Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has lampooned the Department of State Services (DSS) for the arrest of judges over alleged corruption.
He described the DSS’ action of raiding judges’ residences in the middle of the night and claiming recovery of questionable amounts of cash and documents as “deliberate misinformation and concocted stories to justify their unconstitutional assault on the nation’s judiciary”.
According to Wike, the DSS lacked the constitutional powers to be involved in the legal process to discipline a serving judicial official because “there is a legal process that must be followed”.
He spoke on Saturday night during a special dinner for the management and players of Rivers United at the Government House, Port Harcourt.
“The weak blackmail of the DSS will not lessen the crime they have committed against the Nigerian state by assaulting the judiciary”, Wike said, adding: “Their blackmail stories will not move me. They will concoct all kinds of stories to justify this undemocratic illegality perpetrated against the judiciary.
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“It is really unfortunate that DSS would concoct a false defence that $2million (that is N900million) was found in the house of the judge. It is unfortunate that the DSS is coming up with flimsy excuses”.
The governor, who stressed that he would never condone acts of corruption, however, vowed to never support any process that is targeted at ruining the nation’s judiciary.
He pointed out that the National Judicial Council (NJC) was saddled with responsibility of disciplining errant judges, after which indicted judicial officers are handed over to the law enforcement agencies for prosecution.
He stated that the same process applies to the police, army and other para-military agencies, which have their own internal mechanisms for disciplining errant and corrupt officials.
“In the police, erring and corrupt policemen are first given orderly room trial, sacked and then appropriately prosecuted. For judicial officers, the DSS has no role.
“This impunity must stop. I am not in support of any judicial officer being involved in corruption. What we are saying is that the right things must be done. We must not do things that will jeopardise our hard earned democracy.
“If they had abducted the judge, they may go ahead to kill the judge and they will say that Rivers State is insecure.
“The way things are going, nobody should relax. Freedom comes with sacrifice. Independence comes with sacrifice. Liberty comes with sacrifice.
“We must resist this injustice. Nobody can intimidate Rivers people”.
Gov. Wike also described as laughable, claims by the DSS that he used thugs to prevent its operatives from conducting a search of a judge’s residence in Port Harcourt, saying he was senior citizens of the state when he “stopped the DSS’ unconstitutional act”.
“I was there with our State and National Assembly members, former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Austin Opara, the PDP Chairman, Bro Felix Obuah and some caretaker chairmen. When they said I was with thugs, I just laughed”.