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Attack on Justice Odili; An Imprisonment of the Rule of Law – NBA


The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has called the attack on Honourable Justice Odili of the Supreme Court an unwarranted attack on the independence of the judiciary which amounts to the imprisonment of the Rule of Law.

The above is contained in a statement issued by the President of the NBA, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN condemning the attack.

A crowd of protesters had gathered in front of Justice Odili’s Abuja residence after the Supreme Court delivered a unanimous judgement for the Appellant in the suit  with Appeal No. SC.1/2020: Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) & 2 others v Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo & 3 others – Bayelsa Governorship election appeal;  Justice Odili as the most senior justice of the Supreme Court in the Panel presided over the hearing of the Appeal making her the target of the mob attack.

In his statement, the President of the NBA wondered if the attackers did not realize that Justice Odili is not capable of influencing the decision of the other Justices of the Apex Court.

“And just before concluding, the mob and their paymasters need to know that the Presiding Justice of any Panel, be it the Supreme Court or Court of Appeal Panel, has no coercive power over the other members of the panel. He or she is only the first amongst equals and, as in the Bayelsa Judgment, she may not even be the one who reads the lead judgment of the Court. The Justices in the Panel are all independent-minded jurists who enter judgment according to how they individually see and understand the case or appeal, based on the facts before them, guided only by the need to dispense justice to all men without fear or favor. It is futile and indeed irresponsible to attack the Presiding Justice of the Panel or indeed any Justice on account of the decision of the Court. That is an unwarranted attack on the independence of the judiciary and amounts to the imprisonment of the Rule of Law.”

Mr. Usoro earlier noted in the statement that the attack is nothing but an attempt to intimidate the entire Nigerian judiciary.

“That incident is nothing but an attempt to intimidate not only Peter-Odili JSC but the entire Nigerian judiciary. It amounts to a statement by the paymasters of the mob that they are prepared and able to move violently against any judicial officer or a panel of judicial officers who enter judgment in any matter against their perceived interest. It is a further step towards the complete dismantling of the independence of our judiciary. They, the paymasters of the mob, are serving notice on all judicial officers that they, the judicial officers, must, at all times second-guess the wishes of the mob paymasters and tailor their judgments, rulings and decisions in conformance thereto, failing which, there may be disastrous consequences including but not limited to organized mob actions.”

He expressed concern over the Federal Government silence since the incident and demands that those involved in the process must be brought to book.

“The Nigerian Bar Association (“NBA”) has not seen nor read any official statement from the Executive Branch of the Federal Government of Nigeria (“FGN”) on the egregious invasion of the Abuja residence of Honorable Justice Mary PeterOdili, Justice of the Supreme Court, on Friday, 14 and Tuesday, 18 February 2020 by an unruly and obviously hired mob carrying placards ostensibly protesting the judgment of the Supreme Court that was delivered on Thursday, 13 February 2020 in Appeal No. SC.1/2020: Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) & 2 others v Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo & 3 others (“Bayelsa Appeal” or “Bayelsa Judgment”). If the Executive Branch of the FGN has made any comment on it, its statement must have been so muffled and muted that it was entirely inaudible. And that is most unfortunate.

“The NBA calls on the FGN to speak up on this despicable incident and to unmask
the members of the mob that invaded the Abuja home of Honorable Justice Mary
Peter-Odili, JSC and their paymasters/promoters.”

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