Penultimate weekend Nigerians (at home and abroad) woke up to learn of the good news emanating from different cities across the federation. They were about the invasion of the homes of some senior judges by the Department of State Security (DSS). According to the reports the DSS agents forced their ways into the houses of these high-ranking judicial officers searching them armed with search warrants and arresting some of them. The dusk operation was methodically executed against certain odds Nigerian. Combing the fortified residences huge sums of cash of different denominations were found and carted away!
Those arrested (and later released on self-recognition) included Muazu Pindiga, Justice I. A. Umezulike, Justice Adeniyi Ademola, Justice Kabiru Auta, Justice Mohammed Tsamiya, Sylvester Ngwuta and Inyang Okoro. The last two are Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria! Big men enriching themselves through the instrumentality of the law they were charged with interpreting!
The DSS succeeded in the unprecendented raids following meticulous investigations spanning months but they subsequently provoked national outcry. However they failed to apprehend the major target in the Port Harcourt episode named Justice Abdulahi Liman. Reports indicated that the intervention of both the Rivers State Governor and the state police Commissioner made it impossible for the diligent agents of the DSS to carry out their duty. Nyesom Wike woke up at wee hours of the night to thwart the apprehension and seizure of the quantum of dollar bills said to be inside the home of the fugitive Judge. The PC claimed he had come to maintain law and order when alerted but one wondered why such operation could have been mounted without the official information of the commissioner.
The truth is that Governor Wike and CP Francis Odesanya wilfully conspired to aid and abet the evasion of the bribe-taking Judge and the discreet removal of the huge illicit funds found to be in his possession. Who is Odesanya working for? For the Nigerian state or for his self interest? It is, indeed, professionally tactless for the DSS to claim that “a sister agency” helped in foiling their operation in Port Harcourt.
If Wike was not a rogue Governor heavily involved and implicated in many scandalous judicial entanglements how does one understand his actions that very tensed night? How could a state chief executive have been woken up in the middle of the night to race down to a security scene in order to obstruct the execution of an operation by a state security apparatus? Nyesom Wike is afraid of his shadows having compromised justice and the day of reckoning could come faster than he could ever imagine.
Through the active connivance of the Odilis (Peter and Mary) Wike exploited the network of judicial corruption to ‘win’ a gubernatorial litigation that went up to the Supreme Court for final binding adjudication. The Odilis were generous in giving out some useful links to Wike to preserve his seat as Governor! He dutifully co-opted the other guber-challenged Governors (Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom and Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia) to raise the millions of dollars with which the favourable verdicts were procured!
Some critics had risen in defense of the judiciary and in condemnation of the DSS operations. They had argued that democracy could be under threat with this kind of judicial invasion. We see same otherwise! The federal government had said in a statement shortly afterwards that corruption, and not the judiciary, was under attack. And the ineffective National Judicial Commission (NJC), incapable of punishing judges for their judicial heists, rose in defense of those arrested and later released by the DSS saying that it was tantamount to intimidation and harassment of the judiciary.
Well, our position is that corruption must be fought with whatever means are deemed appropriate or adequate by the authorities. No one is above the law, not even the learned men in the hallowed chambers of justice. Their Lordships are part of the society such as ours ruined by corruption. Those with impeachable character judging others and wielding the power to jail or even to kill in order to serve the cause of justice cannot be exempted from the ‘blindness’ of justice itself! The Nigerian bar and bench still accommodate rogue lawyers and judges, this we all know to be true. And they are daily devising new ways and strategies to beat the system.
The war against corruption is never won anywxhere in the world by taking cognisance of the propaganda or empty rhetorics of the opposition. Fearless and uncompromising measures are always put in place to break down the erected wall of corruption. The leader himself must be steadfast and sometimes draconian in his attitude to be able to force change upon the people. In President Buhari we have found such a leader!
Corruption in the second and third tiers of government has become a disturbing phenomenon that must be met with rigorous response. In the legislative arm the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, is an old ‘friend’ of corruption right from his days as Governor of Kwara State. He is still standing trial for fraudulent declaration of assets and forgery of senate standing rules with which he smuggled himself and Ike Ekweremadu in as Senate top leaders. In the lower legislative chamber Speaker Yakubu Dogara has ‘won’ the budget padding war with Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin who was suspended for exposing the budget padding corruption in the House.
The supreme corruption Nigeriana and the clampdown to nip it in the bud demonstrated surely how deep we have sunken as a nation. Now we know better that justice is for sale to the highest bidder! We can understand that electoral battles are no longer won on majority vote counting but on shelling out staggering sums to judicially buy power at the state and local government levels!
The supreme determination of the President to combat corruption and bring a change to our culture of scam must be encouraged and lauded. We hereby salute his ruthless resolve to drive forward the redemptive mission.