Afenifere, a Yoruba socio-political group, has joined a growing number of Nigerian groups in condemning the weekend crackdown on Supreme Court justices and federal judges by the country’s secret police, the Department of State Security Services.
In an interview with Punch on Sunday, October 9, 2016, Yinka Odumakin, national publicity secretary of Afenifere said that the Muhammadu Buhari sanctioned action by the DSS was executive lawlessness and reminiscent of the human rights abuses of the country’s military era.
“It is executive lawlessness and usurpation of investigative functions of the judicial arm of government. It was not done with the authority of the National Judicial Council as stipulated in our constitution,” Odumakin said.
“We are certainly descending into a deeper dictatorship trajectory than we have ever witnessed in our polity even during military interregnum.
“If judges can come under this raw show of naked power, what would be the fate of the everyday citizens? This is a new low never witnessed in our country and all lovers of justice, democracy and decency must condemn this barbaric act.”
Malachy Ugwummadu, a human right lawyer and the president of Committee for the Defence of Human Rights also added that it was a “misadventure too many and will be decisively resisted by all well-meaning Nigerians.”
Ugwummadu stated, “If left unchecked, they will invade the hallowed precincts of our courts and desecrate them even during sittings. President Buhari must therefore rise to the occasion and call for a full briefing into the circumstances of this breach of public peace, and obstruction of public officers in the discharge of their duties.”
Another lawyer and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Adegboyega Awomolo described the invasion as the height of corruption.
“Let the good people of the world note that this is a move to demystify, denigrate and ridicule the judiciary after humiliating the legislature,” Awomolo said.
“What the executive is doing is not fighting corruption but promoting recklessness and impunity. Supreme Court justices are not absconding criminals to be harassed, attacked and whisked away in the night. This is barbaric and unacceptable.”
On the contrary, Jackson Omenazu a human right activist said there was nothing wrong with the time the security agents came to arrest the judges, adding that since a judge has no immunity, no law stops the DSS from effecting his/her arrest.
He continued that “While I condemn the attitude of the judiciary because justice in Nigeria today appears to be for sale or for the highest bidder, due process must be adopted before arresting anybody.
“It is out of point for anybody to condemn the time of arrest because the law did not set a particular time for a suspect to be arrested. One of the worst things that can happen to a society is when judges pervert justice. It is worse than armed robbery.”
Omenazu however, said Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, overstepped his bounds by going to the scene of the incident, adding that he (Wike) could have intervened from a distance.
“I also frown at the DSS officer pushing a governor because an assault to the Rivers State governor is an assault to Rivers people. But the governor must always put up a reasonable conduct,” he concluded.