Legal Nigeria

Embattled judges: DSS uncovers Supreme Court’s secret account

Supreme :me Court’s bank account said to  contain billions of naira has attracted  the  attention  of  the Department of State Security Services ( DSS).
The organization is currentCreditrobing seven judges,two of them justices of the apex court,for alleged corruption.

The account, The Nation gathered authoritatively yesterday ,is  being operated outside the civil service procedures.
Money from it was also said to have been withdrawn regularly to fund foreign travels of some judges.
The agency is now investigating how and for what reason (s)  the account was opened.
Supreme Court justices and even staff of the apex court are believed to draw from it.
Investigators suspect that the dollars seized from the homes of some of the judges under probe may have come from the account.
The  DSS has already restricted the movement of the Registrar of the Supreme Court, Ahmed Saleh and some top officials to the country on account of its investigation of the suspicious account.

Also restricted  are the Director of Finance, Muhammed Abdulrahman Sharif and Rilwanu Lawal.
Only last Thursday,the Federal Government filed a nine-count charge of diversion of N2.2billion against the three top officials.
A highly-placed source said: “In line with the current investigation of some judges, the DSS has discovered a suspicious account in the Supreme Court. The modalities for the operation of the account allegedly against the extant financial regulations were being probed by the security agency.

“Preliminary investigation revealed that the suspicious account was used to cater for foreign trips of some judges, including a few ones who were arrested by the DSS.
“The remittances into the account were in billions of Naira. There is a strong suspicion by the DSS that the dollars seized from the residences of some of these judges were drawn from the suspicious account.
“Some principal officers have been interrogated by the secret service. The manner in which the account was operated was suspected to be outside the extant laws in the civil service.
“It is left to the civil servants to prove that the processes of opening the account and managing it were legal and transparent. Otherwise, they have a case to answer.”
Another source  said  one of the officials was intercepted at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport , Abuja while trying  to travel  out of the country for a conference.
“None of the officials can travel out until the ongoing investigation is completed,” the source said.
It was also gathered yesterday that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission( EFCC) quizzed the National Legal Adviser of the All Progressives Congress
( APC), Dr. Muiz Banire, in connection with the payment of N500,000 into the account of a judge of the National Industrial Court( NIC).

Dr. Banire was interrogated at the Lagos office of the commission.
An EFCC source  said Banire  “claimed that it was not a bribe but an assistance to the judge when he lost one of his parents.
“We are still continuing investigation into the transaction.”
Banire’s interrogation brings to 11 the number of senior advocates (SANs) being investigated by the anti-graft commission for alleged corruption in the judiciary.
Six judges are similarly being probed.
The judges are Justices Agbadu James Fishim; Uwani Abba Aji; Mohammed Nasir Yunusa; Hyeladzira Ajiya Nganjiwa; Musa Haruna Kurya and  the only female judge, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia.
Some of the judges had earlier reported to the Commission on Monday 17th October 2016 and yesterday 18th October 2016.

Two of the five judges were alleged to have received over N2.75million bribe from two senior lawyers Rickey Tarfa (SAN) and Joseph Nwobike (SAN).
The EFCC had on March 9, 2016 arraigned Tarfa and Nwobike before Lagos High Court on allegations of bribery and offering gratification to a public official.
Nwobike and Tarfa are facing criminal prosecution for allegedly offering gratification to Federal High Court judges to refrain them from exercising the duties of their office.