Justice Odili: Supreme Court blows hot, orders independent probe

Justice Mary Odili; Supreme Court condemns invasion of her residence, orders independent probe

By Ebere Agozie

Nigeria’s apex court, the Supreme Court on Tuesday came out strongly in condemnation of the invasion of the home of one of its judicial officer, Justice Mary Odili’s by yet to be identified security operatives last Friday.

Some security operatives, said to be from the Federal Ministry of Justice, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and the police had invaded the residence of Justice Odili based on a search warrant obtained from a Magistrate Court on Friday evening.

But the Police, EFCC and the Federal Ministry of Justice have denied authoring any such raid. The Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba and the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami had ordered investigation into the incident.

But in its first reaction to the incident on Tuesday stated in a statement by its Director of Press and Information, Dr Akande Festus, the Supreme Court described the invasion of Odili’s residence by the security operatives as ‘impunity taken too far, uncivilised and a shameful show of primitive force on an innocent judicial officer.’

The Court also said it has ordered “a full scale independent investigation to unravel the true masquerades behind the mystery as well as the real motives behind the whole incident.”

The court warned that the judiciary should not be misconstrued by any individual or institution of government as the whipping child among the three arms of government.

The statement, read in part, “We are alarmed by 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 force on an innocent judicial officer that has 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 our facilities across the country, and we say, enough is enough.

“The judiciary should never be construed by any individual or institution of government as the arm of government that must always be chastised and ridiculed into 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 incident.”

He equally called 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 to make his findings known to the Nigerian public with a view to bringing the perpetrators to justice as quickly as possible.