…Says it’s Impunity Taken Too Far …Warns Judiciary Cannot Be Ridiculed, Chastised Into Silence …Invasion Affront on Judiciary, Undermines Country’s Democracy…NBA …We’ve Arrested the Culprits…IG In a rare weighty response, the Supreme Court says last Friday’s invasion of the Abuja home of Justice Mary Peter Odili by security operatives, was conceived to kill her, describing
…Says it’s Impunity Taken Too Far
…Warns Judiciary Cannot Be Ridiculed, Chastised Into Silence
…Invasion Affront on Judiciary, Undermines Country’s Democracy…NBA
…We’ve Arrested the Culprits…IG
In a rare weighty response, the Supreme Court says last Friday’s invasion of the Abuja home of Justice Mary Peter Odili by security operatives, was conceived to kill her, describing it as impunity taken too far. This is coming on the backdrop of revelation by the Inspector General of Police, Mr Alkali Baba that the culprits have been arrested.
In its first reaction to the ugly incident, the apex court, in a statement on Tuesday by its Director of Press and Information, Dr Akande Festus, said that the attack was uncivilised and a shameful show of primitive force on an innocent judicial officer.
“We are alarmed by the news of the unwarranted and despicable raid on the official residence of one of our senior justices in the Supreme Court, Hon. Justice Mary Peter Odili, on Friday 29” October, 2021, in a Gestapo manner.
“The attack unfortunately depicted a gory picture of war by some armed persons suspected to be security operatives representing different agencies of government who seemed to have come to kill and maim their target under the guise of undertaking a search whose warrant was questionable and baseless.
“We are deeply saddened and taken aback by this uncivilised and shameful show of force on an innocent judicial officer that has spent several years of her productive life serving the country she calls her own.
“This incident brought back, rather painfully, the ugly memory of the October 2016 midnight invasion of the homes of our respected justices with no satisfactory explanations as to the true motive behind such brazen assault on our collective sensibility.
“We wish to make it abundantly clear that the Nigerian Judiciary is the third arm of the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and should be respected and treated as such.
“We have had a full dosage of this fusillade of unwarranted and unprovoked attacks on our judicial officers, and even our facilities across the country, and we say, enough is enough.
“The judiciary should never be construed by any individual or institution of government as the arm of government that must always be chastised and ridiculed into silence because of our conservative disposition.
“Though there have emerged discordant tunes from the various security agencies that allegedly participated in the dastardly act, we are not lying low on this dehumanizing treatment meted out to one of our own.
“We have commenced a full-scale independent investigation to unravel the true masquerades behind the mystery as well as the real motives behind the whole incident,” the spokesperson of the apex court said.
He equally called on the Inspector General of Police to rise up to the occasion by carrying out a discreet investigation and to make his findings known to the Nigerian public with a view to bringing the perpetrators to justice as quickly as possible.
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), at the weekend also stridently condemned the siege laid by security operatives to Justice Odili’s Abuja home.
In a statement by its President, Mr Olumide Akpata, the NBA described the act as an “affront on the Judiciary, designed to intimidate and ridicule the judiciary”.
He said the association would hold an emergency meeting of its National Executive Committee (NEC) on the matter.
“To be clear, last night’s event is an affront on the Judiciary and grossly undermines the democracy that we profess to practise.
“In line with the aims and objectives of the NBA which include the protection and defence of the independence of the Judiciary and the rule of law in Nigeria, we will be convening an emergency meeting of the NBA National Executive Committee solely to discuss this issue and take a definitive stand on behalf of the NBA,” Mr Akpata said.
The NBA president also said he would lead a delegation to meet with the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, and the heads of the various security agencies.
This, he said, would be done, “to seek further clarification on the circumstances of this incident.”
‘Those responsible must be brought to book’
He added that the NBA would “ensure that all those responsible for this unfortunate incident are brought to book.”
“We must do all that is required to safeguard the independence of our judiciary and indeed protect our hard-won democracy,” he added.
Both the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the State Security Service (SSS), initially reported to have led the invasion of the judge’s home, have denied any involvement in the act.
The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, who was indicated in court documents as the applicant who obtained the search warrant executed at Mrs Odili’s home on Friday, has also distanced himself from the event.
Mr Malami pointed out in his statement on Saturday that some “incongruities” in the court documents filed at the Chief Magistrate’s Court in Wuse Zone 6, Abuja, suggested that the documents could have emanated from his office.
Noting that a police officer appeared to have signed the document, Mr Malami called on “relevant authorities” to intensify investigations into the matter and prosecute anyone found to be culpable.
With Mr Malami’s denial on Saturday, the NBA president said this “suggests the inference that the residence of the second most senior judicial officer in Nigeria was raided by rogue security agencies”.
“The grave implications of this possibility leave a lot to be desired,” Mr Akpata said, as he recalled similar occurrence in 2016 when SSS operatives invaded the homes of many judges including two of the Supreme Court, and others of the Federal High Court.
“When viewed in the context of a similar raid on the premises of Supreme Court Justices in 2016, the rationale of which was never fully explained or indeed justified, the NBA interprets last night’s incident as a part of an orchestrated affront on the judiciary, designed to intimidate and ridicule the judiciary.
“The NBA will no longer allow this to continue.”
He expressed regrets that the law enforcement agencies had not learnt their lessons, adding that “events like this do nothing but erode the independence of sacred democratic institutions like the Judiciary, undermine the rule of law in Nigeria, and set the country back in the quest to instill confidence in citizens of Nigeria, Nigerian businesses, and foreign investors that Nigeria operates a democracy with an independent judiciary.”
Mr Akpata also said he had spoken with Mrs Odili, the wife of a former governor of Rivers State, Peter Odili, and second most senior Justice of the Supreme Court, and assured she was alive and well.
“I have spoken with My Lord, Peter-Odili JSC and I am happy to report that she is alive and well,” he said.
The Inspector General of Police, Alkali Usman Baba on Tuesday confirmed that some operatives who laid siege to the Abuja residence of Supreme Court Justice Mary Odili have been arrested.
The police boss neither gave the number of those arrested nor their organisations.
But he said the circumstances surrounding the incident were being investigated.
Following public outcry, Usman on Monday disclosed that an investigation into the incident had commenced. He assured Nigerians that the perpetrators would be fished out and brought to justice.
Yesterday, the IG gave an update on the matter during a two-day capacity-building workshop for security operatives in Lagos and Ogun states in Lagos.
He said: “I have taken my time not to speak quickly on this issue to ensure that when I speak, I am able to give Nigerians information on what transpired or what has been done.
“To the best of my knowledge, we have been able to arrest the perpetrators and we are investigating the circumstances surrounding the invasion or siege to the judge’s residence.”