By Soni Daniel, Ben Agande, Ikechukwu Nnochiri, Levinus Nwabughiogu & Rosemary Onuoha
Justices Ademola, Dimgba resume at Courts 7, 11 respectively
EFCC interrogates 2 High Court judges
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ABUJA—Eight days after operatives of the Department of State Services, DSS, raided their homes, Justices Nnamdi Dimgba and Adeniyi Ademola, yesterday, resumed sitting at the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court.
This came on a day the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, began interrogation of two Federal High Court judges, Mohammed Nasir Yunusa and Hyeladzira Ajiya, accused of corruptly enriching themselves in the course of their duty.
However, Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Professor Itse Sagay, said corruption in the judiciary was worse than crimes against humanity, noting that as custodians of hope of the last man, judicial officers could not afford to be corrupt.
Ademola and Dimgba
The DSS had in the process of a “sting operation” it conducted between October 8 and 9, ransacked the Abuja homes of both judges.
The said operation had resulted in the arrest and detention of seven superior court judges, among whom were two Justices of the Supreme Court — Inyang Okoro and Sylvester Ngwuta.
Though Justice Ademola was among judges arrested and subsequently granted administrative bail, Justice Dimgba was freed after his house situated at the Apo Legislative Quarters was thoroughly searched by security operatives, who allegedly carted away several documents, including drafts of yet-to-be-delivered judgements.
Since the incident occurred, the two judges have not sat to preside over cases pending before their respective courts until yesterday.
Whereas Justice Ademola sat at Court 7, his counterpart, Justice Dimgba presided over matters at Court 11.
Justice Ademola, who sat for close to two hours, attended to 12 cases, with two of them pending cases against the DSS.
Specifically, the two cases were fundamental rights enforcement applications by persons currently held in DSS custody.
While the first suit marked CS/518/2016 was filed by one Olusegun Komolafe, with the Director-General of the DSS and another as respondents, the second suit, marked: CS/498/2016, was also lodged against the DSS by one Engr Chidiebere Onwudiwe.
Hearings in both matters were stalled by failure of the DSS to send any legal representation before Justice Ademola.
Consequently, the judge deferred hearing in the suits after he ordered that fresh hearing notices should be served on the DSS.
Both Justices Dimgba and Ademola are currently awaiting the nod of the National Judicial Council, NJC, to drag the DSS to court over the “illegal invasion” of their homes, which they said amounted to gross violation of their constitutional rights.
Among cases Justice Dimgba heard, yesterday, was a suit by a governorship aspirant of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Ondo State, Mr. Olusegun Abraham.
The judge, in a bench ruling, ordered the service of all the relevant court processes, on APC National Chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun and the party’s purported governorship candidate, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu via substituted means.
The order followed an application by counsel to the plaintiff, Professor Yemi Akinseye-George (SAN), who complained that his client found it difficult to serve the respondents personally.
The suit is, among others, challenging the competence of the governorship primary election the APC held in Ondo State on September 3.
The plaintiff, who raised eight questions for determination, is praying the court to among others, declare that the primary was held in violation of provisions of the APC’s Electoral Guidelines for Governorship primary election 2014.
He said the primary also flouted the party’s constitution and was, therefore, invalid and incapable of validly producing Akeredolu as a candidate.
He also seeks an order setting aside the primary for alleged non-compliance with provisions of the party’s primary election guidelines and constitution.
Abraham, who emerged second in the primary, equally wants the court to set aside the purported submission of Akeredolu’s name to INEC by Odigie-Oyegun and the electoral body’s acceptance of the name as the APC’s candidate for the forthcoming governorship election.
He also sought an order compelling INEC to extend time within which the APC could conduct a fresh primary based “on the congress and congress appeal committee’s delegates’ list 2014 and in compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, the constitution of the APC, the party’s electoral guidelines 2014 and the 1999 Constitution, as amended.”
Two Federal High Court judges quizzed
The two Federal High Court judges, Mohammed Nasir Yunusa and Hyeladzira Ajiya Nganjiwa, were summoned to the Lagos Office of the EFCC, where they were being quizzed by top operatives.
According to information available to Vanguard, the two men arrived EFCC’s office around 10.05 am and were immediately ushered into their interrogation room.
“Their invitation is sequel to the bribery and money laundering allegations the commission discovered during investigations in an ongoing case in which two senior lawyers had been arraigned in court.
“The judges are currently being attended to by operatives of the commission,” a top source in the commission said.
It will be recalled that the EFCC had on March 9, 2016 arraigned two Senior Advocates of Nigerian, SANs, Rickey Tarfa, SAN and Joseph Nwobike, before a Lagos high court on allegations of offering gratification to a public official.
The two senior lawyers are currently facing criminal prosecution for allegedly giving bribes to judges to obtain favourable judgments.
“Subsequent investigation revealed that the two judges allegedly received sums of money from the two senior lawyers severally,” EFCC investigators said.
At press time, it was not certain, after 11 hours of intensive grilling, when the two judges would be released by the EFCC.
The grilling of the two judges comes amidst controversy generated by the arrest of seven others nationwide, penultimate week, by the Department of State Services, DSS, in connection with graft-related offences.
Although the judges have protested the raids on their homes by the DSS, the security agency plans to arraign them any moment from now to prove their culpability or otherwise.
Two of the judges have kicked against their treatment by the DSS and have indicated readiness to challenge the DSS in court, accusing the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, of …