A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Jibrin Samuel Okutepa, has reacted to the invasion of the home of Hon. Justice Mary Odili, a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
Okutepa, in a statement made available to The Lawyer, said illegality is becoming the order of the day in Nigeria. According to him, Odili is not just a justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, but the next to the Chief Justice of Nigeria in rank.
The Learned Silk opines that the whole act is aimed at embarrassing and ridiculing the judiciary, not just Justice Odili.
“Everyday you wake up you are likely to see or be confronted or read about one absurdities or the other in Nigeria. You either read or see or get to hear about one illegality or the other.The degree of intolerable absurdities in the land of my birth Nigeria is quite disturbing. Nigeria is where you see GOLD being humiliated and rusted and IRON can do nothing. Honestly gold are just rusting in Nigeria.
“Yesterday the home of one of the justices of the Supreme Court was invaded by security operatives for for what they called search for illegal activities following a search warrant issued by a Chief Magistrate against No 9 Imo Street Abuja. The Chief Magistrate who issued the search warrant no doubt is a member of the legal profession.
“The search warrant according to news has now been revoked after Five-hour of embarrassing and humiliating siege on the home of Mr. Justice Mary Odili JSC.
“Mr. Justice Mary Odili is not an ordinary judge. He is the second most senior Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. He is next to the CJN in rank in the Supreme Court.
It was reported that a Chief Magistrates’ Court has now revoked a search warrant granted to the Joint Panel Recovery unit of the Federal Ministry of Justice to search the home of Supreme Court Justice Mary Odili.
“The panel, which comprises the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Nigeria Police Force and the Ministry of Justice, according to the reports, had obtained a search warrant from the magistrates’ court after a whistleblower, Aliyu Umar, claimed to have observed illegal activities going on at No. 9, Imo Street, Maitama, Abuja.
“Umar’s affidavit dated October 13, 2021, read in part, ‘I have observed some illegal activities going on in those houses within Abuja 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.’
“In a second affidavit deposed to by a senior police officer, CSP Lawrence Ajodo, the panel applied to the chief magistrate in Abuja seeking a search warrant to search the house.
“The Chief Magistrate, Emmanuel Iyanna, subsequently approved the search warrant on October 29, 2021. Armed with the search warrant, the police and other members of the panel stormed the house which turned out to be the home of Supreme Court Justice Mary Odili. In the reports making rounds and amist the controversy, the chief magistrate issued an order on Friday night revoking the search warrant accusing the government of misleading the court.
“The order 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 whole drama, in this case, has only one meaning and agenda to embarrass and humiliate not only Odili JSC but the entire judiciary using the legal profession as instrument of legitimacy. It is intended to ridicule and which has ridiculed the judiciary in most alarming proportions. It is absurd, undignified and in my humble view most reckless in the extreme on the parts of all who applied, issued and executed that so-called search warrant.” Okutepa said
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria expressed concern on the search warrant upon which the house of Odili was invaded. He said particulars of the suspected illegality was not disclosed in the affidavit nor details of the house.
Okutepa said the invasion of the house of a judge without due process is intimidation of the judiciary. He called on the Body of Senior Advocate of Nigeria to rise to the occasion to fight the battle. He also urged the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, to bark, not just bite. He said if nothing is done urgently, the Judiciary will go into extinction.
He said, “In the first place what was the nature of illegal activities at No.9 Imo Street Maitama Abuja. The deponent of the affidavit did not state it. The magistrate who issued the search warrant did not insist on the particulars to ensure he was not being misled or being used as an instrument of vindictiveness or embarrassment.
“In the second place search warrants are not issued against number of houses. It is issued against person or persons living in the house at the number named. So to apply for search warrant against the number of Street without naming the person against whom the warrant should be executed should have raised reasonable suspicion in the subconsciousness of the learned Chief Magistrate. In the 3rd place Mr Justice Mary Odili JSC is not an unknown person to security operatives who went to execute the so- called search warrant. If the mission of this whole drama was not to embarrass the learned jurist and the judiciary, the procedures to search and arrest public officers are well known and that should have been followed without this show of shame and ridicule of our judiciary institution.
“We must respect our judicial institutions no matter our feelings or perception. Raiding Houses of judges by security agencies under whatever circumstances without following due process of civility amounts in my view to intimidation of the judiciary. There is no other meaning than this: embarrass Mary Odili JSC and other judicial officers will be infused with timidity and toy the lines we want.
Judicial arm of government must not be intimidated by the executive no matter how the executive or its agencies feel. There are more civilised ways of doing things.
“Until the legal profession realised that its destiny is its hands and we come together to do the needful the judiciary and the legal profession will continued to be rubbished and humiliated by the power that be.
“This illegal invasion of judicial institution is one too many to be overlooked by the leadership of the legal profession. The Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria must wake up to fight this battle. The Bar and the Bench have condoned these intolerable misconduct on the part of executive for too long. Time for NBA to bite and not just barking is now. The leadership of the Bar and Bench must insist and see to it that those who applied for, those who issued or caused to be issued and those who went to execute this so- called search warrant are publicly brought to book.
If nothing is done urgently the legal profession in general and the judiciary in particular will soon go into the dustbin of history of elimination. Then anarchy will take over and Nigeria as a nation will be worst for it.”