Justice Mary Odili
By Innocent Anaba, Henry Ojelu & Onozure Dania
As the storm raised by last week’s raid by security operatives on the Abuja home of Supreme Court Justice Mary Odili continues to rumble, lawyers in this edition of Law and Human Rights give their verdicts on the unfortunate development.
The Supreme Court had earlier this week condemned the raid, describing it as uncivilised and a shameful show of primitive force.
The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Body of Senior Advocate of Nigeria, BOSAN and other stakeholders had also condemned the raid and warned of the consequences of such dangerous action.
Govt agencies denial unacceptable — Daudu(SAN)
Former NBA Chairman, Joseph Daudu, SAN, in his response, said: “I think a denial will be tenuous and unacceptable in the circumstances.
“It is a case where a denial cannot hold water. It will also be wrong and unprofessional for the Press to run with the deflated excuse given by Government departments of unknown invaders.
“This is because the Magistrate that signed the warrant knows those who requested him to sign the nameless warrant for them.
“From that point, it is clear that the Nigerian State Apparatus was involved in one way or the other with the invasion.
“This however does not answer the question of whodunnit. Was it the official government agency or fifth columnists or even rouge cells within government that carried out the illegal and dastardly operation on Justice Odili’s home and by so doing invaded her privacy and disturbed her well deserved peace?
“That is a matter for Government as elected in its sincerity to answer. This is the time for Minister of Information to provide all necessary information to the good people of Nigeria on the matter.
“If however Government does as expected and strives to close the matter by sweeping the mess under the carpet, we will as a people understand and make the necessary amends come 2023 by taking full control of the process of electing a new Government in place which Government must be accountable to the people.”
It portends great danger for everyone — Babatunde(SAN)
Mr. Layi Babatunde, SAN, described the raid as an unfortunate incident which evokes trepidation especially as we approach another election cycle and our economy in the doldrums.
He said: “It has all the stripes of an attempt to overawe the judiciary. No one should be deceived, that this is only about Justice Odili.
It is about all of us and the future of our personal liberties and Rule of Law, under a constitutional Democracy.
It portends grave danger to all of us and even the yet unborn! One gets the impression that the law is being abused most recklessly and turned into an unrestrained engine of oppression by those who have a duty to protect and preserve it.
“It also shows the quality of some of the people vested with powers to dispense justice. It beggars belief that such a search warrant can emanate from a court.
A warrant lacking in specifics and required details. An open ended warrant so to say! No serious investor good will take us seriously with happenings like this.
It is important that all those, who brought this untold embarrassment to our country and psychological trauma to Justice Mary Odili be quickly fished out and adequately punished in accordance with the law.”
Acts of impunity must stop — Erugo
Professor Sam Erugo, SAN said: “The invasion of Justice Mary Odili’s residence is an indication of the level of both insecurity and the unbridled impunity of security agents in Nigeria.
“It is not surprising that the AGF, Police, SSS and EFCC have all denied the involvement of their personnel in the raid.
“If you ask me, those offices officially could do better than this aberrant and not-well executed, distasteful or objectionable invasion – the search warrant was clearly dubious, the procedure lacked professionalism, and the office mentioned does not exist in the AGF’s office.
“However, some officers were involved, and the questions are – who authorized the invasion, and what were they up to.
“The test of whether they had some official support or authority or not, will lie in the speed with which they are be brought to book by the fingered offices.
“Nigerians are watching! After all, a very important component of the rule of law is crime and punishment.
“If the armed security men are not swiftly identified and prosecuted, then the conclusion will be obvious, particularly when we can recall the past ugly incidents of similar invasion in 2016 of the residences of some High Court Judges and Justices of the Supreme Court.
Justice Odili victim of wrong investigation procedure — Alliyu(SAN)
Mr. Yomi Alliyu, SAN, described the raid as barbaric and unwarranted. He said: “We must admit that no judge is immune from criminal liability including searches where necessary save that some procedures have to be followed.
The question begging for answer is the position of a judge married to an opposition politician suspected of act of brigandage in the house of his wife who is a judge.
Will the State fold its arms and let the act continue? The answer will be no.
“But security personnel have to be circumspect in the way they carry out the search or arrest of the offending spouse which is lacking in this instance.
“Many Nigerians have fallen victim and died innocently from this haphazard investigative modus operandi of security agencies. The Judiciary is complicit in that more than half of our judges are ‘convicting’ judges.
Unfortunately, Justice Odili is a victim of what the Judiciary has been ratifying for decades- arrest before investigation.
“Until Judiciary comes to the aid of common man raided daily with impunity by security operatives this attitude will continue. One day what goes round will come around.”
NBA’ll not allow such sacrilege without sanctions — Ubani
Chairman of Nigerian Bar Association Section on Public Interest and Development Law, NBA-SPIDEL, Dr. Monday Ubani said: “Remember that incident like this was precipitated in 2016 and led to the removal of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria through ex parte order.
“Till date the Nigerian judiciary is yet to recover from that onslaught.Here we are again with this inglorious assault on the number two judge in the hierarchy of judges in Nigeria and everything that pertained to the invasion smelt illegality from the beginning to the end.
“The dramatis personae are all denying without firm pronouncement as to the punishment for those who were involved in the infraction.
“Until comprehensive investigation is carried out and the culprits named and punished, I still hold the present government at the centre liable.
“The NBA under Olumide Akpata will not allow this sacrilege to go without reprisal. We will insist on punitive measures to those who have decided to desecrate and mess up the judicial arm of the government.”
It’s a sign of what is coming — Asemu dara
Ige Asemudara said: “This is a dangerous trend. When this happened to some judges some years ago, some unfortunate Nigerians came out to justify the dastard affront on the judiciary under some scandalous pretext.
“The home of a sitting justice of the Supreme Court cannot be invaded like that without any justification, order of court or any known cause. It is nothing but intimidation. It is a sign of things to come.
“Remember, elections are at hand. The season is upon us again when this administration will stop at nothing to distort the composition of the judiciary.
“However, this time all Nigerians must rise against lawlessness and intimidation. We must protect our institutions.
“If you have something against the Odillis, you should come out with it but not using underhand tactics to carry out scandalous covert operations which is nothing but uncivil oppression and barefaced intimidation.”
FG must demand explanation by IGP, AGF, others — Ojo
Gbenga Ojo said: “This is unfortunate and a total collapse of the security architecture in Nigeria. I have said it severally that we are gradually sliding towards dictatorship.
“What is the difference between Sunday Igboho and Justice Odilli, a Justice of the Supreme Court. Igboho’s case is even better comparatively. At least, we knew that, it was DSS that invades his house.
“In this case, AGF denied knowledge of the invasion. The same with the Police, DSS and even EFCC.
“It doesn’t speak well of this country and the Government of the day. It portrays the country as lacking in responsible leadership.
“The President must demand within 24 hours explanation from the IGP or the AGF otherwise the impression is that, it was government sponsored. In a good clime, heads would roll but in Nigeria, it is impunity.”
It’s dangerous to sanctity of judiciary — Elimihe
Sonnie Elimihe said: “A search warrant is a written document or order issued by a Magistrate directed to a designated police officer to search a property, office or an apartment occupied by a named person.
“It should contain the name of the person it’s directed to, the address of the property and the date and time it should be executed.
“The raid of an apartment occupied by a serving justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria by some yet to be identified police officers is not only barbaric, the height of executive lawlessness and recklessness but it portend a great danger to the sanctity of the judiciary.
“The denial by the Attorney General of the federation and the Inspector General of police means nobody is safe in this country.”