The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) on Saturday declared a state of emergency in the judiciary following crackdown on judges by the Department of State Services (DSS).
Addressing the press were the current NBA President, Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN), and four past presidents of the association – Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), Dr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN); Mr. J.B. Daudu (SAN) and Augustine Alegeh (SAN).
Others in attendance at the declaration, which held at Eko Hotel, Victoria Island, were Prof. Kayinsola Ajayi (SAN), Mr. Yusuf Ali (SAN), Mr. Dele Adesina (SAN), among others.
Mahmoud said two Supreme Court justices, Inyang Okoro and Sylvester Ngwuta were “abducted”, with their families, adding that he had yet to have the full detail of other judges who could have been involved.
The NBA condemned the gestapo-style operation of the DSS and announced the constitution of an emergency or crisis management team, comprising past NBA presidents to engage with the government.
“I want to emphasise again that we are not under military rule and we cannot accept this unholy event and Gestapo-style operation,” Mahmoud said. “We, therefore, call on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately caution all the state security agencies and to respect the rule of law and to respect due process.”
The NBA said the DSS action is unconstitutional as it isn’t its responsibility to arrest judges.
“Any issues affecting the judicial officers, there are established procedures for handling them and we demand that this constitutional process must be obeyed.
“Given the unfolding nature of the event and the seriousness of the situation, the NBA hereby declares a state of emergency as it affects the affairs of the judiciary and I hereby constitute a crisis management team, comprising all past presidents of the association.
“I want to, on behalf of the association, make the very following clear and unequivocal demands: we demand the immediate and unconditional release of all the judges abducted from about 9pm yesterday (Friday).
“The release must be done immediately and without any conditions. Two, we demand that the Department of State Services should limit itself to its statutory and constitutional responsibilities.
“I’ll be meeting with the CJN later tonight or tomorrow. There will be consequences should these demands are not met.”