When officials of the Department of State Services (DSS) stormed the official residence of one of the seven judges raided recently, they found a fleet of 15 exotic cars including a Rolls Royce.
Rolls-Royce Limited is a British car-manufacturing and, later, aero-engine manufacturing company founded by Charles Stewart Rolls and Sir Frederick Henry Royce on 15 March 1906 as a result of a partnership formed in 1904.
Its latest cars cost at least over N100 million depending on the brand and the exchange rate of the naira to a dollar.
The same judge whose name is being shielded, according to The Nation, reportedly was said to have hired a notable construction firm to build his palatial home. He also imported furniture from Brazil, Argentina and Spain.
Judges are supposed to be public servants with salaries also determined by the rules, but this particular judge is said to be proud of his property as he once conducted his colleagues round the mansion.
“Operatives have discovered that one of the judges owns a mansion which was contracted to a construction firm at a huge cost. In fact, the judge imported furniture from Brazil, Argentina and Spain.
“At a stage, he conducted his ‘poor colleagues’ round the mansion in an open display of affluence. The judge has about 15 cars, including a Rolls Royce. This Rolls Royce was imported.
“During interrogation, another judge told DSS team that he did not know how and when N18 million was lodged in his account because he was not getting alert from his bank. But we have evidence of withdrawals from the account.
“We have retrieved the assets declaration forms of these judges. It was shocking that one of them has three asset declaration forms with different dates of birth,” the report quoted a source as saying.
In his confessional statement, one of the seven judges arrested reportedly told the DSS that he did not know how N18 million got into his account. He also denied getting an alert that would have made him complain to the bank.
One other judge said the money found in his account was an accumulated medical allowance.
While the judges have continued to make useful information to the operatives, the government seems to have foreclosed their return to their profession as it is believed they cannot be facing trial and still be in the adjudicating cases.
In a string operation recently, the secret operatives stormed the homes of Justices Sylvester Ngwuta and Inyang Okoro, the suspended presiding justice of the Court of Appeal, Ilorin division, Justice Mohammed Ladan Tsamiya, who was picked up in Sokoto; Justice Adeniyi Ademola (Federal High Court); the Chief Judge of Enugu state, Justice I. A. Umezulike; Justice Kabiru Auta of Kano state High Court; and Justice Muazu Pindiga (Gombe state High Court).
The source further told disclosed that the government has asked the National Judicial Council (NJC) to suspend the affected judges pending the outcome of their trial.
“The position of the government is that none of these judges will be allowed back to the bench in the interest of the nation’s Judiciary. They cannot be arraigned in the dock and at the same time be adjudicating or attending to cases.
“It is left to the NJC to allow the affected judges to keep off the bench until their fate is determined. But certainly, they will face trial and the outcome will determine whether or not they will be retired or dismissed.
“We are expecting the NJC to do the needful by suspending the judges,” he said.