HOW JUDGES TOOK BRIBE FROM WIKE – SSS
The ongoing crackdown on senior judges across the country will not end without the arrest of a judge attached to the Port Harcourt Division of the Federal High Court.
Sources at the State Security Services (SSS), said Mohammed Liman allegedly took bribes from Governor Nyesom Wike to give favourable judgment to the Ahmed Makarfi-led faction of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The sources also accused the judge of habitually crossing Nigerian borders to allegedly receive bribes from litigants.
In a nationwide operation, scores of SSS operatives descended on the homes of senior judges between late Friday and Saturday, arresting seven of them after searching their residences.
The development sparked divergent reactions across the country, with some Nigerians and professional bodies condemning the raids.
Most of the critics said the raids were reminiscent of the dark military era which Nigerians assumed had ended with the return of democracy in 1999.
But an undaunted SSS in a statement Saturday said the nocturnal operation yielded recoveries of huge sums of money denominated in different currencies, including the U.S. dollars, euros and British pounds.
On Sunday evening, a top SSS official told PREMIUM TIMES that operatives were still tracking Mr. Liman and would ensure his arrest in the coming days after the initial attempt was thwarted by Mr. Wike.
Mr. Liman is among eight other judges being investigated apart from the seven arrested in the Friday night raids.
The source said Mr. Liman allegedly took bribes to subvert justice in the leadership tussle within the PDP which has left the party factionalised for several months.
Mr. Liman’s July ruling authenticated the Ahmed Makarfi faction of the PDP which had been deemed illegal by Justice Okon Abang.
The PDP crisis culminated in another botched convention in August, although the opposing parties are currently working to end the quagmire.
“We received a petition that he (Mr. Liman) received bribes to give his ruling and our investigations confirmed it,” a top SSS official told reporters
The source added that Mr. Liman is “also a distributor” who receives bribes on behalf of other judges and helps distribute it.
“He travels across the border to Ghana, Republic of Benin and other West African countries to meet lawyers in hotels to take bribes for himself and his colleagues on the bench,” he said.
The source also said the amount involved in Mr. Liman’s botched arrest on Saturday morning was actually $2.5 million, and gave more explanation as to why operatives’ failed to arrest the judge or get the money.
“The vehicle that was used to cart away the $2million was faster than our men’s own,” the source said. “They just couldn’t catch up with them at such a high speed. It’s like chasing a 7-cylinder vehicle with a 3-cylinder.”
“We will arrest him in coming days; we have no doubt about this as we have enough evidence to nail him in court. By bringing Governor Wike in, he has worsened his own case.”