From Godwin Tsa, Abuja, Abuja and Christopher Oji
The Supreme Court has described the raid on the Abuja residence of Justice Mary Odili by security operatives as an impunity taken too far.
This came as the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN) met with the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) where they called for an immediate probe of last Friday’s siege.
Members of the group including Adegboyega Awomolo, Prof. Yemi Akinseye-George and Jibrin Okutepa had during the meeting warned that the development threatens judicial independence and the nation’s democracy.
Speaking with journalists after the meeting, Awomolo said the group also plans to meet with the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) on the issues.
Dr. Umar Gwandu, media aide to the AGF, said Malami denied involvement of his office in the incident and had written relevant security agencies to investigate the development.
In a statement, yesterday, the apex court warned that judiciary should not be misconstrued by any individual or institution of government as the whipping child among the three arms of government.
The statement by its Director of Press and Information, Dr Akande Festus, said the attack was uncivilised and shameful show of primitive force on innocent judicial officer.
The statement read in part: “We are alarmed with 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 primitive force on an innocent judicial officer that has so far 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 facilities across the country and we say it loudly now that enough is enough.
“The judiciary should never be misconstrued by any individual or institution of government as the weeping child among the three arms of government that must always be chastised and ridiculed to 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 imbroglio.
“Similarly, we call on the Inspector General of Police of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to rise up to the occasion by carrying out a discreet investigation and make his findings known to the Nigerian public with a view to bringing the perpetrators to justice as quickly as possible.
“The Nigerian Judiciary cannot only bark, but can also bite. We can no longer be treated with disdain and levity. The rule of law and constitutionality must govern our conduct so that we can tag along with the comity of nations and be taken seriously too.”
However, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr. Usman Akali Baba, yesterday, said perpetrators of the act have been arrested, while the case was investigated to know their motives.
“I had taken my time not to speak quickly, because I want to appreciate the situation so if I speak I should be able to give Nigerians the real thing that happened. For now, and to the best of my knowledge, we have been able to arrest the perpetrators and we are investigating,” he said at a workshop in Lagos, yesterday.