The upper chamber of Nigeria’s National Assembly on Tuesday condemned the invasion of the Abuja residence of Supreme Court Justice, Mary Peter-Odili, by security operatives.
The Senate, which urged the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, to make public, all findings of investigation into the matter, commended him for making arrests and constituting a panel to investigate the raid on the Odili’s jurist residence.
The resolutions followed a point of order raised by Senator Betty Apiafi, during plenary which came under order 42 and 52 of the Senate Standing Rules, to move a motion on the “Urgent Need to Investigate the Invasion of Justice Mrs. Odili’s Residence by Security Agents.”
Leading debate on the motion, Apiafi noted that on October 29, 2021, security operatives invaded the home of the Supreme Court Judge, adding that Justice Odili is the second most senior judicial officer in Nigeria.
She recalled that a joint panel recovery unit of the Ministry of Justice, comprising of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Nigerian Police and the Ministry of Justice, purportedly sought for a search warrant from an FCT Magistrate after a so called whistleblower claimed to have observed illegal activities allegedly going on in a house at Imo street, Maitama.
According to the ranking Senator, the incident, brings back to mind the similar invasion of homes of some senior Judicial Officers, including Chief Judges of the Supreme Court, and Judges of the Federal High Court in Abuja and other parts of the country in October 2016, which was widely condemned.
“Further worried that the home of such a highly revered judicial officer could be raised in such a manner by security agents.
“The Senate is disturbed that eleven days after the incident, though the Inspector General of Police claims some arrests have been made and investigations are still ongoing, even though the details of such arrest have not been made public.
Contributing to the motion, Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, said no member of the upper chamber “was at ease hearing the news of what happened.”
He added that the motion presented by Senator Apiafi, represents the collective desire of members of the National Assembly in ensuring that the government takes appropriate steps to bring to book all those found culpable.
According to him, doing so would send a clear signal on the need to respect the sanctity of the Judiciary and to also protect Judicial Officers in Nigeria, whose rights under the law must be protected.
On his part, Senator George Thompson Sekibo (PDP, Rivers East), recalled that the Port Harcourt residence of Justice Odili was invaded a couple of months ago.
He said: “Several reasons were given why thugs invaded the house. I don’t want to mention the reasons, so it does not bring in controversy.
“Recently, as the motion said, the house in Abuja was also invaded. And after a struggle, the security agents that invaded the place left the residence.
“They claimed to have brought a warrant from a magistrate court in Abuja.
“They claimed the Minister of Justice was aware of it. There are several claims.
“The Minister of Justice has denied and dissociated himself from that, the Chairman of EFCC has also done that.
“And I’ve read statements by the Inspector General of Police that he has carried some arrests and that they are investigating the matter.
“My problem is this, oftentimes, things happen and then police investigates and, in most cases, we don’t get the result of investigation.
“I pray that this investigation comes to limelight.”
Accordingly, the Senate in its resolutions condemned the invasion of the home of the second and most senior judicial officer in Nigeria, Justice Odili.”
He also commended the Inspector General of Police for the arrests already made and investigation panel he has instituted and further urged him to, “make public the outcome of investigations.”
Emameh Gabriel in Abuja