Just like the Department of State Services (DSS) arrested some judges for alleged corruption last Friday, a cursory check of possible instances shows that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) – the closest thing to Nigeria’s DSS – has a history of acting in like manner on judges.
The DSS raided the homes of some judges across country, claiming it recovered huge wads from them. The secret police arrested some of them.
Some of the judges the DSS arrested are Adeniyi Ademola and Nnamdi Dimgba (federal high court), and Slyvester Ngwuta and John Okoro (supreme court).
Ademola is the judge handling the trial of Sambo Dasuki, former national security adviser (NSA), who is being prosecuted by the DSS for alleged illegal possession of firearms and money laundering.
The judge has been critical of the DSS owing its refusal to release Dasuki after he had granted him bail.
Dimgba has also criticised the DSS for its high-handedness.
The DSS claims it is on a mission to sanitise the judiciary.
A debate now rages over the propriety of their action.
But here are three instances from the world’s “greatest democracy”.
On January 31, 2013, the FBI arrested nine judges for “conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, perjury, making false statements to the FBI, and aiding and abetting”.
One of the judges, Willie Singletary, was seen in a video meeting with a motorcycle club called the Philadelphia First State Road Rattlers, saying: “There’s going to be a basket going around because I’m running for Traffic Court judge, right, and I need some money. I got some stuff that I got to do, but if you all can give me $20 you’re going to need me in Traffic Court. Am I right about that? … Now you all want me to get there, you’re all going to need my hook-up, right?”
Some of the accused judges — who were on the bench between 2008 and 2011 — are William Hird and Michael Sullivan.
They faced hundreds of years in prison.
On November 4, 2015, the agency arrested a superior North Carolina court judge for bribery and corruption.
The judge, Arnold Jones II allegedly attempted to bribe an FBI agent for information on what he described as a “family matter.” He faced about 37 years in jail.
Prosecutors said he approached the unidentified FBI officer in October 2015, and the two subsequently met in Goldsboro to exchange $100 for a disk supposedly containing the text messages.
Jones initially offered to give the officer “a couple cases of beer” for his help but later agreed to $100 in cash.
Also, on May 30, 2014, it arrested a superior Puerto Rico court judge for bribery.
Manuel Acevedo Hernandez, the judge, was accused of accepting bribes to pervert the cause of justice in a fatal drunk-driving case. He was detained at his home after the FBI concluded its investigation.
The 62-year-old was detained at his home in the northwestern coastal town of Aguadilla.
The indictment also charges that the judge agreed to acquit Lutgardo Acevedo Lopez, a certified public accountant, in exchange for help in being promoted to appellate judge and to find employment for two of relatives.
“In my 35 years of experience, I’ve never seen anything like this,” US Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodriguez said at the time.
The judge pleaded not guilty and received a $50,000 bail.