In Separate Probe, EFCC Begins Investigation of Eight Judges, Two Court Registrars

At least eight Nigerian judges and two court registrars are being investigated following allegations of corruptions levelled against them, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has said.

The announcement came six days after the State Security Services raided the homes of seven other judges and arrested them over graft charges. Justice Mohammed Liman could not be arrested in Port Harcourt after Rivers Governor, Nyesom Wike and the police blocked SSS operatives from doing so.

The arrested judges were released on bail on Sunday. The SSS however said eight others might soon be rounded up to answer questions regarding alleged corruption.

In its statement Thursday, the EFCC said investigations were proceeding well in the fresh and unrelated probe and that the judges found culpable would soon be arrested and charged to court.

The names of the judges being investigated were however not disclosed.

"Some of the suspects who have been invited have made useful statements that have been of great assistance to the investigations," EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, said in a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES.

"In due course, those who have cases to answer would be arrested and charged to court."

The commission said "of the seven judges who are subject of the SSS raids, only one of them previously featured in a petition on alleged corruption to the EFCC."

Investigation into the petitions against the judges, it said, had reached advanced stage when one of the judges got a Federal High Court order to stop further probe by the Commission.

"EFCC is still trying to vacate that order for the investigation to proceed unfettered," Mr. Uwujaren said.

The anti-graft agency was responding to a newspaper report suggesting that the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, had lost confidence in the EFCC, and now preferred to direct corruption allegations to the SSS for investigation.

But in its statement, the EFCC argued that the report was incorrect, saying, "there is no friction with the office of the AGF and the Commission is not involved in inter-agency squabbles with the SSS."

"Indeed, the Commission, along with the SSS, ICPC, Police and the office of the AGF, is a member of a technical committee that meets at the highest level of government to collaborate and coordinate strategies against corruption," Mr. Uwujaren said. "The last such meeting was as recently as today."

He added, "However, Nigerians deserve to know that the nature of professional investigation of financial crimes is highly discrete and not given to theatre.

"The subject usually does not know the Commission is amassing evidences against him or her for several months before the strike. Therefore, the notion that a petition is submitted today and the next things that follow are instant arrests, prosecution and convictions is highly misleading."

Below is the full statement by the EFCC.

EFCC PRESS RELEASE Re: Why AGF Shuns EFCC, Sends Judges' Cases to DSS

The attention of the EFCC has been drawn to a story in the Thursday, 13 October edition of The Punch, headlined, 'Why AGF shuns EFCC, Sends Judges' Cases to DSS'. The story, quoting some unnamed sources, tried to drive wedges between the Commission and the office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) on the one hand and the Commission and the Department of State Services (DSS) on the other. It alleges among others, that the Office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation, frustrated by the alleged tardiness of the EFCC in handling petitions forwarded to it, now sends the same cases to the DSS.

EFCC wishes to put on record, that there is no friction with the office of the AGF and the Commission is not involved in inter-agency squabbles with the DSS. Indeed, the Commission, along with the DSS, ICPC, Police and the office of the AGF, is a member of a technical committee that meets at the highest level of government to collaborate and coordinate strategies against corruption. The last such meeting was as recently as today.

Further, it must be stated that of the seven judges who are subject of the DSS raids, only one of them previously featured in a petition on alleged corruption to the EFCC. Investigation into the petition had reached an advanced stage, when one of the judges got a Federal High Court order to stop further investigation by the Commission. EFCC is still trying to vacate that order for the investigation to proceed unfettered.

However, Nigerians deserve to know that the nature of professional investigation of financial crimes is highly discrete and not given to theatre. The subject usually does not know the Commission is amassing evidences against him or her for several months before the strike. Therefore, the notion that a petition is submitted today and the next things that follow are instant arrests, prosecution and convictions is highly misleading.

In this regard, EFCC is currently investigating eight (8) judges and two (2) court registrars. Some of the suspects who have been invited have made useful statements that have been of great assistance to the investigations. In due course, those who have cases to answer would be arrested and charged to court.

Wilson Uwujaren Head, Media & Publicity 13/10/2016

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