From Fred Itua, Abuja
The Senate has said a joint panel recovery unit of the Ministry of Justice, comprising of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Nigeria Police Force and the Ministry of Justice, was behind the home invasion of a Supreme Court Justice, Mary Odili.
It said the unit purportedly sought a search warrant from an FCT magistrate after ‘a so-called whistleblower claimed to have observed illegal activities allegedly going on in a house at Imo street, Maitama.’
The Upper Legislative Chamber condemned the invasion, while commending the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Alkali Baba, for making arrests and constituting a panel to investigate the raid on her residence.
Accordingly, it urged the IGP to make public all findings of the investigation into the matter.
These formed part of resolutions reached by the Senate on Tuesday following a point of order raised by Betty Apiafi during plenary.
Apiafi, while coming under Order 42 and 52 of the Senate Standing Rules, moved a motion on the “Urgent Need to Investigate the Invasion of Justice Mrs Odili’s Residence by Security Agents”.
The senator, in her motion, noted that on October 29, security operatives invaded the home of the Supreme Court Judge.
She noted that Justice Mary Odili is the second most senior judicial officer in Nigeria.
She added that ‘the Senate is worried that this incident, brings back to mind the similar invasion of homes of some senior Judicial Officers, including Chief Judges of the Supreme Court, and Judges of the Federal High Court in Abuja and other parts of the country in October 2016, which was widely condemned.
‘Further worried that the home of such a highly revered judicial officer could be raised in such a manner by security agents. The Senate is disturbed that eleven days after the incident, though the Inspector General of Police claims some arrests have been made and investigations are still ongoing, even though the details of such arrest have not been made public.’
Contributing, Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, who chairs the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, said no member of the upper chamber ‘was at ease hearing the news of what happened.’
He added that the motion presented by Senator Apiafi represents the collective desire of members of the National Assembly in ensuring that the government takes appropriate steps to bring to book all those found culpable.
He noted that doing so would send a clear signal on the need to respect the sanctity of the Judiciary and to also protect Judicial Officers in Nigeria, whose rights under the law must be protected.
George Thompson Sekibo, on his part, recalled that the Port Harcourt residence of Justice Mary Odili was invaded a couple of months ago.
‘Several reasons were given why thugs invaded the house. I don’t want to mention the reasons, so it does not bring in controversy.
‘Recently, as the motion said, the house in Abuja was also invaded. [And] then after a struggle, the security agents that invaded the place left the residence.
‘They claimed to have brought a warrant from a magistrate court in Abuja. They claimed the Minister of Justice was aware of it. There are several claims. The Minister of Justice has denied and dissociated himself from that, the Chairman of EFCC has also done that.
‘I’ve read statements by the Inspector General of Police that he has carried some arrests and that they are investigating the matter.
‘My problem is this: oftentimes things happen and then police investigates and, in most cases, we don’t get the result of the investigation. I pray that this investigation comes to the limelight,’ he stated.