From Fred Itua and Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
Rivers State Governor, Nyeesom Wike, has issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the Federal Government to unearth masterminds of night’s attack on the Abuja residence of Justice Mary Odili.
Since the attack last Friday, security agencies have denied their role, while the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, also washed his hands off it.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja, yesterday, Wike described the attack as an assassination attempt on the life of Mrs Odili, who is a Justice of the Supreme Court.
He said recent developments surrounding the family of Peter Odili called for serious concerns from Nigerians.
“There is something sinister going on,” he alleged warning that “if anything happens to the family of Odili, the Federal Government should be held responsible.”
He said if within 48 hours nothing was done, the government of Rivers State would take the necessary steps to seek justice.
“We are here as people of Rivers State. We are meeting here to let the world know what has happened to the family of Peter Odili, especially the wife. About a year ago, she was in a panel that gave a judgment in Bayelsa State. Members of APC who were not happy barricaded her residence. The Federal Government didn’t condemn that act. We need to understand the pattern of the Federal Government. Odili travelled abroad about four months ago. When he returned, they seized his passport. He had to go to court to enforce his fundamental human rights.
“Last Friday, the residence of Odili was invaded by security agents controlled by the Federal Government. We have read about all the denial. Can security operatives apply to a Magistrate Court to get a search warrant? They said there was an illegal activity. Odili was in Rivers State. If the Federal Government is saying that they’re not involved, they must prove that they’re not involved. Having known that it was the police that applied and a Magistrate court gave it, it means we know them. Denying it won’t satisfy us in Rivers State.
“I’ve said it that the Federal Government should stop using security agents to harass the judiciary. We are telling the world, if anything happens to the family of Odili, the Federal Government should be held responsible. That is the position of Rivers State Government. Enough is enough. We can’t continue to operate like this as if Nigeria is a Banana Republic. The names of those involved are known. Government must take a drastic measure to convince us that they’re not part of it.
“The judiciary can’t continue to fold their hands. NBA should go beyond their reaction. They should take steps. We are taking steps as a Government in Rivers State to find out who are those behind it. This is an attempt to assassinate the family members of Odili. This assassination attempt won’t be ignored. The Federal Government needs to speak up. This is why all the leaders of the state are here to let the world know what is happening. We are giving them a 48-hour ultimatum to come out and tell us what happened. We are tired of the panels they’re setting up. We need more. There is something sinister going on. We will take the right step if they fail to respond.”
We were hoping that by now, the Magistrate would have been invited and questioned. We also need to know the whistleblower and how came about it. I know how the government operates.”
Also reacting, the House of Representatives called for an inquest into the invasion.
Chairman, House Committee on Judiciary, Onofiok Luke, in a statement, condemned the incident and pledged support for every effort that would ensure the sanctity of the judiciary.
He said attack on Odili’s residence was reminiscent of the invasion of residences of justices of the apex court by security agents in 2016.
He stated that it is “also a wake-up call to tighten administrative and supervisory control over the operations of law enforcement agencies in the country.”
Luke noted that “it is mind boggling that in the dusk of 29 October 2021, the Judiciary was once again exposed to public opprobrium, due to the uncanny manner in which the residence of the Honourable Justice Mary Peter-Odili of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, was invaded by law enforcement officials purportedly on an assignment to execute a search warrant, issued by a Magistrate.
“Also disturbing is the fact that the said warrant was revoked by the issuing Magistrate who had discovered that it was procured by the Applicant on the premises of misrepresented facts.”