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Key issues in Judiciary, NDLEA, NCoS in 2022

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AS the year draws to a close,  here are the highlights of some key issues in the judiciary and some paramilitary organisations  – National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and Nigerian Correctional Service (NCos) in the outgoing year.

The Judiciary in 2022

For most of the year, the Judiciary was at the forefront with various news that elicited reactions from the Public.

Chief Justice Tanko Mohammed’s resignation

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Tanko Muhammad, resigned as Chief Justice of Nigeria on June 19.

Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad
Former CJN, Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad

This came after a report that some of his colleagues accused Muhammed of diverting budgetary allocation of the Judiciary.

A few days after the reports, Justice Mohammed, 68, resigned on June 27, citing ill health, about 18 months before his retirement in 2023.

Buhari asks Senate to confirm Justice Ariwoola as substantive CJN

On July 26, 2022, President Buhari asked the Senate to confirm Justice Kayode Ariwoola, the next most senior Justice of the Supreme Court, as the substantive CJN.

The President later swore in Ariwoola as the substantive CJN in October.

Chief Justice of Nigeria, Kayode Ariwoola
Chief Justice of Nigeria, Kayode Ariwoola
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The swearing-in occurred a day after Buhari conferred the national honour of Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON).

A judge in Akwa Ibom sends a lawyer to jail

In July, The ICIR reported that the Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State Justice Ekaette Obot sent a lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, to jail for one month from the courtroom.

Justice Obot also ordered the arrest of a Premium Times reporter Saviour Imukudo, who was in the court to cover Effiong’s case.

Effiong was sent to prison after he objected to the presence of two armed police operatives in the courtroom.

Human Rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong
Human Rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong

Effiong was released on August 26 from Uyo prison after spending 30 days for alleged contempt of court.

Court orders arrest, detention of Chief of Army Staff, Police IG and EFCC boss

On December 1, a High Court in Minna, Niger State, issued a warrant of arrest for the Chief Of Army Staff (COAS) Farouk Yahaya over alleged contempt of court.

On November 8, a Federal Capital Territory High Court in Maitama also sentenced the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Abdulrasheed Bawa, to jail over contempt.

EFCC Chair, Abdulrasheed Bawa
EFCC Chair, Abdulrasheed Bawa
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Justice Chizoba Oji, in a ruling, said the EFCC failed to comply with an earlier court order.

However, on November 10, the judge vacated the committal order made against Bawa.

Similarly, on November 29, another Federal High Court in Abuja sentenced the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, to three months imprisonment for defying a 2011 court order.

A former police officer, Patrick Okoli, who was forcefully retired from the Nigeria Police Force, filed the suit to reverse the action.

Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon made the committal order due to the IGP’s refusal to comply with an earlier court order in 2011.

However, in December, the court set aside its order committing the IGP to three-month imprisonment for contempt.

Student arraigned for ‘insulting’ Aisha Buhari on Twitter

In November, a student of the Federal University, Dutse Jigawa, Aminu Mohammed, was sent to the Suleja Correctional Centre, Niger State, for tweeting about the wife of the President, Aisha Buhari.

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The student was arraigned at the FCT High Court No. 14 in Abuja for cyberstalking after he was picked up from his school and taken straight to the Presidential Villa, where he was allegedly brutalised, beaten, maltreated and humiliated by the police suspected to be men belonging to the Department of State Services. 

He was accused of tweeting in the Hausa language that the First Lady was feeding fat on the poor people’s money.

He was denied bail despite pleading not guilty to the charges filed against him but was later released.

Nnamdi Kanu demands N20bn damages for alleged defamation

On November 22the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, wrote to the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami, demanding N20bn damages for alleged defamation.

This was barely four days after the initial N20 billion suit filed by Kanu against Malami was discontinued.

IPOB leader’s lawyer Aloy Ejimakor said Malami’s claim that Kanu jumped bail despite a court order clearing him was libellous.

The IPOB leader has been in the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS) since June 2021. 

The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal discharged and acquitted Kanu.

Malami, when reacting to the judgement, said Kanu was discharged but not acquitted.

The FG subsequently filed an application seeking to stay the execution of the appellate court’s judgment, and the court granted the request.

A Federal High Court in Umuahia, Abia state, on October 26 had ordered the Federal Government to return the IPOB leader to Kenya and pay him N500 million as damages for his illegal abduction and violation of his fundamental human rights.

Owerri magistrate’s court set ablaze

Hoodlums in December set Owerri magistrate’s court ablaze.

The development came barely 24 hours after hoodlums burned the Orlu High Court.

The perpetrators reportedly came with explosives, targeting a particular section of the roof of the magistrate court.

Nigeria correctional service (NCoS) in 2022

Kuje Prison attack

On July 5, 2022, gunmen attacked the Kuje Prison facility and freed hundreds of inmates, including suspected Boko Haram members.

President Buhari expressed concern over the incident and queried why gunmen could successfully “attack a security installation and get away with it”.

The attack generated widespread condemnation.

The NCoS said 879 inmates escaped from the Kuje Prison in a statement concerning the attack.

The NCoS Spokesperson Umar Abubakar said five persons, including an officer of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and four inmates, died during the attack.

The Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), a breakaway group of the Boko Haram terrorist group, claimed responsibility for the attack.

3,167 condemned prisoners on death row in Nigeria

In December, the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCoS) said there are 3,167 condemned prisoners on death row in Nigeria.

The number comprises 3,105 males and 62 females, according to 

Abubakar added that the correctional centres currently have 19,140 male and 339 female convicts.

NDLEA in 2022

NDLEA declares Abba Kyari wanted

On February 14, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) declared the then-suspended head of the Police Intelligence Response Team (IRT), Abba Kyari, wanted over alleged drug offences.

Abba Kyari
Abba Kyari

In what appeared to be the biggest breaking news of that month, the Spokesperson for the NDLEA, Femi Babafemi, in a press conference, said its investigation revealed that Kyari was a member of an international drug syndicate. 

He also accused Kyari of being wanted for pushing illicit drugs.

Kyari has been in and out of the court since then.

NDLEA arrested 23,907 traffickers, seized drugs worth over N450 billion within 22 months

The NDLEA said it arrested 23,907 traffickers and seized drugs worth over N450 billion within 22 months.

According to the Agency, the arrest and seizure took place between January 2021 to October 2022

The NDLEA chairman Mohammed Buba Marwa disclosed details of the Agency’s operations in Abuja on Tuesday, December 20.

 891 women arrested for drug trafficking and related offences in 2022

From January to October 2022, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) arrested 891 women for drug trafficking and associated crimes.

Sa'adatu Abdulahi
Sa’adatu Abdulahi

This number, although negligible, when compared to the 11,710 males arrested within the same period, raised some concerns.

This year, a pregnant woman was among those arrested.

Earlier, a nursing mother was arrested when operatives of the Agency in FCT on Saturday, October 15, stormed a village known as Chukuku, and a nursing mother in charge, Sa’adatu Abdullahi, 35, was arrested.

In November 2022, NDLEA arrested a 56-year-old widow and mother of four, Ajisegiri Kehinde Sidika.

Also, in July 2022, a suspected drug trafficker, Opoola Mujidat, was arrested by the NDLEA at the MMIA, Ikeja, Lagos.

Expert opinion on the issue of women in drug trafficking

A senior lecturer in the Social Work department, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Lagos (UNILAG), Fatai Adeshina Badru, in a chat with The ICIR, said the general urge to survive significantly affects women going into drug trafficking.

According to him, everybody wants to survive, but the means to achieve success is dynamic; some choose to do it legally, while some go the way of crime.

“They (women) are also contesting for Senators; they also want to live in Banana Island, they want to drive good cars and live well, this might trigger the urge to go into crime.

“Some are also lazy, they don’t want to work but want to eat and live big, so if an individual wants to get to that pinnacle, peer influence, social media influence, and others also play a part,” he stated. 

He also blamed the low minimum wage for the increase in the high rate of women in drug trafficking.

In her contribution, the Lead Psychologist at The Sunshine Series, Aisha Bubah, said Nigeria is facing many challenges, which might have contributed to increasing the number of women in drug trafficking in Nigeria.

“For example, women and children are mostly the large victims of insecurity, conflict and we have quite a number of internally displaced women in Nigeria due to the insecurity in the North-East and some other parts of the country, and this leaves women often time as the breadwinners of the family, women who are displaced are affected by this conflict there are also at the socioeconomic disadvantage in the society these may now push them towards the likelihood of activities like drug trafficking to make ends meet,” she said.

She added that another factor is the high rate of sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls in our communities, which exposes them to high levels of stigma and discrimination. This can also lead to significant social and economic disadvantages.

According to Bubah, one of the implications that can emerge from women getting involved in drug trafficking is gender biases and stereotypes.

“You know women are still struggling to occupy spaces in our political spaces in work spaces, women are still fighting for equal rights, equal access to opportunities and with these, there are still some gender bias stereotypes that women can not hold a leadership position, women cannot function in a leadership role, so if we also have the biases that start stemming as a result of the engagement of women in drug trafficking, it can negatively impact that image,” she stated.

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A reporter with the ICIR
A Journalist with a niche for quality and a promoter of good governance

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