It is understood that the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Mahmood Mohammed, has confronted Pres. Buhari in a face-to-face meeting at the Presidential Villa following the weekend crackdown on federal judges and two Supreme Court justices by the country’s secret police, Department of State Security (DSS).
The meeting, which took place in the morning of Monday (yesterday), October 10, 2016, was at the instance of Hon. Justice Mohammed, it was gathered.
Also present at the meeting were Lawal Daura, the Director-General of the DSS the President of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NIC) Babatunde Adejumo.
The meeting was so tensed and the never minced words when addressing the President on the matter. The visibly infuriated CJN tongue-lashed Pres. Buhari for violating the democratic principles of separation of powers and assuming the unconstitutional status of ‘supervisor’ of the judiciary, an independent arm of government.
Justice Mohammed accused Pres. Buhari of victimizing the judges targeted in the midnight crackdown by the DSS for refusing to be intimidated by the secret police over the matters of the election petitions of Rivers and Akwa Ibom states.
The CJN also exposed a series of scare and intimidation tactics carried out by the DSS DG, a kinsman to President Buhari, to make the bench bow to its wishes and overturn the judgement against the current governors of two oil-rich states.
Mohammed expressly accused the DSS DG of using the name of Pres. Buhari in carrying out what he called an ‘unprecedented attempt to influence the bench and pervert justice’ in the country.
The President was visibly upset by the revelations and repeatedly denied knowledge of such harassment of judges by the DSS.
Mr. Daura attempted to deny knowledge of such ‘underground’ moves and claimed that the judges that were arrested, in what the secret police wrongly termed as ‘sting operation’, were corrupt. A claim which saw the CJN shout him down, order him to shut up and sit down.
After lambasting the secret police boss, Justice Mohammed proceeded to reel out instances in which Daura contacted judges handling the election petition cases claiming that ruling in favour of the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidates was ‘what President Buhari wanted’. Again, the President denied issuing such instructions.
The CJN also revealed that the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, offered the judges millions of dollars to overturn their ruling on the two election petitions. He said the Honourable Justices rebuffed Amaechi because they were hell-bent on delivering a sound judgment as regards the cases which had been unduly sensationalized by politicians.
Justice Mohammed revealed that Amaechi also said that he was acting on the orders of the President and that in actual fact, the judges arrested over the weekend were those who refused to be corrupted by the DSS and Amaechi and insisted on preserving the independence and integrity of the bench.
Based on the revelations, Pres. Buhari had the facial expression of a worried man and requested that the CJN puts down his position which subsequently done.
Now, the climate in Aso Rock is said to be unusually tensed following the posture and damning revelations by the CJN.
There are whispers in the corridors that based on the gravity of the allegations against the DSS DG and Amaechi, Pres. Buhari might sack the duo in a bid to ‘clear his name from the embarrassing episode’.
Recall Pres Buhari appointed Lawal Daura, his kinsman from his hometown in Katsina State on July 2, as head of the DSS after firing Ita Ekpeyong. Daura was recalled from retirement as he had retired from the service of the DSS when he reached the mandatory age of 60 according to the Civil Service rules of Nigeria. He is also a member of the APC and served in the security committee for Buhari’s presidential campaign.
While the election petitions were being heard at the courts, the INEC resident electoral commissioner (RECs) for Akwa Ibom, Austin Okojie, was detained and tortured for 13 days and his Rivers State counterpart, Gesila Khan, was also detained for two weeks by the DSS. It is believed that the harassment, detention, and torture of electoral officials of the two oil rich states was in connection with the interest of Pres. Buhari in reclaiming electoral victory from main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in those states.
None of the INEC officials detained by the DSS have been charged with any crime and the election petitions were eventually ruled in favour of the PDP by the Supreme Court.