Socio-economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged United Nation (UN) Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Diego García-Sayán, to ensure the President Muhammadu Buhari administration conduct a credible, impartial and transparent investigation into the assault on Supreme Court Justice, Mary Odili.
SERAP also urged García-Sayán to ask the Nigerian government to ensure any investigation into the assault is based on human rights principles, and protected from undue influence. The group said outcome of the investigation must be made public, and suspected perpetrators and their sponsors brought to justice.
SERAP’s petition followed a recent invasion of Odili’s Maitama, Abuja residence by armed personnel.
In the petition dated November 13, 2021, and signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said the intimidation and harassment of Odidi is a flagrant assault on judicial independence, and apparently aimed at further weakening judicial independence and the rule of law in Nigeria.
“The unconscionable attacks against Nigerian judges would seem to be a deliberate attempt by the authorities to exert pressure on the judiciary and undermine its independence and authority. These attacks are putting Nigerians’ freedoms at risk.
“Current investigation by the Nigerian police fails to meet international standards, as it is neither independent nor effective. As such, the investigation is incapable of identifying all the suspected perpetrators and their sponsors, and credibly delivering justice in the matter.
“The attack on Odili is not an isolated incident. There have been several violations of judicial independence and the rule of law in the country. In 2016, for example, Nigerian authorities reportedly invaded, in the middle of the night, homes of some judges of the Federal High Court and justices of the Supreme Court.
“The authorities have so far failed and/or refused to identify those suspected to be responsible and to bring them to justice.
“An independent judiciary is essential to the protection of human rights and respect for the rule of law. The principles of independence are the hallmarks of the rationale and the legitimacy of the judicial function in every state. Their absence leads to a denial of justice, and makes the credibility of the judicial process dubious.
“As expressed in the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct, ‘judicial independence is a prerequisite to the rule of law and a fundamental guarantee of a fair trial’,” SERAP stated in the petition.