Judges’ arrest: NBA declares state of emergency

According to reports, the Nigerian Bar Association on Saturday declared a state of emergency in the judiciary following the midnight arrest of some judges by the Department of State Services.


The declaration of the state of emergency was made on Saturday evening in Lagos by the NBA President, Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN).

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Mahmoud addressed the press alongside four past presidents of the association – Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), Dr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN); Mr. J.B. Daudu (SAN) and Augustine Alegeh (SAN).

Others in attendance at the declaration, which held at Eko Hotel, Victoria Island, were Prof. Kayinsola Ajayi (SAN), Mr. Yusuf Ali (SAN), Mr. Dele Adesina (SAN), among others.

Mahmoud said two Supreme Court justices, Inyang Okoro and Sylvester Ngwuta were “abducted”, with their families, adding that he had yet to have the full detail of other judges who could have been involved.

Mahmoud said the NBA condemned what it termed the Gestapo-style operation of the DSS.

He announced the constitution of an emergency or crisis management team, comprising past NBA presidents to engage with the government.

Mahmoud, who said it was not the responsibility of the DSS to arrest judges, described the DSS action as an unconstitutional means of intimidating the judiciary and undermining its independence.

The NBA President called on President Muhammadu Buhari to order the immediate release of the arrested judges, vowing that there would be consequences should the demand be ignored.

Mahmoud said, “I want to emphasise again that we are not under military rule and we cannot accept this unholy event and Gestapo-style operation.

“We, therefore, call on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately caution all the state security agencies and to respect the rule of law and to respect due process.

“Any issues affecting the judicial officers, there are established procedures for handling them and we demand that this constitutional process must be obeyed.

“Given the unfolding nature of the event and the seriousness of the situation, the NBA hereby declares a state of emergency as it affects the affairs of the judiciary and I hereby constitute a crisis management team, comprising all past presidents of the association.

“I want to, on behalf of the association, make the very following clear and unequivocal demands: we demand the immediate and unconditional release of all the judges abducted from about 9pm yesterday (Friday).

“The release must be done immediately and without any conditions. Two, we demand that the Department of State Services should limit itself to its statutory and constitutional responsibilities.

“I’ll be meeting with the CJN later tonight or tomorrow. There will be consequences should these demands are not met.”



  1. I respect President Buhari for his confidence. If we are not in military regime does not mean judges should see white and call it black even when it is not favouring the masses. It is the same court that ordered Buhari not mention the names of the looters. Haba! enough is enough! Please arrest more so that they will learn.

  2. What state of emergency? Is it from the renown SANs that are experts in bribing judges and collect Billions as fees to subvert justice? The Legal profession should have serious concern over the multiple cases of same court in different jurisdiction pass judgment on same matter differently, and some are getting ridiculous. Now, the massive bribes allegedly collected are also allegedly uncovered from homes of Judges. Those judges who rules on similar matters differently when the parties of the cases changed? Like the election Tribunal in one eastern state, similar facts, similar situation and circumstances, the Judge ruled differently when the parties become another political party. Would anyone be surprised if such Judge was searched and money in large quantity found stocked in his house? Some where dismissed, sacked, terminated for corruption by the National Judicial Service Commission. Some of these have caused serious harm to justice. Must we wait for NJC alone to checkmate, then, some will never get cut. If DSS suspects corruption, they can check on the Judge, if nothing, then he would be free.

  3. State of Emergency??? Where were you when the Judges were giving conflicting rulings in same case, letting criminals off e.g Ibori ,alliwung accused to be given back their passport ostensibly to go for medical treatment abroad thereby escaping the arms of the law in Nigeria??? Is it not because the SANs are the ones comprising themselves with all their shenanigans in defending corrupt politician?? Nigerians are watching this conflict of interest you people have put yourselves.

  4. NBA What do you say to the stack of money (currencies) both local & foreign recovered from the houses of these judges? Only God knows how much would have been found in the house of the judge in Port Harcourt if not for the ‘shield’ provided for him by Governor Wike?. Shameless people.

  5. I really do not have much issues with SANS and judges keeping money in their houses , but come to think about it how does one explain the amount being talked about , the quantity and the various currencies. State of emergency rather should be on the judges purging themselves of delivering conflicting judgement on similar cases. God will help us.

  6. Your problem in Nigeria is that when you hear money was recovered some of you go wild. What you don’t get to know is that there are procedures and methods in a Democratic setting to deal with matters. I don’t know that any sensible lawyer will support bribery in the judiciary because that will affect all but what they are saying is that there are procedure in dealing with matters like this without trampling on Democracy, rule of law, human rights etc. if you support this dictatorial aspects of the government because you are not affected today it may be your turn tomorrow and it may not be DSS but your local police at your level. Nigeria need prayers and lots of it period.

  7. Kenso,they were covered by law to go and raid the houses of the judges. They are no different from any other citizen except those specifically given immunity by the Constitution. If they are corrupt, they should be arrested and dealt with according to the law like any other citizen

  8. Tina, nobody should be above the law but how can you justify going in to arrest a Supreme Court judge at 1am in the morning. I am only worried about the method because ther are procedures. We were not there but going by what we read, this is not good for our democracy. The method chosen is definitely going to affect the outcome of these cases because DDS will have to take these matters to the judges domain and will need their colleagues to achieve any results or don’t you know so. The law profession is like a fraternity and for any credible result accepted by the civilized world convictions have to go through due process.

    • Kenso,Nigerians will be watching and the prosecution lawyer will do his job according to the laws of Nigeria. Let us see what Judge will hear the case and not follow the law. It is only in Nigeria that Judges do not face the consequences of breaking the law and are given soft landing by NJC. I was in Ohio..Columbus when a Judge was arrested by police for DUI,brought before one of her colleagues prosecuted and sentenced. In Nigeria it would never have happened!!!

  9. Kendo, there is no rule limiting the time of day to make an arrest. We have to come to terms with the fact that we’re in a desperate situation in Nigeria. It has become obvious to any right thinking person following events in our country that the judiciary has become an institution of monumental corruption, busy perverting justice. We need some action in addition to our prayers. Cheers!

  10. Nosa whatever you say. I don’t know that the govt will be able to convict any of them. They bungle issues because nobody in The govt prepare for things before engaging, you can see that in Nigeria sports, elections, road work everything about govt. At the end of the day they fail or retreat. In the United States which we all use for example, nobody will speak to a suspect in crimes like that until they have completed their investigations and have a tight case then the will get in for arrests.
    Watch and see how clumsy the matter will appear in court.

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