The opposition Peoples Democratic Party has condemned the arrests of Supreme Court judges and others high court judges in a what it termed a Gestapo style, saying the President Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress (APC) administration is leading the nation to a fascist state.
The PDP, which stated this on Sunday in statement made available to LEADERSHIP in Abuja, said the action of the Department of State Security (DSS) was unconstitutional and abuse of due process and a threat to democracy.
The DSS had raided the house of two Supreme Court justices – Sylvanus Nguta and Inyang Okoro – and arrested them. It also raided the homes of judges of the Federal High Court – Muazu Pindiga, Adeniyi Ademola, Abdullahi Liman and Nnamdi Dimgba.
However, the Rivers State resisted the arrest of Liman, insisting the DSS action did not follow due process. Also Dimgba escaped arrest as at the time of the raid in his home, he was not around.
According to the PDP, the DSS action was an attack on the judiciary, which shows that President Buhari has no respect for the pillars of democracy.
The Full Press Statement
ARREST OF JUDGES: DESCENT INTO FASCISM – PDP
Sometime in the early hours of October 8th, 2016 men of the Directorate of State Security (DSS) carried out Gestapo like invasions on the homes of a number of Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria and the Federal High Court.
The affected Justices of the Supreme Court were, Sylvanus Ngwuta and Inyang Okoro. The affected Judges of the Federal High Court were Muazu Pindiga, Adeniyi Ademola, Abdullahi Liman and Nnamdi Dimgba.
At this time, Justices Ngwuta and Okoro of the Supreme Court and Justices Adeniyi & Pindiga had been abducted and detained. Justice Dimgba only escaped abduction because he was not at home at the time. Justice Abdullahi’s abduction was prevented by the timely intervention of Governor Nyesom Wike, who insisted on the observance of the rule of law and the application of due process.
Governor Nyesome Wike was assaulted by the men of the DSS during his intervention causing him to sustain injuries on his arm. At a point, an officer pointed a fully cocked gun at him and threatened to shoot him.
The invasion was carried out between 0100hrs and 0500hrs in the early morning using hundreds of fully armed men of the DSS. During the invasion, the Justices were manhandled and members of their families as well as their household staff beaten up.
This invasion is the latest in a series of actions taken by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration which reveal its disregard for the rule of law and its abject disdain for the Principle of Separation of Powers.
This inexorable slide into fascism began with the invasion of the Akwa Ibom State Government House by the self same DSS, the continued detention of several people despite Courts ordering their release, the invasion of the Ekiti State House of Assembly and detention of Hon. Akanni Afolabi and the invasion of the Zamfara State House of Assembly.
This slide into fascism has included a sustained attack on the leadership of the National Assembly as President Buhari has sought to break its independence and make it a rubber stamp to suit his will.
It is worthy to note that NEVER in the history of our Country has any President attacked the Judiciary in such a manner. Even the late dictator – General Sani Abacha, whose regime is remembered by many as the second worst regime in Nigerian history, did not carry out such Gestapo style attacks on the members of the Judiciary.
By bringing this attack to the Judiciary, President Buhari has shown that he has no desire to respect the pillars of our democracy. He has shown his desire to kill off our democracy and convert it to an autocracy without checks and balances.
The government has no regard for the rule of law. They do not care about Court Orders. This Government has disregarded the Orders of the ECOWAS Court and every other Courts in the land and continue to detain Dasuki illegally. They continue to detain hundreds of Nigerians without bringing them to trial and against valid Court Orders.
For the avoidance of doubt, the Constitution in Section 153(1)(i) and Part 1 of the Third Schedule thereto establishes the National Judicial Council (NJC) and empowers same to regulate and discipline judges across the Country. The proper path to follow to discipline erring judges will be to forward a petition containing any wrong doing to the NJC along with any evidence in support thereof.
The path not to follow is this Gestapo style invasion in the middle of the night that involves the use of sledgehammers to breakdown gates and front doors for DSS to gain access to the homes.
Nigerians can no longer afford to stand aside and watch the Buhari Administration destroy the foundations of our democracy that we have built for several years. Nigerians have a duty to speak out against this sort of tyranny.