Rivers Governor Nyesom Wike said the statement released by the State Security Service detailing how operatives found a huge amount of money during nationwide raids on homes of judges between Friday and Saturday was “concocted” to justify an “unconstitutional assault on the nation’s judiciary.”
“It is really unfortunate that SSS would concoct a false defence that $2 million —that is N900 million— was found in the house of the judge,” Mr. Wike said, describing it as “flimsy excuses”.
Mr. Wike made the remark when he met with the management and players of Rivers United Football Club in Port-Harcourt on Saturday night, hours after a standoff involving him and authorities nearly turned fatal.
Mr. Wike said he prevented the SSS from arresting the judge because they could kill him and use that as a pretext to say the state was not safe and to prepare grounds for declaration of a state of emergency.
“If they had abducted the judge, they may go ahead to kill the judge and they will say that Rivers State is insecure,” Mr. Wike said.
Mr. Wike said the SSS was wrong to seek arrest of a serving judge in such a manner, saying there exist legal procedures for checking and prosecuting errant jurists or other public officers.
“In the police, erring and corrupt policemen are first given orderly room trial, sacked and then appropriately prosecuted,” Mr. Wike said. “For judicial officers, the SSS has no role.
“I am not in support of any judicial support being involved in corruption,” but “this impunity must stop.”
The name of the judge in whose home the large sum of money was allegedly found has not been officially released. But sources identified him as Abdullahi Liman of the Port-Harcourt Division of the Federal High Court.
Mr. Wike said he remained unfazed in the face of the “blackmail” and will continue to protect the people of his state, notwithstanding the price.
“The way things are going nobody should relax. Freedom comes with sacrifice. Independence comes with sacrifice. Liberty comes with sacrifice.
“I was there with our state and National Assembly members, Former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Austin Opara; the PDP Chairman, Felix Obuah; and some caretaker chairmen. When they said I was with thugs I just laughed,” Mr. Wike said.
The nationwide crackdown on the judges from high to appellate courts attracted widespread condemnation of the SSS, with eminent citizens and professional groups calling on President Buhari to immediately order the release of the judges.
The SSS could not be reached for comment for this story.