The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has condemned the raid on the residence of a justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Mary Peter-Odili, by a group of yet-to-be-identified security operatives.
In a statement on Saturday, NBA President Olumide Akpata listed some of the actions to be taken by the legal body to ensure the perpetrators were brought to justice.
These actions, he explained, are in line with the aims and objectives of the NBA, including the protection and defence of the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law in Nigeria.
“We will be convening an emergency meeting of the NBA National Executive Committee solely to discuss this issue and take a definitive stand on behalf of the NBA,” said Akpata.
“I will also lead a delegation to the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, and the relevant heads of security agencies to seek further clarification on the circumstances of this incident.
“Thereafter, the NBA will ensure that all those responsible for this unfortunate incident are brought to book. We must do all that is required to safeguard the independence of our judiciary and indeed protect our hard-won democracy.”
He stated that about 24 hours after the incident, information concerning the basis of the siege remained hazy and the subject of speculation.
The NBA president stressed that this was far from reports that the invasion was pursuant to a search warrant issued by a Magistrate Court in Abuja, which has now been revoked.
According to him, the AGF under whose office the team that purportedly carried out the raid is allegedly domiciled has also denounced the team, which suggests the inference that the residence of the second most senior judicial officer in the country was raided by rogue security agencies.
“The grave implications of this possibility leave a lot to be desired,” Said Akpata. “When viewed in the context of a similar raid on the premises of Supreme Court Justices in 2016, the rationale of which was never fully explained or indeed justified, the NBA interprets last night’s incident as a part of an orchestrated affront on the judiciary, designed to intimidate and ridicule the judiciary.
“The NBA will no longer allow this to continue. I have spoken with My Lord, Peter-Odili JSC and I am happy to report that she is alive and well. Beyond that, however, it is my pledge to Nigerians that the NBA will get to the root of this matter.”
The NBA president believes the law enforcement agencies ought to have learned from past incidents, events like this do nothing but erode the independence of sacred democratic institutions like the judiciary.
He added that they undermine the rule of law in the country and set the nation back in the quest to instill confidence in citizens, Nigerian businesses, and foreign investors that Nigeria operates a democracy with an independent judiciary.