Wednesday, December 1, 2021

NBA condemns raid of Odili residence, says “we’ll no longer allow intimidation of judiciary”

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Olumide Akpata, the president of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, has condemned the raid of the home of Justice Mary Odili of the Supreme Court by security operatives in Abuja on Friday, saying the association would no longer allow the intimidation of the judiciary.

Mr Akpata, in a statement, described the incident as part of an orchestrated affront on the judiciary designed to intimidate and ridicule it.

The NBA president said he would lead a delegation to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, AGF Abubakar Malami, SAN, and relevant heads of security agencies to seek further clarification on the incident.

“The Nigerian Bar Association received with grave concern the news of the unlawful siege on the Abuja residence of a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, Honourable Justice Mary Ukaego Peter-Odili, last night by officers of one or more of the Nigerian security agencies.

“Almost 24 hours later, information concerning the basis of the siege remains hazy and the subject of speculation, apart from reports that the invasion was pursuant to a search warrant issued by a Magistrate Court in Abuja, which search warrant has now been revoked.

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“The Honourable AGF under whose office the team that purportedly carried out the raid is allegedly domiciled has also reportedly denounced the team, which implies that the residence of the second most senior judicial officer in Nigeria was raided by rogue security agencies.

“The grave implications of this possibility leave a lot to be desired.

“When viewed in the context of a similar raid on the premises of Supreme Court Justices in 2016, the rationale of which was never satisfactorily justified, the NBA interprets last night’s incident as part of an orchestrated affront on the judiciary, designed to intimidate and ridicule the judiciary. The NBA will no longer allow this to continue.

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“In case the law enforcement agencies have not learnt their lessons, events like this do nothing but erode the independence of sacred democratic institutions like the judiciary, undermine the rule of law in Nigeria and set the country back in the quest to instil confidence in citizens of Nigeria, Nigerian businesses, and foreign investors that Nigeria operates a democracy with an independent judiciary.

“I have spoken with My Lord, Peter-Odili JSC and I am happy to report that she is alive and well. Beyond that, however, it is my pledge to Nigerians that the NBA will get to the root of this matter.

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“In line with the aims and objectives of the NBA to protect and defend the independence of the judiciary and the Rule of Law, we will convene an emergency meeting of the NBA National Executive Committee solely to discuss this issue and take a definitive stand on behalf of the NBA.

“I will also lead a delegation to the Honourable AGF Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN and the relevant heads of security agencies to seek further clarification on the circumstances of this incident.

“The NBA will ensure that all those responsible for this unfortunate incident are brought to book. We must do all that is required to safeguard the independence of our judiciary and indeed protect our hard-won democracy.”

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