By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor & Rosemary Onuoha
Abuja—Exactly one week after the Department of State Service, DSS, arrested seven judges on suspicion of corrupt practices, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, revealed last night, that it was also probing no fewer than eight others for graft-related offences.
Also being questioned by the agency are two court registrars, following petitions filed against them by aggrieved litigants over the conduct of the judges.
This comes as the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, yesterday, denied insinuations of a rift between him and the EFCC.
Malami told Vanguard in an interview that his office was working closely with the EFCC and other anti-graft agencies to drive the agenda to rid the country of corrupt practices.
“Let it be known by all Nigerians at home and abroad that there is no division among the agencies of government – OHAGF, DSS, EFCC, ICPC and the NPF, in the fight against graft,” Malami said.
However, the anti-graft agency refused to release the names of the suspects under investigation.
The commission made the revelation in a statement signed by its Head of Media and Publicity, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, noting that the probe of the eight suspects had nothing to do with the one being conducted by the DSS.
According to Uwujaren, only one of the seven judges being probed by the DSS featured on the list of those the commission is handling and that the suspects had made useful statements to the agency.
“Some of the suspects who have been invited have made useful statements that have been of great assistance to the investigations.
“In due course, those who have cases to answer would be arrested and charged to court.
“Investigation into the petitions against the judges had reached advanced stage when one of the judges got a Federal High Court order to stop further probe by the commission.
“EFCC is still trying to vacate that order for the investigation to proceed unfettered,” Uwujaren said.
The anti-graft agency was responding to a newspaper report that the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, bypassed the EFCC and sent the petition against the judges to the DSS as a result of a simmering feud between his office and the commission.
But the commission denied any rift with the office of the Attorney General of the Federation.
It said: “Indeed, the commission, along with the SSS, ICPC, Police and the office of the AGF, is a member of a technical committee that meets at the highest level of government to collaborate and coordinate strategies against corruption.
“However, Nigerians deserve to know that the nature of professional investigation of financial crimes is highly discrete and not given to theatre.
“The subject usually does not know the commission is amassing evidences against him or her for several months before the strike. Therefore, the notion that a petition is submitted today and the next things that follow are instant arrests, prosecution and conviction, is highly misleading.”