Activists are accusing Nigeria’s government of intimidating and harassing the judiciary after several senior judges were detained in weekend sting operations.
Nigeria’s intelligence services announced more than $800,000 had been seized in raids targeting judges from the country’s high courts. The State Security Service said it had been monitoring the judges’ “expensive and luxurious lifestyle” amid complaints they had accepted bribes.
It did not specify how many judges were in custody.
Civil society groups quickly cried foul. The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, an organization that previously has accused judges and lawyers of abetting corrupt officials, said it was “seriously concerned” about the arrests and called on all judges to be released immediately.
The arrests “served to undermine the independence of the judiciary in Nigeria, and reinforce the practices under successive governments of undue political interference in the judiciary,” the group said.
In a statement Sunday, the office of President Muhammadu Buhari said all arrests and searches were carried out according to the law in a bid to root out corruption.
“The recent surgical operation against some judicial officers is specifically targeted at corruption and not at the judiciary as an institution,” the statement said.
Buhari, a former military dictator, won election in 2015 while promising to tackle corruption, which he has blamed for the deaths of thousands in the ongoing fight against the extremist group Boko Haram.
But the president has been accused of targeting his political enemies while ignoring corruption allegations against people in his own administration
Nigeria: Boko Haram leader exposes rest Chibok girls whereabouts
One of the arrested Boko Haram leaders and kidnappers of the Chibok schoolgirls, Mallam Mayinta Modu, alias Abor has revealed that each of them received N60,000 as ransom before they freed one batch of the abducted girls.
Modu, who hails from Bama Local Government Area, Borno State had confessed to being one of the Boko Haram Commanders that coordinated and led the kidnapping of the Chibok schoolgirls in 2014, including several attacks on Bama, Gwoza and Mubi towns in Borno and Adamawa states.
This was following the arrest of 22 suspected Boko Haram members who participated in the kidnapping of the girls.
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They were paraded at the Borno Police Command, Wednesday, by Deputy Commissioner-led Intelligence Response Team, IRT, of the IGP, Ibrahim Idris.Modu revealed that one Mallam Chingori, is in custody of the remaining Chibok girls at Gulumba village of Bama Council Area following the recent bombardment of the forest by troops.
Upon interrogation, he said: “I cannot ascertain the number of people I slaughtered or killed before my arrest. All I can say is that as a member of the sect and with the roles I played in the course of our fighting against infidels, government and security agencies, I was promoted as one of the sub-commanders.
“I actively participated and coordinated the kidnapping of over 200 Chibok schoolgirls in April, 2014.
“After we abducted the girls, we separated them and put them in different locations in Sambisa Forest under the care of our top commanders.
“The name of my top Commander is Mallam Chingori. He kept some of the girls in his custody in Sambisa hideout before relocating to Gulumba village of Bama Council Area following the recent bombardment of the forest by troops.
“At a point, when we released some of the girls, we were given N60,000 each for escorting the girls to one undisclosed location, before we went back to base, Sambisa.
“I may not know whether our Commander who gave us the ransom money also took his share of the money; all I can say is that we were many that collected such amount.
“As it is, the remaining girls are in the custody of our top Commander (Chingori) who later relocated from Sambisa to Gulumba village of Bama town.”
Modu could, however, not state who paid the ransom, but admitted that some of the girls were still in the custody of the sect in different locations in the forest.
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Egypt: Human rights activists criticises new social media law
Human rights activists have criticised the adoption of a new law that gives the state powers to block social media accounts and penalise journalists held to be publishing fake news.
Under the law passed on Monday, social media accounts and blogs with more than 5,000 followers on sites such as Twitter and Facebook will be treated as media outlets, which makes them subject to prosecution for publishing false news or incitement to break the law.
The Supreme Council for the Administration of the Media, headed by an official appointed by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, will supervise the law and take action against violations.
The bill prohibits the establishment of websites without obtaining a license from the Supreme Council and allows it to suspend or block existing websites, or impose fines on editors.
The law, which takes effect after it is ratified by Sisi, also states that journalists can only film in places that are not prohibited, but does not explain further.
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