Category: Press Release

VANGUARD: LEPAD Queries NASS’ Invitation of Arrested Judges

ABUJA – The Legal Defence and Assistance Project, LEDAP, has challenged the powers of the National Assembly to summon or question any of the seven judges arrested by the Department of State Service, DSS, over allegation of corruption. The body, in a statement on Sunday, said it was wrong for the National Assembly to summon the accused judges to appear before the Senate Committee on Judiciary. It maintained that the legislature has no oversight powers over judicial officers under the constitutional principle of separation of powers as entrenched in sections 4, 5 and 6 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

LEDAP draws the attention of the National Assembly that under the Constitution, it is only the National Judicial Council (NJC) that has the power of control and discipline of judges and justices of superior courts in Nigeria. Any interference by the legislature or the executive into the conduct of judges in carrying out their judicial functions will amount to unlawful interference with the independence of the judiciary.

The 1999 Constitution, unlike the legal framework of past military regimes, has consolidated the independence of the judiciary and established the NJC as the only body responsible for management of the judiciary.

LEDAP is concerned that the recent raid and arrest of judges and justices by the DSS, and continued assault and raid on judges by other agencies of the executive, have the effect of opening up the judiciary to unlawful and unconstitutional interference and intimidation by other arms of government, the reason for which the Senate has the temerity to speak about inviting judicial officers for questioning. “LEDAP will shortly approach the courts to seek orders restraining any such invitation or summon of the arrested judicial officers as it amounts to attempt to brow-beat and intimidate the judiciary.

There are a lot of corruption issues and corrupt politicians in the legislature and executive which should pre-occupy the Senators. The scandal arising from the padding of the budget, which has been going on for many years in the legislature with connivance of the executive, as well as bogus and secretive huge allowances and emoluments claimed by legislators are more damaging economic crimes against the Nigerian people that the Senate should address rather than intimidating few judges alleged to be corrupt.

There are several court orders directing the National Assembly to disclose salaries and emoluments of its members, and details of constituency allowances claimed yearly by legislators . It has refused to obey these judgements of the courts.

The legislators appropriate nearly a quarter of national wealth to themselves and account to no one. Nigerian legislators, adjudged as the most corrupt and most expensive in the world, has no legal or moral right to superintendent over alleged corruption in the judiciary.

LEDAP calls on the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to resist attempts by the executive and legislature to control and manage the judiciary. Such situation will on the long run denigrate the judiciary and legal profession and threaten the rule of law.

The independence of the judiciary, as guaranteed in the Constitution, is essential element of any democracy. The NBA can work with NJC to improve on its complaint management system to ensure that judicial discipline is effectively and efficiently enforced. “The association cannot, as a result of current challenges, allow the other arms of government to destroy the age-long integrity of the Nigerian judiciary”, read the statement signed by National Coordinator of the body, Mr. Chino Obiagwu.

 
Read more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2016/10/lepad-queries-nass-invitation-arrested-judges/

PRESS RELEASE: NASS HAS NO POWER TO SUMMON OR QUESTION ARRESTED JUDGES

Lagos, October 23 2016:

The Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) strongly condemns recent plan by the Committee on Judiciary of the Senate to summon judges who were recently arrested by the DSS. The legislature has no oversight powers over judicial officers under the constitutional principle of separation of powers entrenched in sections 4, 5 and 6 of the 1999 Constitution.

LEDAP draws the attention of the National Assembly that under the Constitution, it is only the National Judicial Council (NJC) that has the power of control and discipline of judges and justices of superior courts in Nigeria. Any interference by the legislature or the executive into the conduct of judges in carrying out their judicial functions will amount to unlawful interference with the independence of the judiciary. The 1999 Constitution, unlike the legal framework of past military regimes, has consolidated the independence of the judiciary and established the NJC as the only body responsible for management of the judiciary.

LEDAP is concerned that the recent raid and arrest of judges and justices by the DSS, and continued assault and raid on judges by other agencies of the executive, have the effect of opening up the judiciary to unlawful and unconstitutional interference and intimidation by other arms of government, the reason for which the Senate has the temerity to speak about inviting judicial officers for questioning. LEDAP will shortly approach the courts to seek orders restraining any such invitation or summon of the arrested judicial officers as it amounts to attempt to brow-beat and intimidate the judiciary.

There are a lot of corruption issues and corrupt politicians in the legislature and executive which should preoccupy the Senators. The scandal arising from the padding of the budget, which has been going on for many years in the legislature with connivance of the executive, as well as bogus and secretive huge allowances and emoluments claimed by legislators are more damaging economic crimes against the Nigerian people that the Senate should address rather than intimidating few judges alleged to be corrupt. There are several court orders directing the National Assembly to disclose salaries and emoluments of its members, and details of constituency allowances claimed yearly by legislators . It has refused to obey these judgements of the courts. The legislators appropriate nearly a quarter of national wealth to themselves and account to no one. Nigerian legislators, adjudged as the most corrupt and most expensive in the world, has no legal or moral right to superintendent over alleged corruption in the judiciary.

LEDAP calls on the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to resist attempts by the executive and legislature to control and manage the judiciary. Such situation will on the long run denigrate the judiciary and legal profession and threaten the rule of law. The independence of the judiciary, as guaranteed in the Constitution, is essential element of any democracy. The NBA can work with NJC to improve on its complaint management system to ensure that judicial discipline is effectively and efficiently enforced. The association cannot, as a result of current challenges, allow the other arms of government to destroy the age-long integrity of the Nigerian judiciary.

Chino Obiagwu
National Coordinator LEDAP

PRESS RELEASE: LEDAP Faults NBA on Arrested Judges, says Judges Cannot Step Aside

Lagos 22 October 2016: The Legal Defence & Assistance Project (LEDAP) has condemned the statement credited to the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. A. B. Mahmoud SAN calling on the judges and justices of various courts arrested by the State Security Services on 7th and 8th October 2016 to step aside until the end of the investigation on the allegations against them.

The NBA’s call negates the constitutional rights of the judicial officers to presumption of innocence, and overlooks the true purpose of the attack on the judges by the executive, which was to intimidate and brow-beat the judiciary into total submission to the whims and caprices of the executive arm of government.

NBA’s call for the suspension of these judges is more worrisome in situation where the association is not also calling for the investigation and prosecution of Rotimi Amaechi, the Minister of Transport, and other persons in government or connected with the ruling party who have been accused by the judges of attempting to bribe them and interfering with administration of justice.
LEDAP is convinced that the State Security Services acted beyond its powers in searching the premises of the judicial officers and in arrested them, because its enabling statute limits its duties to the detection and prevention of crimes against the internal security of Nigeria.

It is wrong for the NBA to rely on such illegal and provocative raid and arrest of the judges to demand that they are suspended pending investigations on the allegations against them. Such suspension of the judges will give cloth of legality to an illegality. The State Security Service has no powers under the National Security Agencies Act or any other law to undertake investigation and prosecution of corruption and economic crimes. There is no way the judicial officers who were unduly and unjustifiably molested, embarrassed and intimidated by the SSS are expected to step aside or be suspended because of the illegal raid on them. Rather, LEDAP expects the NBA to be vigorously calling for the arrest and prosecution of the officials of the State Security Services who authorized, or participated in the unlawful attack on the judges.

The NBA, as the umbrella association of lawyers, including the judicial officers, and the voice of the legal profession, has the legal and moral duties to protect the integrity of judicial officials and the independence of the judiciary. To make a u-turn from its initial stand, in which it strongly condemned the search and arrest of the judicial officials, and now to call for their suspension or reclusion, is an unfortunate compromise on due process and independence of the judiciary.
Judicial officers, by the nature of their judicial calling, are voiceless. Thus, only the NBA can stand and speak for them. If the NBA turns its back on judicial officials at this time that the executive wants to brow-beat and denigrate the judiciary and the legal profession, it portends great danger to the rule of law and democracy in Nigeria.

LEDAP wishes to remind the leadership of the NBA that the right to presumption of innocence is a cardinal principle in justice delivery, and if the judicial officials are forced to step down, they would have been accused and adjudged guilty even by a body that is not authorized by law to do so.
LEDAP calls on the President of the NBA to withdraw this part of his delivery in the statements credited to him at the valedictory session of Hon Justice Denton West, and to continue to stand with the progressive elements in the justice sector to demand the prosecution of the officers of SSS that unlawfully attacked and arrested the judges. If there is an allegation against any judge, it should be sent to the NJC who is constitutionally mandated to handle the discipline of judicial officers, and if such complaint is found to involve commission of crime, refer the case to the appropriate agency authorized by law to investigate and prosecute such crime.

The NBA under the new leadership of A. B. Mahmoud SAN should work with the NJC to improve on its compliant-management system rather than allow the executive arm of government to interfere with the independence and integrity of the judiciary.

Chino Obiagwu
National Coordinator

DAILY TRUST: LEDAP Reacts To Judges’ Arrest

Courtesy  Ekekeee.com
Courtesy Ekekeee.com

The Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) has condemned the arrest of and assault on some judges across Nigeria following the raid of their residences by the Department of State Services (DSS).

The night raid, according to LEDAP, was a flagrant assault on the rule of law and interference with the integrity and independence of the judiciary.

“It amounts to crass intimidation of judges, which is the first line of attack of dictatorships,” it said.

Chino Obiagwu, National Coordinator LEDAP called on all lawyers to rise in unison to condemn this attack on the judiciary by the Executive, and in solidarity and in protest to boycott the courts next week from Monday October 10 to Friday October 14 2016 in order to send strong message to President Muhammadu Buhari’s regime that the legal profession will not stand by and watch the desecration and denigration of the judiciary.

“It is to the detriment of the Bar and Bench in Nigeria for the security agencies to make spurious allegations and illegally try judges in the pages of newspapers. It raises wrong and unjustified public perception of the justice system, and impugns on public confidence in justice and governance.

“LEDAP calls on the federal government to immediately investigate and punish security officials implicated in this unwholesome act. It was wrong to execute improperly issued and illegally executed search warrants at night on judges, and in any event, without prior recourse to the head of the judiciary. The constitutional principle of separation of powers is sacrosanct and once eroded, will drive Nigeria to a tyranny” Obiagwu said.


Read more at http://www.dailytrust.com.ng/news/general/lawyers-react-to-judges-arrest/165833.html#ziiBxQrvkJ86RTUL.99

CHANNELS TELEVISION: Judges Arrest: LEDAP Asks Lawyers To Boycott Courts This Week

NBA, LEDAP on judges arrest
Courtesy Channels Television

The Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) has condemned the raid of residences of some judges in Nigeria, and the arrest of some of them by the Department of state Services (DSS).

It described the night raid as a flagrant assault on the rule of law and interference with the integrity and independence of judges, saying it amounts to crass intimidation of judges, which is the first line of attack of dictatorships.

Attack On The Judiciary

LEDAP called on all lawyers to rise in unison to condemn what it called an attack on the judiciary by the executive and in protest boycott the courts next week from Monday, October 10 to Friday, October 14.

It said the action would send a strong message to the President Buhari regime that the legal profession would not stand by and watch the desecration and denigration of the judiciary.

“It is to the detriment of the Bar and Bench in Nigeria for the security agencies to make spurious allegations and illegally try judges in the pages of newspapers.

“It raises wrong and unjustified public perception of the justice system, and impugns on public confidence in justice and governance,” a statement by the spokesman for LEDAP, Chino Obiagwu, read.

10TH OCTOBER 2016: PRESS RELEASE ON THE WORLD DAY AGAINST THE DEATH PENALTY

 

Lagos, Monday October 10 2016:

As the world today marks UN Day Against the use of Death Penalty, Legal Defence and Assistance Project  (LEDAP) calls on the Nigerian government to take urgent steps to protect her citizens facing the death penalty in foreign countries especially in south east Asia.

It is estimated that nearly 650 Nigerians may be on death row or facing capital charges in China,  Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietman, most of them for drug offences. More than 10 Nigerians have been executed in the last one year despite international condemnation of their possible faulty trials.

LEDAP is concerned that the arrests, interogations and trials of these Nigerians usually violated basic norms of fair hearing. Most of them had no interpreters during questioning upon arrest and even during trials.

The law of nations require that where a foreigner is arrested for any offence, the consulate or embassy of such person must be notified and the necessary consular services provided to the suspect, especially legal services and interpreters. In most of the cases of Nigerians arrested and tried in south east Asia, these rules are not complied with. As a result, there are high liklihood that their trials, convictions and sentences violate basic principles of fair trial.

The world day against the use of the death penalty is to remind governments and people of the world of the danger of death sentence for any offence. Not only that there is very high risk of convicting and killing an innocent person, the death penalty is widely used against the poor and vulnerable groups including minorities.

LEDAP calls on Nigeria to enter into diplomatic negotiations with countries of the south east Asia and Saudi Arabia to secure prison transfers of all Nigerians currently convicted and sentenced to death in those countries, and to ensure that consulate services are provided in future to any Nigerian arrested and charged in any foreign country.

LEDAP also urges the Nigerian National Assembly to adopt laws to abolish the use of death sentence as punishment for any crime. LEDAP has recorded exenoration of nearly a third of over 55 cases of death row prisoners it handled on appeal in the last 5 years, indicating a very high risk of wrongful convictions in the country. There is no justification to continue to use the death penalty in Nigeria in those circumstances.

Chino Obiagwu
National Coordinator LEDAP

 

 

 

 

PRESS RELEASE: EXECUTION OF NIGERIANS IN INDONESIA: LEDAP CALLS ON THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS TO BE MORE PROACTIVE

 

 

Release date: 2 August 2016

Press Statement

LEDAP CALLS ON MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS TO BE MORE PROACTIVE.

 

The Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) condemns the recent executions of Nigerians by the Indonesian government despite numerous pleas for clemency and calls on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to be more proactive.

A total of 14people (8 Nigerians) were scheduled for execution on Friday 29 July 2016. Continue reading “PRESS RELEASE: EXECUTION OF NIGERIANS IN INDONESIA: LEDAP CALLS ON THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS TO BE MORE PROACTIVE”

Nigerian-Drug-Trafficker-Death

PRESS RELEASE: IMMMINENT EXECUTION OF NIGERIANS: LEDAP CALLS ON THE NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT TO INTERVENE

Release date: 28 July 2016

PRESS RELEASE.

IMMMINENT EXECUTION OF NIGERIANS:  LEDAP CALLS ON THE NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT TO INTERVENE

LEDAP calls on the Nigerian Government to urgently intervene in the imminent executions of some Nigerians in Indonesia. The office of the Attorney General Muhammad Prasetyo has announced that 14 drug convicts will be executed soon. Continue reading “PRESS RELEASE: IMMMINENT EXECUTION OF NIGERIANS: LEDAP CALLS ON THE NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT TO INTERVENE”