Angry judge says SSS’ conduct “disgrace to democracy”, threatens to vacate office
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Friday berated the Department of State Security (DSS) for flouting an order of the court to remand a defendant in prison.
Mr. Dimgba had ordered that a retired Air Commodore, Umar Mohammed, who was arraigned before him on Thursday, be remanded in Kuje Prison pending the hearing of his bail application.
But the SSS failed to produce him in court on Friday while his counsel argued his bail application.
Mr. Dimgba said he took strong exception to the service’s disregard of the court’s order by keeping the defendant in its custody, describing it as an embarrassment to democracy.
“I take a strong exception to this type of behaviour; when the court orders that someone be kept in prison custody, the person ought to be kept in prison and not in the office.
“If the people at the DSS want to become judge and do their job as well, I am ready to vacate my office for them, but as long as I am still here, I take an exception to them flouting the orders of the court.
“Once processes have been filed in court, it is no longer in their hands and the order of the court must be obeyed,’’ Mr. Dimgba said.
He asked the prosecuting counsel, E.A Orji, to convey the grievances of the court to the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice.
The judge adjourned ruling on the bail application until 2 p.m.
Counsel to Mr. Mohammed, Hassan Liman, had told the court that the SSS whisked Mr. Mohammed away immediately after the court proceedings ended on Thursday.
But the prosecuting counsel explained that the defendant was taken to the SSS office for some documentation.
Mr. Mohammed is charged with money laundering, possession of fire arms and violation of provision of Official Secret Act.
The defendant is a retired Air Force officer and was a member of the presidential team investigating the arms deal in the country.