Daily invitation by DSS Prevents Embattled Judges from Sitting

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The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmud Mohammed, has stopped including the names of the two arrested justices of the Supreme Court Justice John Inyang Okoro and Sylvester Nwali Ngwuta .

It was gathered that the Justices are no longer able to sit on panels to adjudicate on cases before the court because they are often not available, as they are still required to report to the Department of State Services (DSS) everyday

A source at the CJN’s office noted  that as part of the bail conditions of the justices, they are meant to keep reporting to the DSS office on a daily basis.

“The court cannot be waiting for them since no one knows when they will return. When they return, the justices too are not keen on sitting,” the source said.

The source explained that this was why the CJN had not included them on new panels.

He said it is the responsibility of the CJN to empanel justices to adjudicate on cases, but the affected judges had not been sitting because of the daily visits to the DSS.

Justices Ngwuta and Okoro were among the eight judges whose houses were raided and arrested last month for alleged corruption.

But in separate letters to the CJN, the two justices denied any wrongdoing, blaming their woes on attempts by chieftains of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), especially the Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi, to influence the appeals challenging the outcomes of the Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Ebonyi and Ekiti State governorship elections.

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Since their arrest by the DSS, there have been repeated calls by a section of the public for the justices to step aside while investigations against them continue.

The President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Abubakar Balarabe Mahmoud (SAN), who initially condemned the action of the DSS, was later to ask all the affected judges to recuse themselves from further judicial functions or proceed on compulsory leave, until their innocence was fully and completely established.

But the National Judicial Council (NJC), which the CJN also chairs, rejected the call, saying that the DSS was yet to inform the council of its findings against the justices.

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