By Ifeanyi Nwoko
The Senate on Tuesday condemned the action of the Department of State Security (DSS) for the “invasion of the homes, arrest and detention” of some judges at the weekend.
President Muhammadu Buhari was urged to call all security agencies to order and direct the full observance of the Rule of Law in the discharge of their duties.
The senate reached its resolution following a motion by Sen. Joshua Lidani, (Gombe South) calling for the condemnation of the action of the DSS.
Recall that in the early hours of Saturday, operatives of the DSS arrested senior judicial officers including John Okoro and Sylvester Nguta of the Supreme Court and a former Chief Judge of Enugu State, Innocent Umezulike.
Others are Namdi Dimgba and Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court, Abuja; Kabiru Auta, from Kano; Muazu Pindiga of Federal High Court in Gombe.
The judges were however released late Sunday.
The Senate therefore frowned on the action of the operatives of the DSS stressing that it went against the rule of law.
It therefore mandated its Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to review all existing laws that deal with the Security agencies and bring them in line with the tenets of democracy.
The committee was charged to report to the Senate in four weeks.
The senate also backed the Federal Government’s efforts to fight corruption and to sanitise all sectors including the Judiciary.
The senate said that the action of the DSS was wrong as it did not confer with the NJC which is statutorily responsible for disciplining judges and other judicial workers.
In his remark, the President of the Senate said that the Senate was totally in support of the fight against corruption especially in the Judicial system.
“We must eradicate corruption in all spheres of our society and this is a matter that we must continue.
“I think the National Assembly has been playing its role to continue to support government in its fight against corruption.
“We must ensure that this fight against corruption is within the rule of law, any act of anti corruption action that goes against the rule of law does not help the corruption fight.
“That is why this action as has been seen in this manner is conemned by the Senate and all agencies of government must ensure that they act within the rule of law,” he said.
While presenting his motion, Sen. Joshua Lidani also prayed the Senate to summon the Director of the DSS, Lawal Daura to brief the Senate ina closed door.
His prayer that the director be summoned was however not granted even though many senators who contributed supported the prayer for his invitation.
The senate had difficulty in reaching a decision on summoning Daura and it had to take the voice vote three times before the President of the Senate ruled in favour of the “nays”
Some of the senators who spoke also condemned the action of the DSS.
Sen. Chukwuka Utazi (PDP Enugu North) said that the action of the security operatives was wrong and would go a long way to gibve the nation a bad name in the international community.
He said that it was condemnable to invade the house of any Nigerian let alone serving judges.
“This should not have happened even under an unguarded dictatorship let alone a democracy: Enough is now more than enough,” he said.
Deputy Majority Leader Ibn Na’Allah said that Nigerians supported the change agenda because of the promise to fight corruption.
He said that the Assembly was committed to support the FG to fight corruption but stressed that it must be done within the ambit of the rule of law.
He said that the NJC should have been left to do its job adding that the senate should be careful in condemning the DSS.
For Sen. Godswill Akpabio, warned that the nation should not destroy the principles of separation of power.
“We know there is separation of power: we must bear in mind the need for the survival of democracy and our perception in the international community.
“We must be careful the kind of image we give to the Judiciary: it is difficult for a former governor to be respected outside this country because everybody believe that all former governors are thieves.
“If we carry that toga, everybody will lose confidence in the judiciary.
“Even if there is corruption, it should be handled carefully so that it does not jeopardise internal security,” he said.