Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, has written President Muhammadu Buhari, demanding the immediate and unconditional release of Nigerian judges arrested in the midnight of Saturday by operatives of the Department of State Services. They have also written to the United Nations on the case.
Read what SERAP said:
“We are seriously concerned about the wave of arrests, intimidation and harassment of judges across the country by the DSS. While we fully support the government’s efforts to eradicate judicial corruption, we cannot accept anti-corruption strategies and methods which patently offend the rule of law and undermine the authority, integrity, sanctity and independence of the judiciary.
“SERAP believes that strategies and methods to sanction suspected corrupt judges must never have an inhibiting or chilling effect on the authority, sanctity, integrity and independence of the judiciary.
“The uncertainty of the processes and grounds on which suspected corrupt judges can be sanctioned would affect the capacity of all judges to act independently, and the public confidence in the judiciary.
“Judges, like other constitutional functionaries, must face the law if they depart from or deceive the law, such as when they are suspected of engaging in corruption. But what the DSS has done is a blow to the independence of judiciary, and a dangerous precedent that should not be allowed to stand.
“The value of the principle of judicial independence is that it protects judges from arbitrary sanctions by the government. The way this country dispenses justice and treats its judges will show the moral and legal character to which it can pretend.”
“Judicial accountability must respect the fundamental principles of the independence of the judiciary and the separation of powers, and its proceedings must be in line with constitutional and international standards of due process and fair trial. Indeed, international standards require that the bodies responsible for sanctioning corrupt judges should be independent from the government, and that any legal sanction against suspected corrupt judges must be determined in accordance with well-established procedures that guarantee the rights of judges to a fair and transparent trial, and to an independent review.”