The judiciary vs the SSS
The recent “arrest” of judges in a “sting operation” by the “State Security Services” has generated an uproar in the country, and sharply divided Nigerians, pitting the pro-arrest group against the anti-arrest group.
The debates surrounding the “arrests” has witnessed the populist commendation of the “sting operation” by some Nigerians, who in their desire for a corruption-free Nigeria are unconcerned with the niceties: the legality or lack thereof of the “sting operation” that culminated in the “arrest” of the judges. They are neither concerned with its implications for Nigeria’s still “nascent democracy,” they simply want to see the corrupt big men and women (who have afflicted Nigeria) hanged.
On the other hand, are another set of Nigerians who are greatly disturbed by the purported ultra vires nay “illegal nature” of the “sting operation” conducted by the SSS – whose agents purportedly ‘stormed’ the bedrooms of men who were at sleep with their spouses, breaking down their bedroom-doors by 1a.m. in the wee hours of the morning, in a bid to forcibly effect their arrest; for an alleged crime, which has been said to be outside the statutory purview of the SSS.
It is submitted that the division, anger and furore generated by the seemingly well-intentioned “arrests” of revered members of the third arm of government, by agents of the executive arm, and the ugly questions raised about the current administration’s commitment and regard for democratic norms, only underscores the need for a more systematic, legal and efficient approach in the current administration’s war on corruption.
It is pertinent to note that every successful anti-corruption effort requires the buy-in of the people. While Nigerians desire an effective war on corruption, they are also equally concerned about the manner such a war is waged. Nigerians are not in the slightest bit prepared to have their liberties and hard-fought for democratic experience scuttled on the altar of a seemingly flawed anti-corruption war.
Thus, the current administration is enjoined to ensure that in its bid to deal corruption a mortal blow, the rule of law, which is the foundation of every free and democratic society is protected and not assaulted or even perceived to be assaulted. There is an urgent need for the development of a system that enables the effective delivery of death-blows to corruption, while simultaneously upholding the rule of law; to that extent commando “sting operations” by para-military agencies at ungodly hours of the night may not cut it.
It is humbly suggested that the nation’s statutory anti-corruption agencies, should be strengthened and empowered with the requisite political leverage and resources to effectively and efficiently discharge their mandate and duties. Furthermore, the National Judicial Council (NJC) must also be “encouraged” to become more alive to its disciplinary duties and leverage on its working relationship with anti-graft agencies in order to root out corruption from the judiciary.
It is submitted that a synergy between these agencies, would see to the reduction/elimination of corruption from the judiciary, while upholding the rule of law and safeguarding our democracy; and such a system would also permit the State Security Service the opportunity to fully concentrate on its noble mandate of securing Nigeria’s internal security via effective intelligence-gathering, “surgical operations and commando sting operations.”
May God bless and keep the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
• Ugochukwu is a lawyer, lives in Lagos.