The Department of State Services (DSS) has explained that the judges of the Supreme, Appeal and High Courts it arrested in the past few days were found to possess huge sums of raw cash at home and own choice properties. The DSS, which claimed to have carried out special sting operations on the judges, made the explanation in a statement circulated to the media. According to the statement, signed by Abdullahi Garba, the operations leading to the arrest of the judges were informed by allegations of corruption and other acts of professional misconduct by a few of the suspected judges, who are alleged to be living ostentatiously.
The DSS maintained that the operations constitute a part of its mandate. "The Service action is in line with its core mandate, as we have been monitoring the expensive and luxurious lifestyle of some of the judges as well as complaints from the concerned public over judgment obtained fraudulently and on the basis amounts of money paid," the statement explained.
The judges involved, added the statement, were invited for interrogation, following which their residences were searched. The searches, the statement further said, uncovered huge amounts of raw cash in various denominations as well as in local and foreign currencies. The judges, DSS also alleged, own real estate worth several millions of naira. The ownership of the real estate, said the DSS, was confirmed by documents. The directorate disclosed that some of the judges have made useful statements, with a few declining even in the face of allegedly glaring evidence against them in terms of cash, documents and property recovered.
"In one of the states where the Service operations were conducted, credible intelligence revealed that the judge had $2million stashed in his house. When he was approached for due search to be conducted, he, in concert, with the state governor, mobilized thugs against the Service team. The team restrained itself in the face of unbridled provocative activities by those brought in by the Governor. Unfortunately, the judge and governor also engaged the tacit support of a sister security agency," said the DSS.
The DSS said its surveillance team noticed that upon frustrating the operation, the judge, with the support of the governor, moved the money to an unknown location which it is currently making effort to unravel.
The summary of cash recovered, revealed the DSS, included N93.6million, $530,087, £25,970 and €5,680. There were allegedly recovered from three judges.
Other foreign currencies, revealed the DSS, were also recovered in addition to other banking documents, including real estate documents. The DSS, revealed the statement, is already preparing to arraign the judges before a competent court.
The DSS also denied that it never invited Justice Walter Nkana Onnoghen for investigation, saying he is not under its searchlight.
It added that it has tremendous respect for the Judiciary and would not do anything to undermine it or its activities. The DSS said it is willing to join The Judiciary in its bid to rid it of crooked judges.