Alleged Corruption: 50 NGOs protest in Abuja – Say arrested judges must step down
Forum of Non-Governmental Organizations in Nigeria (FONGON) protested in Abuja, on Wednesday and asked seven judges arrested by the Department of State Security Services (DSS) over alleged corruption and falsification of assets to step aside pending the outcome of their trial in court.
“Their duty is to interpret the law not to interpret hard currencies”
An attempt by the group to enter the Supreme Court premises was blocked by security operatives at the gate of the Presidential Villa, from where the protesters would have gained access to the apex court.
Undeterred, FONGON Chairman, Wole Badmus, addressed newsmen before making a detour to the National Assembly, where he threatened to mobilize all 50 groups to besiege courts of the affected judicial officers, if they failed to step down.
The judges affected by the DSS ‘sting operations’ between October 7 and 8 are Justice Sylvester Ngwuta and Inyang Okoro – the suspended Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, Ilorin Division; Justice Mohammed Ladan Tsamiya, who was picked up in Sokoto; Justice Adeniyi Ademola (Federal High Court); the Chief Judge of Enugu State, Justice I. A. Umezulike; Justice Kabiru Auta of Kano State High Court; and Justice Muazu Pindiga (Gombe State High Court).
The protesters carried placards with various inscriptions such as: “Stop corruption before it stops you,” “Don’t get it twisted, Judiciary is not on trial, only corrupt officials are,’ Justices are to interpret the law, they are not empowered to interpret hard currencies’ ‘when a judge stuffs illicit cash in his shoes, water don pass water’, ‘In the struggle to salvage the judiciary every onlooker is either a coward or a traitor among others.
Among other demands, FONGON also urged the Federal Government to call Governors Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and his Ekiti State counterpart, Ayo Fayose to order for allegedly using their immunity to obstruct the course of justice.
Throwing its weight behind the efforts by the President Muhammadu Buhari to rid the judiciary of bad eggs, the group noted that unless something was urgently done, “the few bad eggs are capable of spoiling the good ones.”
“That is why we have decided to add our voice to the raging controversy over the arrest of some judges and justices over alleged corruption.”
The group, however, expressed worry over the seeming silence of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), the Trade union Congress (TUC) and other mass-based Labour unions over the matter.
“This is definitely one of the few moments when silence is not golden.
“We are of the view that people-oriented organizations should be frontrunners in this noble cause. Judicial fraud is the height of heist against humanity. We, hereby, call on them to join the struggle if they cannot lead…”