In October 2016 a number of senior judges from all levels of Nigeria's superior courts of record (ie, the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court) were arrested. The arrests garnered significant attention due to the fact that they were made by the State Security Service (the internal intelligence agency), rather than the Nigeria Police Force, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission or the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (which would have been expected to have been involved).

Of the seven judges arrested, only two have been charged to date. Of these two, one – a Federal High Court judge – was discharged on April 5 2017 following a no case submission by his counsel. The trial judge dismissed the prosecution evidence as amounting to nothing more than "suspicion and speculation". Stung by this reversal, the prosecution announced its intention to appeal the decision and, in addition, has reportedly filed different charges against the judge before the Code of Conduct Tribunal. While that body does not have the power to imprison the judge, it can, if it finds him guilty, remove him from office and bar him from holding any future government appointment.

This reversal must have been embarrassing for the government, given the manner in which it conducted the operation to arrest this particular judge, laying siege to his residence for several hours before eventually taking his front door off its hinges. It also calls into question the value of the evidence obtained against the arrested judges and the competence of the agencies charged with their prosecution.

For further information on this topic please contact Babajide Oladipo Ogundipe at Sofunde Osakwe Ogundipe & Belgore by telephone (+234 1 462 2502) or email (boogundipe@sooblaw.com). The Sofunde Osakwe Ogundipe & Belgore website can be accessed at www.sooblaw.com.

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