The Department of State Services has given reasons why its operatives swooped on the home of some serving judges on Friday night.
It said the action was a follow up to what it described as an outcome of special sting operation which it said involved some judges of the Supreme, Appeal and High Courts.
A senior officer of the security agency, Mr. Abdullahi Garba, who spoke with journalists in Abuja on Saturday, insisted that the action would be sustained.
He said that the operations were based on allegations of corruptions and other acts of professional misconduct by a few of the suspected judges.
Garba said, “The action is in line with its core mandate, as we have been monitoring the expensive and luxurious lifestyle of some of the judges as well as complaints from the concerned public over judgment obtained fraudulently and on the basis amounts of money paid.
“The judges involved were invited, upon which due diligence was exhibited and their premises searched. The searches have uncovered huge raw cash of various denominations, local and foreign currencies, with real estate worth several millions of naira and documents affirming unholy acts by these judges.”
While saying that some of the judges had made useful statements on the allegations against them, he added that a few of them declined “even with the glaring evidence that were found against them in terms of material cash, documents and property recovered pointing to their compromise.”
He said in one of the states where the operations were conducted, intelligence report indicated that a judge was having the sum of $2m in his house.
He, however, regretted that a governor bungled the operation by obstructing the operatives of the service from carrying out their job.
Garba said, “In one of the states where the operations were conducted, credible intelligence revealed that the Judge had Two Million United States Dollars ($2,000,000 USD) stashed in his house.
“When he was approached for due search to be conducted, he in concert with the state governor, mobilised thugs against the Service team.
“The team restrained itself in the face of unbridled provocative activities by those brought in by the governor. Unfortunately, the judge and the governor also engaged the tacit support of a sister security agency.
“The Service surveillance team noticed that upon frustrating the operation, the judge with the active support of the governor craftily moved the money to an unknown location which the Service is currently making effort to unravel.”
Meanwhile, he said large amount including foreign/local currencies had been recovered.
He gave the summaries of these to include:
N93,558,000.00, $530,087, £25,970 and €5,680 (euro).
He said other foreign currencies were also recovered, but didn’t give details.
Garba said the currencies were recovered from just three of the judges.
He refused to give their names and the total number of judges involved.
The cash, he added, were different from other banking documents, including real estate documents which he said were also recovered.
He said preparations were ongoing to arraign the suspects in a competent court of jurisdiction in line with the laws of the nation.
He said the Service had never invited Justice Walter Nkanu Onnoghen for investigation as being speculated in some quarters.
Apart from this, he said the judge was also neither being investigated by the Service.
Despite this action, he said the Service has tremendous respect for the judiciary and would not do anything to undermine it or its activities.
“The Service will also join hands with this noble institution in its fight to rid it of few corrupt Judges whose actions is undermining not only the Judiciary but the common bond of our national life,” he added.
Current operation to be sustained
Garba announced that the current operation will be sustained and followed “till sanity and sanctity were restored to the esteemed third arm of government and public confidence is regained.”
He called on members of the public to avail the Service of any information which could assist in its drive to rid the nation of corrupt practices and tendencies.
Garba refused to take questions after the briefing.