Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari has defended a recent raid targeting several judges suspected of corruption. The country's security agency said it had seized $800,000 (£645,200) in cash during raids at the houses of three judges at the weekend [7-9th October].

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) accused authorities of conducting a "gestapo-like" operation and called for the release of those arrested. Buhari, however, claimed the operation was a necessary "surgical operation".

"In a robust democracy such as ours, there is bound to be a plurality of opinions on any given issue, but there is a convergence of views that the country has a corruption problem that needs to be corrected," a statement by Buhari's spokesperson Garba Shehu said.

The statement also claimed some media reports depicted the raids as a confrontation between "the executive and judicial arms of government."

"The Presidency has received assurances from the DSS [Department of Security Service] that all due processes of the law, including the possession of search and arrest warrants were obtained before the searches. To suggest that the government is acting outside the law in a dictatorial manner is to breach the interest of the state."

Buhari, who took office in May 2015, vowed to tackle corruption and recover funds he alleged had been stolen during previous administrations.

The leader has sought the help of several countries, including the UK, the US and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), to locate and repatriate embezzled Nigerian funds reinvested outside the African nation.

In an exclusive report by IBTimes UK, members of Security in Africa and Potent Communications warned that Nigerian stolen funds repatriated to the African nation risk being embezzled again, making corruption a vicious circle difficult to break.

In September, the UK and Nigeria signed an agreement on returning stolen assets. Both parties committed to ensuring "that returned assets are not at risk of being misappropriated again."

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Nigeria corruption
Workers carrying banners march in support of anti-corruption drive aimed at the government during a rally in Abuja on September 10 2015. AFP/Getty Images