Embattled High Court judge, Justice Abdullahi Liman of the Federal High Court Port-Harcourt Division has denied claims that he moved $2 million from his official residence during a sting operation by officers of the Department of State Services (DSS), adding that he was not the target of the raid.
Liman stated this at a public hearing conducted by the Hon. Garba Datti-led House of Representatives Adhoc Committee investigating cases of invasion of property and arrest of persons for reasons outside the general duties of the DSS, yesterday.
Between October 7 and 8, DSS raided the homes of some senior judges, in Abuja, Port Harcourt, Gombe, Kano, Enugu and Sokoto states.
Justice Liman said his reputation degenerated by false reports emanating from the raid. This was even as he blamed a section of online media for reporting that he was the unnamed judge which the DSS said in its statement quickly moved money out of his home during its operation.
Liman also told the committee that it was Justice Uche Agomoh’s home that was the target of the Saturday, October 8 raid, which he said lasted from 1:00am to 4:00am.
“I must state categorically that the DSS did not come to my house, which is No. 33 but it was Justice Agomoh’s house they targeted. It was shocking and frightening when, on Saturday afternoon, the DSS released an official statement claiming to have attempted to search the house of an unnamed judge, who, when approached, resisted and mobilised thugs and with the assistance of Governor Nyesom Wike and the tacit support of a sister security organisation, removed $2 million which was stashed in his house to an unknown place…”
Another judge of the Federal High Court, Abuja who was arrested during the raid in Abuja, Nnamdi Dimgba who appeared at the hearing, however, said it would be prejudicial to speak on the matter.
Meanwhile, Speaker Yakubu Dogara, who declared the hearing open stressed that the House was investigating the propriety, or otherwise, of operations conducted by the DSS, at the homes of judges and other alleged DSS invasion of Akwa Ibom State governor’s lodge and Ekiti State House of Assembly.
Dogara who was represented by the Minority Whip, Yakubu Barde, said the peobe will be useful should the National Assembly find reasons to amend the National Securities Agencies Act.
“It is critical that any investigation of this nature must have a legislative purpose as required by section 88 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended. It is in this regard that I enjoin this committee to make relevant findings of fact that will enable the National Assembly initiate the necessary amendments to the National Security Agencies Act and even the Constitution, where necessary”.
But, a mild drama played out when chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), Sam Saba reversed his position that the DSS has the power to arrest judges over allegations of corruption as corrupt acts are a threat to national security.
Earlier, Saba cited section 2 sub section 3 of the National Security Agencies (NSA) Act Cap N74 which states that the DSS has powers of prevention, detention within Nigeria against the internal security of the country.
He further cited Section 4 and the provisions of subsection (1) (2) and (3) of the NSA Act, saying it shall have effect not withstanding the provision of any other law to the contrary or any other natter therein mentioned.
He also told the committee that the DSS didn’t need to give the National Judicial Council (NJC) prior notice before arresting the judges. He equally stated that the CCB has powers to investigate criminal allegations against judges, especially with regards to under-declaring or false declaration of assets.
But Saba chose to withdraw his statement when asked by committee members, Kingsley Chinda and Edward Pwajok to state categorically, if false declaration of assets by public officers threatened internal security of the country.
Explaining his role during the failed arrest of Justice Agomoh, Governor Wike blasted the DSS and described the episode as a “national tragedy,” adding that the DSS failed to observe the rule of law in conducting the Port-Harcourt raid.
According to the governor, the DSS operatives, one of who assaulted him, didn’t know where exactly they were headed to even as they conducted themselves in an unprofessional manner. The governor was represented by his Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Emmanuel Aguma.