Odili’s Residence: Outrage Grows, Raid Team Leader, Whistleblower Face Police Panel

THE Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, has ordered an investigation into the Friday invasion of the residence of Justice Mary Odili in Maitama, Abuja.

The police boss, who directed the Force Intelligence Bureau to investigate the incident, said the perpetrators of the raid would be punished.

A complement of policemen and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission operatives stormed Odili’s Maitama residence last Friday on the strength of a purported tip by a whistleblower, Aliyu Umar, who claimed to have observed suspicious activities at the Supreme Court Justice’s residence.

Following an order by Chief Magistrate Emmanuel Iyanna, who approved the search warrant by a body identified as the Joint Panel Recovery unit in the Ministry of Justice, on October 29, 2021, the security operatives besieged Odili’s home but they were reportedly resisted.

Sequel to media reports, the magistrate revoked the order, saying he was misled.

The incident sparked an outrage with the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, absolving his office of involvement in the operation.

However, the Force spokesman, Frank Mba, in a statement on Monday, said the police leadership was not aware of the raid, adding that the IG had directed the Commissioner of Police, Federal Capital Territory, to strengthen the security on the street and residence of Odili to ensure her safety.

The statement titled, ‘Reported invasion of Justice Odili’s Abuja residence: IGP orders investigations,’ read in part, “The IGP, who noted that the leadership of the Force is not aware and did not at any time order police operatives to carry out such assignment, described the reported violation of the sanctity of the residence of the Justice of the Supreme Court as unfortunate and unacceptable.

“Consequently, the IGP has directed the Force Intelligence Bureau to conduct a discrete investigation into the incident. He assured the commitment of the Force to the safety and security of the members of the judiciary and Nigerians in general.”

The PUNCH learnt that the panel members, leader of the operation, CSP Lawrence Ajodo, and the whistleblower, Umar, will face FIB investigators.

They are expected to shed light on the intelligence that informed the operation at Odili’s home, the activities and legality of the panel, and other relevant issues.

But sources said some influential persons who were abusing the AGF fiat may have a hand in the raid.

Our correspondent learnt that Malami granted fiat to some individuals to recover Federal Government properties across the country.

A ministry official stated, “The fact is that some people are using the fiat given to them by the AGF to perpetrate all manners of illegalities. Some of them were granted the fiat to recover government properties but they are using the authority for illegal deals and things that are totally at variance with the purpose of the fiat.

“I won’t be surprised if investigations linked them to the raid on Odili’s residence because these individuals have been involved in shocking illegalities.”

The media aide to the AGF, Umar Gwandu, did not respond to the allegation when contacted on Monday.

Senate to debate invasion

Meanwhile,  the Senate on Monday said it would debate the Friday invasion of the residence of the Supreme Court Justice, Mary Odili, by security agents next week.

The red chamber vowed to treat the issue as a matter of urgent national importance.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, said this during an oversight visit to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammad, in his Office on Monday in Abuja.

The chairman said, “We cannot pretend not to be aware of the embarrassing situation regarding the invasion of the residence of Justice Mary Odili on Friday by security agents.

Bamidele said the 2022 budget estimate for the judiciary was N120bn, which he said was N10bn higher than that of 2021.

The Chief Justice of Nigeria said there was no interference from the legislative and the executive arms of government on the activities of the judiciary.

Raid on Odili’s residence ill-advised – Diri

Likewise, Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State on Monday condemned the raid on Justice Odili Abuja residence.

Diri described the incident as an ill-advised sting operation, and called on the Federal Government to investigate the incident and bring those found culpable to book.

The governor, in a statement said, “Nigeria is not a Banana Republic that security operatives will just take the law into their own 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.”

NHRC, Ohanaeze, others seek perpetrators’ prosecution

Similarly, the National Human Rights Commission on Monday described the raid as a violation of Justice Odili’s integrity and right to privacy.

“Without joining issue with anyone, we will take the matter seriously by the time we resume plenary session. We will discuss it as a matter of urgent of national importance.”

I won’t be surprised if investigations linked them to the raid on Odili’s residence because these individuals have been involved in shocking illegalities.”

The media aide to the AGF, Umar Gwandu, did not respond to the allegation when contacted on Monday.

The Executive Secretary of the NHRC, Tony Ojukwu (SAN), in a statement said, “The perpetrators must therefore be made to account for their professional misconduct by arresting them, prosecuting them and she deserves a public apology from those responsible for their professional misconduct.”

Also, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, and Coalition of Civil Society Organisations in the South-East condemned the invasion , describing it as a “miasma.”

In a separate statement on Monday, Ohanaeze and the coalition of CSOs demanded that the Federal Government should tender apology to Justice Odili , while those who carried out the invasion be brought to justice.

Ohanaeze in statement by its spokesman, Alex Ogbonnia, said, “It is ethically reprehensible and globally 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 justice.”

The statement added, “The invasion of Justice Mary Odili residence 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.”

On their part, the CSOs in statement said the “gestapo invasion and raiding” was reprehensible.

It said, “The cabalistic government must have also seen her as a major threat in the post Anambra’s kangaroo governorship poll’s litigation and a stumbling block to the repetition of the Imo Supreme Court infamy of January 2020.”

Democracy becoming unsafe under Buhari’

In addition, the Southern Nigeria Frontier on Monday said the invasion was the height of corruption and executive recklessness targeted at intimidating the judiciary.

The spokesperson for SNF, Olufemi Lawson, in a statement added that the abuse of power and threat to democracy under the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), was so obvious that democracy in Nigeria was becoming unsafe.

He said, “Despite the denial by the administration, particularly the office of the Attorney General of the Federation, we wish to let Nigerians, and the International community note that this is another move by the administration, to intimidate, denigrate and ridicule the judiciary just like what was done to unceremoniously sack former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onoghen.”

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