- Discloses warrant of arrest must henceforth be approved by chief judges
The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, on Wednesday, warned that the Judiciary will begin to rise up against what he described as “clandestine attempt” to silence it in the discharge of its lawful judicial functions.
The CJN was speaking against the recent siege on the residence of the second most senior Justice of the Supreme Court, Mary Peter-Odili, by alleged security operatives.
Justice Muhammad, who noted that the Judiciary would begin to assert itself so as to become the pride of the nation, stated that the Judiciary has had enough of embarrassment of its judicial officers and would no longer take it kindly in the event of any repeat of the ugly treatment to judges from security operatives.
He spoke in Abuja during the conferment of the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) on 72 lawyers, as well as the commencement of the 2021/2022 legal year of the Supreme Court.
According to Muhammad, the silence of the judiciary should never be mistaken for stupidity or weakness.
“On a very sad note, I must say, we were jolted with embarrassingly news of the invasion of the official residence of one of our brother Justices, Hon Justice Mary Peter Odili on Friday, October 29 by men suspected to be security operatives, acting on a search warrant.
“The said warrant was purportedly obtained from an Abuja magistrate’s court under questionable circumstances.
“I must make it known to all and sundry that we have had enough dosage of such embarrassment and harassment of our judicial officers across the country and we can no longer take any of such shenanigans.
“The silence of the judiciary should never be mistaken for stupidity or weakness,” he said.
“We shall begin to resist any clandestine attempt to silence or ridicule us to oblivion.
“Nigeria, to the best of my knowledge, is not a lawless society. We should begin to do things that will project us favourably and rightly too, to the international community.
“No law permits anyone to invade, subdue or overawe any Nigerian citizen in his or her residence with a flimsy, fraudulently obtained search warrant,” he added.
The CJN noted that by the nature of their work, they are conservative but not conquered species and should not be pushed further than this by any individual, institution or agency of the government.
He assured Nigerians that very soon, those taking judiciary as a mere weakling will soon realise that “it is from the calmest seas we often experience the fiercest storms”.
He therefore stated that: “No one, irrespective of his or her status or position in the country, should test our will because the consequences of such unwarranted provocation will be too dire to bear.
“We are making efforts now to ensure that henceforth, every search or arrest warrant must be issued with the knowledge and approval of the Chief Judge of the respective state or Federal High Court as the case may be.”
Meanwhile, the CJN remarked that the new SANs have, in all ramifications and by all standards, excelled in the practice of law and subsequently conferred with the rank.
He equally used the opportunity to lament the setback caused by the protracted strike by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), saying it came with excruciating impact on the smooth dispensation of justice.
In his own remarks, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), described the conferment of SANship as privileges.
Malami, who praised the judiciary, noted that the arm of government has continued to complement other arms of government inspite of emerging challenges foisted on it by COVID-19, insecurity and dwindling economy, adding that the judiciary has helped in the preservation of the country’s hard earned democracy.
“I want to state categorically that the LPPC have done a good job by putting forward deserving and qualifying lawyers. They must ensure that due process is followed in subsequent selection,” Malami added.