Nigeria’s upper legislative assembly, the Senate, has concluded plans to debate the invasion on Friday October 29, 202 of the home of Justice Mary Odili of the Supreme Court by persons suspected to be security agents.
The Red Chambers of the National Assembly said that the matter will be debated on the grounds of Matter of Urgent National Importance.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele disclosed this at an oversight visit to the Chief Justice of Nigeria ((CJN) in his Office on Monday in Abuja.
Senator Opeyemi said, “We cannot pretend not to be unaware of the embarrassing situation on invasion of residence of Justice Mary Odili on Friday Night by Security Agent without Joining issue with anyone , we take the matter seriously, by the time, when we are back to plenary session, we will discuss the matter as urgent of National Importance.”
He also talked on the 2022 budget of the Judiciary on which he noted that it was right “to state that 2022 budget estimate for the Judiciary is N120 billion only representing an increase in the sum of N10 billion, over the sum which was appropriated in the 2021 Appropriation Act.
“Even though this increase is not enough to meet the competing needs and challenges of the Judiciary, we must commend the present administration for listening to the voice of reason and clamour from various quarters advocating for increased funding for the Judiciary.”
On his part, Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, the Chief Justice of Nigeria assured the visiting lawmakers that the other arms of government was not interfering on the activities of the judiciary; as he added that the National Assembly had not failed the Judiciary.
According to him, “Legislative arm of government has not failed us , there is nothing that we want that have not been granted by the National Assembly, you are doing right thing , if you see that something is going wrong with the Judiciary, call our attention to it. There is no interference from Legislature and Executive on our activities”.
The CJN further revealed that the Judiciary was ready to accept a correction if something is going wrong.
Meanwhile, the Acting Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court, Hajo Sarki Bello informed the lawmakers that 75 percent budget performance has been recorded in term of releases and 60 percent in expenditure.
She said that N368 million was appropriated to cater for the official vehicles of the Hon. Chief Justice of Nigeria and other Hon. Justices of the Supreme Court.
According to her, last year eight Hon. Justices were appointed into the bench of the court and the sum was used for the procurement of one vehicle each for eight newly appointed Justices in the interim pending the availability of the funds to procure the remaining vehicles.
Meanwhile, the Igbo sociopolitical organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo has condemned the invasion of the privacy of Justice Mary Odili, Justice of the Supreme Court of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Ohanaeze in a statement made available to Journalists in Enugu on Monday by its National Publicity Secretary, Chiedozie Alex. Ogbonnia said “We are pained that Nigeria is in the news, most of the time, for the wrong reasons.
According to him It is ethically unacceptable for the executive to invade the home of a senior member of the judicial arm of the government, in this case a Supreme Court Judge.
“It is simply a mockery on democracy and a foul miasma on the image of Nigeria. The siege on her home is an assault on several institutions; womanhood, judiciary, democracy, Rule of Law, civil society and indeed all facets of humanity.
Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide led by Ambassador Professor Obiozor advises the relevant authorities that part of the roles of any person recruited by the government for any position whatsoever includes the protection of the image of the chief executive at all times.
He said “It is regrettable that Officers in federal government often over reach themselves thereby lending the presidency and indeed Nigeria a bad name in the comity of nations.
Ohanaeze who described Justice Mary Odili as one of the few Judges in Nigeria with clean and intimidating credentials said “All the schools she attended still post her brilliant performances. In spite of her distinctive background as the daughter of a prominent lawyer and traditional ruler, she has remained humble and hardworking; an upright moral edifice who resisted all the lucre that the Office of the First Lady provided during the 8 years the husband, Dr. Peter Odili, served as the governor of Rivers State,”
Ohanaeze Ndigbo therefore demands that an unreserved apology should be rendered to the highly revered Justice of the Supreme Court; and an assurance that such an embarrassment will never be contemplated.
In another development, Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, on Monday, November 1, 2021, condemned the raid by security operatives on the Abuja residence of
Describing the incident as an ill-advised sting operation, Diri said it was an attempt to intimidate the judiciary, which is an independent arm of government.
Diri called on the Federal Government, which controls the security agencies, not to only investigate the incident but to also ensure that those found culpable are brought to book and properly sanctioned.
The governor, in a statement, reasoned that such condemnable acts by security agencies make a mockery of our country’s democracy and the principle of separation of powers.
He said the world was watching to see how the Federal Government handles the incident, which according to him, was another ugly episode and one too many on the attacks by security operatives on the homes of judicial officers in the country.
Diri said, “Nigeria is not a Banana Republic that security operatives would just take the laws into their hands. The raid on Justice Mary Odili’s residence is highly condemnable and should not be glossed over by any responsible government.
“I urge the Federal Government to conduct a thorough investigation into the incident and take needed actions against those found culpable.
“For me, the ill-advised raid was an attempt to intimidate the judiciary, judicial officers and custodians of the highest temple of justice. It is yet another attack on Justices in our country that deserves condemnation and should not be allowed to happen again.”
Uche Nwosu is a two time Shell Petroleum PLC award winner in the year 2000;
He won the Shell Award on Investigative Journalism and Environmental Cleanliness.