is enough!” “If we do not do so we shall be slaves forever. It is our God-given right and sacred duty to resist tyranny in every shape and form. If nothing else history, scripture and all the Holy Books of the three great faiths of Christianity, Islam and Judaism teach us that. “Now is the time to shed our fears and to stand up like the true patriots and free men and women that we were born to be and do so. Now is the time to say “thus far and no further” and to say “no more” and be our brothers keeper. Now is the time to stop sitting on the fence and acting as if all is well. May the Living God fill us with His Spirit and grant us courage. May He strengthen and embolden us.”
Prof. Taiwo Osipitan (SAN) has this to say :
Whether one is a judge or not, everybody deserves his peace and liberties. So, the DSS should not have gone to arrest anybody, whether a judge or not, without evidence that such a person had committed an offence. I am saying this not because they are judges, but because they are also citizens of Nigeria. They must have committed an offence or maybe there is a warrant of arrest for such a person to be arrested. But without such evidence, of committing offences worth being arrested for, be he a citizen, the DSS and others have no right to do that, not to talk of a judge.
If a court is handling a case and the government is not happy about it, the right thing to do is to appeal. As for the report on the blocking of the court premises, there is no reason to do so on a Saturday when the court is not sitting. Unless the DSS operatives have security reports that the judge is harbouring criminals or harbouring documents related to the security of the nation. But otherwise, it is not right for any organ of government to do that.
Dr. Kanyinsola Ajayi (SAN) on the abduction of Judges by DSS :
The Federal Government should know that this is not 1984. By 1984, I refer to that year and the dystopian novel written by George Orwell on dictatorship. Nigeria is a country ruled by law and even for the worst of crimes, we must follow the process of law. If we don’t, we will end up like Uganda under the autocrat, Idi Amin. We cannot bear such oppression. So, whatever the DSS is doing must be in line with the dictates of the law. Under no circumstance should they try to invade a judge’s residence at 9 or 10pm, wielding weapons and wearing masks. It is totally deplorable. It is abhorrent and what we must all know is that they are infringing on the rights of people. The courts exist for a reason. This system of law enforcement seems to be discriminatory, whimsical and contrary to the rule of law. It won’t get us anywhere as a country. It is the worst form of corruption you can think of. It is not right. In Pakistan, the chief judge of the country decided that since the military government was not obeying the law,there was no point in the courts carrying on and it became a flashpoint in that country.