ABUJA, Nov 4 (Pakistan Point News - APP - 04th Nov, 2016 ) : Nigeria's National Judicial Council watchdog has asked a group of judges facing corruption investigations to step down pending resolution of their cases. At least seven judges were arrested last month by the Department of State Service (DSS) accused of taking bribes, triggering an outcry from the bar association and rights groups who described the raids as unprecedented. In all 15 judges are under investigation.
In a statement at the end of a two-day meeting in Abuja on Thursday, the NJC said it had decided that judges "shall not be standing trial for alleged corruption-related offences and be performing judicial functions at the same time." "Judicial officials who are being investigated for alleged high-profile criminal offences (must) not perform judicial functions until their cases are concluded," added the body, headed by Chief Justice Mahmud Mohammed. The NJC, which aims to ensure the independence of the judiciary and protect it from government control, also set up a three-member transparency and anti-corruption committee to handle petitions and graft accusations against the judges. Although the judges have since been released on bail, they are yet to be charged.