FG must unravel mystery behind invasion of Justice Odili’s residence

Last Friday, the nation was put in shock and since remained confused regarding the night invasion of the residence of Supreme Court’s Justice Mary Odili. Since the failed invasion, there have been denials, controversy, and attempt at confusing members of the public over what actually happened to the respected Justice of the Supreme Court. All “dramatist personae” fingered in the infamous act, have denied involvement and have stridently extricated themselves from the dangerous and criminal act.

Justice Odili is currently the second most senior Justice at the Supreme Court. And that is the crux of the matter. No less than 50 security personnel comprising operatives of the Nigerian Military, the Police, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Department of State Security (DSS) and officials of the Federal Ministry of Justice invaded her residence last Friday. So far, the head of all these agencies, have all denied instructing, having any knowledge surreptitiously or otherwise in the terrible act.

Eyewitnesses reported that at least 50 “operatives” had arrived at the Odili’s residence on Friday evening and attempted to break into the premises but for the resistance of the security details attached to the Justice, her domestic staff, members of the public and her neighbours.

Questions have trailed the sordid act: Who did it? Was it an assassination attempt on the woman? Was it a ploy to plant incriminating items at her residence? Was it an attempt to blackmail her an remove her from the judiciary, including frustrating her as Justice Beatrice Iliya, the most senior Judge at the Gombe State Judiciary, who has been denied ascendancy to the post of Chief Judge of the state by forces of darkness, seen as being suported by the National Judicial Commission (NJC) which keep mum over the matter?

After the Chairman of the EFCC denied knowledge of the invasion of Justice Odili’s home, all the drama that followed, including the hasty withdrawal of the controversial search warrant by Chief Magistrate Emmanuel Iyanna who said he was misled by government into issuing the controversial warrant, up to the denial by the AGF, Abubakar Malami, who has called for a probe of the entire issue, Nigerians are wondering how that kind of thing could have happened, yet those who had the temerity to carry out the sordid act are denying involvement?

According to Chief Magistrate Iyanna, “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.” Should Nigerians accept that the matter is closed and should go about their normal businesses? The answer is a capital NO.

It was gathered from documents in possession of The AUTHORITY and other media houses that the so-called Ministry of Justice Panel, which carried out the act is said to be coordinated by the Federal Ministry of Justice. It claimed that it obtained a search warrant from the Magistrate Court after a purported whistleblower, one Aliyu Umar, told them that he had observed “illegal activities going on at No. 9, Imo Street, Maitama, Abuja”. The particulars of such illegal activity, up till now, are shrouded in secrecy, but it suffices that a person of unknown quantity did make such a claim.

Umar’s affidavit which was dated October 13, 2021, read in part: “I have observed some illegal activities (not clearly defined) 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.” Yet, EFCC denied knowledge!

Following Umar’s depositions (which was never at any time discretely investigated by any arm of the nation’s security agencies) there was a second affidavit deposed to by a claimed senior police officer named CSP Lawrence Ajodo, indicating that the panel applied for search warrant to the Chief Magistrate, Iyanna, on Friday, October 29, 2021. Armed with the search warrant, the police and other members of the said panel stormed the residence of Justice Mary Odili.

Meanwhile, the AGF Abubakar Malami, has denied involvement in the incident. Malami told PREMIUM TIMES through his spokesperson, Alhaji Umar Gwandu, that he “is not involved in any way”.

He said: “Look at the documents. Is there any unit in the Federal Ministry of Justice called ‘Joint Panel Recovery’? There are lots of discrepancies in the documents. The ministry or the AGF is not involved in any way, and we are going to issue a statement soon”. Up till Sunday night, the Ministry of Justice has not issues any official statement to the knowledge of The AUTHORITY.

Even as Malami denies, we need to ask: Is there any police officer in Nigeria named, Lawrence Ajodo, the man whose photograph has been on the affidavit? Did he apply to the Chief Magistrate’s Court in Wuse Zone 6 for a search warrant? On whose instruction did he act? Was there any person known as Aliyu Umar and did he at any time file any report to any arm of the nation’s security? What happened afterwards, if any?

Mr. Gwandu made some observations which is why Malami should lose his sleep forthwith. He stated that: “The application was written on a letterhead of a body named ‘Ghost Account for Local Government Whistleblowers & Assets Tax Recovery Panel’; the footnote on the letterhead has the contact details of what was described as ‘Head of Criminal Litigation’ with its address given as 18, Tunis Street, Wuse Zone 5, Abuja; along with three telephone numbers, the email address was also on the document”; the application was written on 28th October, 2021. When was it submitted? When was the ‘warrant’ issued? When was the ‘raid’?” Are these not enough to make Malami experience sleepless nights until it is fully resolved? His name and office are at stake. He must come out clear on these, ditto for the heads of the EFCC, DSS and the Police.

We at The AUTHORITY charge the National Security Adviser (NSA) to take up the gauntlet get to the bottom of the matter and make his findings public. Prevaricating over or tossing about it would send the wrong signals and create an impression that certain powerful persons are either not comfortable with Justice Odili or they want to silence her. We must end this notion that “every sordid act is possible in Nigeria”.

It should be recalled that Supreme Court Justices’ homes were raided by the DSS in 2016.  The security outfit equally raided the residences of Justice Adeniyi Ademola, and Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court in Abuja. While charges were not preferred against Justice Okoro, Justices Ngwuta and Adeniyi were arraigned. The courts dismissed the charges against Justice Adeniyi, while Justice Ngwuta’s case was terminated on technical ground.

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