FILE - Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari speaks at the presidential villa in Abuja, Nigeria, May 14, 2016.
FILE - Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari speaks at the presidential villa in Abuja, Nigeria, May 14, 2016.

In Nigeria, several justices of the supreme court and judges of high courts have been arrested and jailed on suspicion of corruption and professional misconduct’. 

Security forces raided the homes of the justices and judges last Friday and Saturday.

One local media report, quoting a security official, said as much as $2 million was found stashed in the home of one of the judges

Action against judges began after allegations of corruption

Justice Minister Abubakar Malami says the operation is not against the judiciary as an institution, but rather it is part of an investigation into allegations of corruption among individuals in the judiciary.

“Allegations were made; petitions were written against the conduct of judicial officers, and regardless of who is involved, whether judicial officer, executive officer, or legislative officer, once there is an allegation of corrupt practices, it becomes necessary and indispensable that an investigation in the circumstances be carried out. So it is not about being a judicial officer, it is about the existence of reasonable grounds of suspicion of the commission of offenses arising from complaints that were made against the personalities involved,” he said.

The National Judicial Council has been meeting for the past two days over the arrest of the judges and justices but has not issued a statement on the matter.

Bar Association wants judges and justices released

But Nigerian Bar Association president Abubakar Balarabe Mahmoud has reportedly called for immediate release of the judges, saying the association will do everything to “protect the sanctity of the judiciary”.

Justice Minister Malami said some of the judges and justices have since been granted bail and released while others were released on their own recognizance.

He said the clamp down on the judges and justices is rooted in the suspicion of financial corruption and professional misconduct.

“It is the combination of the two. In respect of others, what especially matters was financial corruption. In respect of others were fraudulent decisions that were believed substantially by the petitioners to be rooted in some corrupt undertone,” Malami said.

He said he could not give the exact number of judges and justices involved because the investigation is ongoing and expanding. However, he said a “sizable number” is involved. 

One local media report said as many as 15 judges were being investigated and seven have so far been arrested.

Justice Minister Malami said the ongoing investigation of the judges and justices is in line with President Muhammadu Buhari government’s determination to end Nigeria corruption.