■ …Trails $2m stashed in another judge’s house
From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Department of State Services (DSS) has revealed that its efforts to sanitise the judiciary system paid off with the recovery of huge sums of foreign and local currencies, totalling N362,911,403, in the homes of three Judges, adding that it is also on the trail of $2 million stashed in the house of another Judge in an unnamed state.
Reacting to the raid of the homes of Supreme, Appeal and High Court judges in Abuja, the stand-in spokesperson for the Service, Abdullahi Garba, who made the disclosure while briefing journalists at the Abuja Headquarters yesterday, pointed out that the recovery was the result of the series of special sting operations involving some Judges of the Supreme, Appeal and High Courts.
According to the Service, the breakdown of the recovered large amount in foreign/local currencies are N93,558,000.00, $530,087 (about N248, 619,803), £25,970 (about N15,062,600), €5,680 (about N2,840,000), approximately N362.911 million.
Refusing to disclose the identity of the judges and even to entertain any question after the briefing, Garba equally warned that the service had resolved to sustain the raid on the home of judges in line with its determination to sanitise the judiciary.
The DSS spokesman said: “The DSS in the past few days, has embarked on series of special sting operations involving some Judges of the Supreme, Appeal and High Courts. These operations were based on allegations of corruption and other acts of professional misconduct by a few of the suspected Judges.
“The Service action is in line with its core mandate, as we have been monitoring the expensive and luxurious lifestyle of some of the Judges as well as complaints from the concerned public over judgments obtained fraudulently and on the basis of amounts of money paid.
“The judges involved were invited, upon which due diligence was exhibited and their premises searched. The searches have uncovered huge raw cash of various denominations, local and foreign currencies, with real estate worth several millions of Naira and documents affirming unholy acts by these judges.
“Meanwhile, some of them have made useful statements while a few have declined even with the glaring evidences that were found against them in terms of material cash, documents and property recovered, pointing to their compromise.
“In one of the states where the Service operations were conducted, credible intelligence revealed that the judge had $2 million stashed in his house. When he was approached for due search to be conducted, he in concert with the governor of the state mobilized thugs against the Service team.
“The team restrained itself in the face of unbridled provocative activities by those brought in by the governor. Unfortunately, the judge and the governor also engaged the tacit support of a sister security agency.
“The Service surveillance team noticed that upon frustrating the operation, the Judge with the active support of the governor craftily moved the money to an unknown location which the Service is currently making effort to unravel.
“Meanwhile, large amount including foreign/local currencies have been recovered. Summaries of these include: N93,558,000.00, $530,087, £25,970, €5,680.
“Other foreign currencies were also recovered. These, were recovered from just three of the judges. These in addition to other banking documents, including real estate documents have been recovered. Meanwhile, preparations are ongoing to arraign them in a competent court of jurisdiction in line with the laws of the nation,” DSS said.
Speaking on other security issues, the DSS denied arresting or investigating Justice Walter Nkanu Onnoghen, emphasising: “The Service would want to clearly state that it has never invited Justice Walter Nkanu Onnoghen for investigation, neither is he being investigated by this Service. In addition, the Service would like to put it on record, that it has tremendous respect for the judiciary and would not do anything to undermine it or its activities.
“The Service will also join hands with this noble institution in its fight to rid it of few corrupt judges whose actions are undermining not only the judiciary, but the common bond of our national life.
The DSS assured that the current operation would be sustained and followed till sanity and sanctity have been restored to the esteemed third arm of government and public confidence is regained.