A judge of the federal high court, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, has sought the permission of the National Judicial Commission (NJC) to sue the Department of State Services (DSS) for purportedly harassing and intimidating him when it raided his Abuja residence in early October.
Dimgba who was one of seven serving and former judges to be arrested nationwide in a coordinated “sting operation” accuses the DSS of arresting him due to rulings he delivered against the agency.
“When I asked, they first presented me with a search warrant for a No. 19 Ogbemudia Crescent, Apo Legislative Quarters, Zone E and which had a John Inyang Okoro as defendant. When I explained to them that my house address was not No. 19 Ogbemudia Crescent, Apo Legislative Quarters, Zone E, and that my name was certainly not John Inyang Okoro, on the search warrant, the DSS team leader explained that there was a mix-up, and then presented me with another search warrant for 30 Ogbemudia Crescent, Apo Legislative Quarters, Zone E, but which had A.F.A Ademola as the defendant.
“When I also explained that I was not A.F.A Ademola but that my name was Justice Dimgba, the DSS team leader stated that whatever was the case, they (the DSS) were under instructions from above to search Justice Nnamdi Dimgba’s house,” he said, explaining that the raid was carried out by about 20 operatives.
Dimgba accused the DSS operatives of beating up his nephew and driver to a pulp with guns, and forced their way into and ransacked the entire house in the course of execution of a non-existent search warrant.
He said his ordeal started on September 16, 2016, when the DSS invited and detained his registrar at their office in Abuja, and re-invited her on September 26, 2016. He claimed that she was detained and had her phones seized so she could “provide them with testimonies that could implicate me in the performance of my official duties.”
He said the DSS operatives eventually went away with his work bag “containing a number of case files which I had planned to work on for the weekend in relation to judgments adjourned, the power cable of my laptop and also my copy of the reply dated September 4, 2016, which I had sent to the NJC to the DSS’ petition against me.”
He asked the NJC led by chief justice Mahmud Mohammed to stop the acts of harassment and intimidation against him, ensure the immediate return of the seized case files and his answer to their petition to me.
“Not returning the case files makes it almost impossible for me to proceed with the completion of the judgments,” he said.
He said he also intends to “commence legal proceedings in court against the DSS for the above brazen violations of my rights, unless my Lord otherwise advises.”
In another letter sent as response to the NJC’s query concerning a petition earlier filed against him by the DSS, Dimgba had said the agency was attempting to cow him.
Our correspondent obtained extracts of the judge’s response to the petition by the DSS on Saturday. According to Dimgba,the petition was “meant to humiliate and embarrass him for having the courage to deliver judgments against the DSS on fundamental rights suits.”
In the letter dated September 4, 2016 sent to the NJC before last weekend’s raid, the judge said, “I state that as far as they relate to me, the said allegations are monumental fabrications which I deny in totality and in absolute terms.
“I believe that this petition and the allegations contained therein are aimed at cowing me from the principled stand that I took against the disobedience of my court order.”
Dimgba cited as an example of his orders flouted by the DSS the bail he granted a former member of arms probe panel, set up by the Federal Government, Air Commodore Umar Mohammed (retd).
Mohammed was again granted bail by another judge of the Federal High Court in Abuja, Justice John Tsoho, the same terms and condition as earlier imposed by Justice Dimgba.
The DSS operatives, who had produced him before Justice Tsoho for a rearraignment, would not allow the former military chief to perfect his bail conditions as the operatives whisked him away from the court premises.