Justice Odili: Southern group cautions security agencies against further harrasment

A group, the Southern and Middle Belt Alliance (SaMBA), has warned security agencies to desist from harassing Judges from the Southern region of the country.

The warning was against the backdrop of the alleged invasion of Justice Mary Odili’s home in Abuja by security operatives, an accusation which has since been denied by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) via a statement.

The global group which advised the security agencies to follow due process and route whatever complaint they may have to the National Judicial Council (NJC) noted that no agency of government is above the law.

They have therefore called on President Muhammadu Buhari to not only lead by example, but should as a matter of urgency issue official query to any security agency found to be acting without following due process.

In a signed press statement issued by Prince Rwang Pam Jnr, the SaMBA’s official spokesman condemned the conduct of the security agents as undemocratic and unprofessional.

The group recalled the 2016 invasion of the residence of some Judges from SaMBA regions including Justices Sylvester Ngwuta and John Okoro of the Supreme Court, and Nnamdi Dimgba and Adeniyi Ademola, of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court.

SaMBA also recalled the unholy removal of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Walter Onnoghen ahead of 2019 general election.

The group further warned against any plan to set up Justice Olukayode Ariwoola who is due to succeed the incumbent CJN in office.

The statement further reads, “The continuous harassment of Judges from Southern Nigeria can no longer be acceptable. It is disheartening that security agents could invade the residence of a Justice of Supreme Court without following laid down rules or procedure.

“The question that begs for answer is why the residence of Justice Mary Odili was invaded when the case of VAT collection instituted by Lagos and Rivers states at the Supreme Court is pending; is it an attempt to intimidate the judges and force her to give judgement in favour of the Federal Government?

“This intimidation of our judiciary is a clear attempt to compromise the independence of our third arm of government.

“We totally condemn this blatant attempt to intimidate and corrupt the judiciary and strongly advice Mr Abubakar Malami, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice to immediately fish out the culprits and make sure that adequate punishment is meted out to them to avoid future reoccurrence.

“The Nigeria populace will resist any attempt to northernize the Judiciary or any attempt to intimidate and frustrate Judges from Southern and Middle Belt region.”