By Yemi Oyeyemi, Abuja
The invasion of the home of Nigeria’s number two Supreme Court Justice, Mary Odili, by security agents executing a dubiously acquired search warrant is impunity taken too far, the apex court said on Tuesday.
Breaking its silence four days after the incident, it described as unlawful invasion 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.
In its first reaction to the ugly situation, the Supreme Court in a statement by its Director of Press and Information, Dr. Akande Festus, said that the attack was uncivilized and shameful show of primitive force on an 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 whipping 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 dehumanising 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”.
Recall that a Chief Magistrate Emmanuel Iyanna, who issued the search warrant said he was deceived to do so through misrepresentation of facts by two affidavits that were deposed to by a self-acclaimed whistleblower, Aliyu Umar, and a senior Police Officer, CSP Lawrence Ajodo.
His revocation order on the same day read: “Upon misrepresentation to this honourable court that led to the issuance of a search warrant in favour of Joint Panel Recovery, Ministry of Justice, against House 9, Imo Street, Maitama, Abuja, dated October 29, 2021.
“In view of the above fact, the said search warrant is hereby revoked.”
The whistleblower, Umar, had claimed that he observed some illegally activities going on at Justice Odili’s residence in Abuja.
In an affidavit he deposed to on October 13, Umar averred: “I have observed some illegal activities going on in those houses within Abuja that are illegal and hereby report the said matter to the law enforcement agency.
“I, hereby, state that all information provided by me to the EFCC is true and correct to the best of my knowledge.”
Based on the affidavit, CSP Ajodo, acting on behalf of the panel which comprises the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Nigeria Police Force and the Ministry of Justice, also deposed to an affidavit, wherein he applied for a warrant to be issued for Justice Odili’s house to be searched.