Denials, Outrage Trail Invasion of Home of Supreme Court Justice Odili, AGF Orders Probe
Nigerians have continued to condemn the alleged invasion of the Abuja home of Supreme Court Justice Mary Odili on Friday, and the alleged culprits in the act have continued to deny involvement.
The office of the attorney-general of the federation has said itdid not order the invasion, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has denied involvement. The Nigeria Police have so far kept mute.
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) on Saturday reacted to the invasion and condemned it.
NBA president, Olumide Akpata, described it as “a part of an orchestrated affront on the judiciary, designed to intimidate and ridicule the judiciary.”
Akpata said the invasion was reminiscent of how homes of seven judges were invaded by operatives of the Department of State Services in 2016, adding that the NBA “will no longer allow this to continue.”
In a press release titled, ‘Statement of the NBA on the raid of Justice Mary Odili’s residence by security operatives,’ Akpata said, “In case the law enforcement agencies have not learnt their lessons, events like this do nothing but erode the independence of the 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 operate a democracy with an independent judiciary.”
However, Akpata said he had spoken with the harassed Justice and “I am happy to report that she is alive and well.”
He vowed that the NBA would get to the root of the matter.
“We will be convening an emergency meeting of the NBA National Executive Committee solely to discuss the issue and take a definitive stand on behalf of the NBA.
“I will lead a delegation to the honourable Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, and the relevant heads of security agencies to seek further clarification on the circumstances of this incident.”
Human rights activist, Femi Falana, SAN, also said in a statement that the NBA should fish out lawyers who approached an Abuja Chief Magistrate, Emmanuel Iyanna, to obtain the search warrant leading to the invasion of Justice Odili’s home.
The magistrate had on Friday revoked the search warrant, saying the applicants deceived the court to obtain it.
Falana said, “The lawyers that are indicted should be dragged to the Legal Practitioners’ Disciplinary Committee for sanctions.”
Another senior lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, said, “I am happy that the chief magistrate, who initially gave the warrant, revoked it immediately after realising that he was misled.
“We are gradually moving towards the precipice of becoming a Banana Republic; no country in the world will you go and see security operatives burgle or storm the house of a Justice of the Supreme Court in that manner; it is a political move and also a plan to embarrass the judiciary.”
On its part, the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), in a statement on Saturday by its national publicity secretary, Ken Robinson, described the invasion as one attack too many on “persons of South-South extraction,” noting that the immediate-past Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen (retd.), who is from Cross River State, was in January 2019 subjected to the similar treatment, that culminated in his leaving office prematurely ahead of the last general elections.
“The raid, in the dusk hours of last Friday, is not only crude and primitive but barbaric and dictatorial. It is another attempt by agents of the (the President, Major General Muhammadu) Buhari administration to further intimidate and humiliate the nation’s judiciary,” PANDEF said.
It demanded that those behind the invasion be fished out and punished.
Meanwhile, the attorney-general of the federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, SAN, in a statement on Saturday by his special assistant on media and public relations, Dr Umar Gwandu, denied that he ordered the operation.
The statement quoted him as ordering a probe into the circumstances surrounding the raid of the Justice’s home.
“It is important to set the record straight that as the Chief Law Officer of the federation, Malami, will not stop low to be associated with an inelegant and nasty court process on the strength of which the purported search warrant was procured.
“The media reports on the issue depict too untidy process that could never emanate from the Office of the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice,” Gwandu’s statement read in part.
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