The Department of State Security (DSS) has revealed that the agency hadeasy access to the bank accounts of the detained judges and were able to establish that they had been taking bribes from many sources in the discharge of their duties but used the names and pictures of their wives, children and siblings to open such banks account, which were not known to most of those whose names appeared in the bank ledgers.
“When we brought in most of the children, wives and relatives of the suspects based on the papers we got from the banks, they did not even have an idea that their names had been used by the judges to open such accounts.”
“But you see under the Bank Verification Number, you must put in your passports, name, signature and others. So, for some of the judges, who used fake names and their wives names to open the accounts into which they paid in the proceeds of crime, they foolishly appended their signatures or used their pictures, something that gave them out.”
“From what we have found out, some of the suspects acted foolishly in committing the offence because they cannot prove that even if their children were to earn N1 million monthly since they were born till date, none of them can accumulate the amount of money we have traced to their accounts and the type of property they have.”
“Look, it may interest you to know that one of the two Supreme Court judges in our custody has a property worth N1.5 billion in one of the South-South states. If we may ask, where did he get the money to set up such project?”
“As far as we are concerned, there is nothing unusual in arresting corrupt judges and taking them to court because it would be an offence against the nation to continue to turn a blind eye to mounting corruption in the judiciary.”
The official also pointed out that another judge, who is being detained and questioned, disguised as a shopper in one of the supermarkets and ended up collecting bribes in dollars from a ‘client’, only to be caught on CCTV camera.
The official expressed regret that the National Judicial Council, NJC, which had the responsibility to track and punish corrupt judges, had tended to condone evil being perpetrated by the corrupt elements, citing the cases of three indicted judges as an example.
“The NJC, having been satisfied that the three judges demanded and collected heavy bribes, merely recommended the retirement of the one who took a bribe of N200 million and asked him to be paying back in bits to the complainant. So, we ask, what happens to the proceeds of crimes? No answer was given until we stepped in.”
“Similarly, the two other judges were retired with full benefits, smiled away. Since then, the NJC has not been cooperating with us and we cannot allow the rot to continue in the interest of Nigeria.”
Speaking on the appearance of Governor Nyesom Wike at the scene of the arrest of a suspected corrupt judge of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, the official noted with concern the action of the governor, wondering what he went to do at that time of the night, if he was not part of the judge’s deal.
It was the governor who blocked the DSS operatives from seizing the $2 million crime proceeds, which the judge had made from the PDP crisis stoked by a faction backed by the governor.
“But for the our highly professional operatives and service direction, we would have beaten up Wike that night so that he would have explanations to make on why he went to a crime scene at odd hours and aided a suspect to move $2 million crime proceeds to an unknown location,” he said.
“But we already have an idea of where the money was moved to and we are going to retrieve it and bring the judge to trial. As a matter of fact, we are going to treat the Port Harcourt FHC judge case as a ‘special case’, given his collusion with the governor to obstruct our work.”
“The behaviour of the judge has worsened his case. In the last three months, the judge has been going across the Nigerian borders with other countries collecting bribes for himself and others.”
The source also indicated that the judges might be allowed to go home as soon as they answered the questions put to them by the operatives, adding that they were being given royal treatment, in view of their status and the need to give them a conducive atmosphere to speak up.
Meanwhile, the DSS has concluded plans to arrest eight more judges in the coming days, in its bid to rid the judiciary of corruption.
According to a source at the DSS, who made this revelation yesterday, the Service currently has seven judges in its custody, who were arrested in a series of sting operations in the early hours of Saturday.
The source said 15 judges are currently under investigation by the DSS, which has incriminating documents on them.
The DSS source also disclosed that the seven judges arrested will be charged to court any moment, even as the Service plans to release them today when investigations and interrogations are concluded.
The seven judges arrested and currently in detention at the SSS office are Justice Inyang Okoro and Sylvester Ngwuta of the Supreme Court; Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court, Abuja; Kabir Auta of the Kano High Court; Muazu Pindiga of Gombe High Court, Mohammed Tsamiya of the Court of Appeal in Ilorin, and the Chief Judge of Enugu State, I. A. Umezulike.