By Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja and Blessing Ibunge
The House of Representatives Committee on Judiciary has called for a discreet investigation to unravel the persons behind the invasion of the residence of Justice Mary Peter-Odili.
The Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Onofiok Luke in a statement issued yesterday described he invasion of Peter-Odili’s residence as an assault on the sanctity on the nation’s judiciary.
This just as the Rivers State Governor, Mr. Nyesom Wike has issued 48 hour ultimatum to the federal government to prosecute the invaders of the residence of Justice Odili.
Luke said it was mind boggling that in the dusk of 29 October 2021, the Judiciary was once again exposed to public redicule, due to the uncanny manner in which the residence of Justice Odili of the Supreme Court was invaded by law enforcement officials purportedly on an assignment to execute a search warrant, issued by a Magistrate
He noted that the ignoble act was capable of straining the existing relationship between the Judiciary and the Executive arms of our democratic government.
Luke noted that disturbing was the fact that the said warrant was revoked by the issuing Magistrate who had discovered that it was procured by the Applicant on the premises of misrepresented facts.
The lawmaker therefore condemned in totality such ignoble action, and pledged to every effort at ensuring the sanctity of the nation’s judiciary while giving continuous support to the independence of the judiciary.
Luke said: “This unfortunate development is also a wake-up call to tighten administrative and supervisory control over the operations of law enforcement agencies in the country.”
“As a Committee currently interfacing with the judiciary for an improved judicial reform and justice system, we wish to lend our voice once again, to the repeated call by His Lordship; the Honourable Justice Tanko Muhammed CJN, on all Judicial Officers on the need to exercise more caution in issuing ex-parte, conflicting and questionable orders that are capable of bringing disrepute to our Justice system.”
Luke stressed that the siege, was a reminiscent of the 2016 incident, where in the beat of the night, security agencies invaded private residences of judicial officers, which subsequently turned out as an underserved phenomenon, and a dent on the professed independence of the judiciary, and demanding protection for judges.
He added, “On this note, the House of Representative Committee on the Judiciary calls for a discreet investigation to unravel the persons behind this ignoble act, which is capable of straining the existing relationship between the Judiciary and the Executive arms of our democratic government.”
The lawmaker assured that the committee would collaborate with the judiciary and relevant stakeholders to secure the nation’s democracy, since the confidence and respect of citizens in the judiciary may likely wane if incidence of this nature continues unchecked.
Meanwhile, Governor Wike has warned that should anything ill happen to Justice Odili, her husband, former Governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili, the federal government should be held accountable.
Wike, on behalf of Rivers State elders, federal and state lawmakers and council chairmen made the call during a press briefing in Abuja yesterday.
The governor said they have observed a pattern of persistent harassment of the Odili’s family in recent times by agencies of the federal government.
He recalled that on the fateful day the Supreme Court nullified the election victory of the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate in Bayelsa State, hoodlums suspected to be political thugs invaded the residence of Justice Odili, but the federal government did not take any steps to bring the culprits to book.
Governor Wike noted that just recently Dr. Odili had legitimately travelled out of the country for medicals, but on his arrival, his international passport was confiscated for inexplicable reasons by the Immigration Service.
He said initially the federal government had feigned ignorance of the seizure of Odili’s passport. But, after the former governor approached the court to enforce his fundamental human right, the immigration service eventually came up with excuse to justify their act.
Governor Wike described as most worrisome last Friday’s invasion of the residence of Justice Odili by federal government security agencies that allegedly claimed they had a warrant issued by a Magistrate Court to search the property.
The governor noted that though the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice had denied involvement in the siege on Justice Odili’s residence, the people of Rivers State consider his denial as unsatisfactory.
He charged the federal government to within 48 hours apprehend all those involved in the raid of the residence of the Supreme Court justice, the alleged whistle blower and also interrogate the Magistrate who issued the order.
Governor Wike said the people of Rivers State fear that the motive of those who invaded Odili’s residence may have been to assassin the Supreme Court justice, her husband and children.
He declared that the lives of Justice Odili and her husband are important to the people of Rivers State and that the federal government must ensure nothing sinister happen to them.