The pioneer Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Section on Public Interest and Development Law (SPIDEL), Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama (SAN) has urged the Federal Government to fish out and punish all those found culpable in the controversial raid on the residence of Justice Mary Odili of the Supreme Court.
In a statement made available to CITY LAWYER, Gadzama condemned “in very strong terms, the raid on the residence of Honourable Justice Mary Peter Odili, JSC, and make bold to aver that it is a siege on the sanctity of our nation’s judiciary, rule of law and the doctrine of judicial independence. This must not be left to go unpunished. I further call for an urgent investigation to help fish-out the perpetrators.”
The chartered arbitrator commended the NBA leadership “for issuing a statement, and with the speed of light too, therein condemning such act of rascality and taking further steps to convene an emergency meeting of the NBA National Executive Committee solely to discuss this issue and take a definitive stand on behalf of the NBA.”
He also praised the Olumide Akpata-led NBA on the successful conduct of the recently concluded Annual General Conference (AGC) in Port Harcourt,
Below are the statements by Gadzama.
STATEMENT OF CHIEF JOE-KYARI GADZAMA, SAN ON THE RAID OF JUSTICE MARY ODILI’S RESIDENCE BY UNIDENTIFIED SECURITY OPERATIVES
1. On Friday, the 29th day of October, 2021, while in Port Harcourt for the Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association, I received with much disappointment the news of the raid on Honourable Justice Mary Peter Odili’s residence. I have waited patiently to read further on the possible justifiable rationale for such gestapo show of might, but all to no avail. It is now more than 48 hours after the said raid and information is still scarce and far in-between as to the rationale for the raid on the residence of the second most senior judicial officer in Nigeria. It is a case of loud deafening silence and a game of blame-game. No one, seems to be claiming responsibility and no one seems to be offering further explanations on who is/was responsible for such dastardly act of rascality and impunity aimed at soiling the garment of our judiciary.
2. These trends of habitual unjustified raids on the residences of Judicial Officers, the concomitant unexplained reasons and continuous rape of due process, spell imminent doom and anarchy if not urgently arrested. Lest our collective silence be misinterpreted as our collective approval, this is a further call that the tenets upon which our society was founded be restored: rule of law. We must take heed to the words of Martin Luther King Jnr, when he said that the “the ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people”. The danger of our silence in the face of apparent injustice and anarchy cannot be overemphasized; it is the utmost form of betrayal.
3. I must therefore commend the Nigerian Bar Association, under the leadership of Olumide Akpata, for issuing a statement, and with the speed of light too, therein condemning such act of rascality and taking further steps to convene an emergency meeting of the NBA National Executive Committee solely to discuss this issue and take a definitive stand on behalf of the NBA. While I commend this initiative, I must emphasize that all must be emphatic that it is gravely unpardonable to assault, trample upon, attempt to intimidate and/ or harass the judiciary which is the last hope of the common man. Indeed, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
4. It is even more abhorrent that the rationale for the present raid on Hon Justice Mary Peter Odili’s residence has not been explained or justified, the incident could therefore only be interpreted as an attack on the Judiciary, possibly designed to intimidate and ridicule the Judiciary.
5. We must remember that Nigeria’s democracy is not made up of only the executive, but the legislature and the judiciary. Borrowing from the words of Caroline Kennedy, which now reflect the needs and realities of our space, “the very bedrock of our democracy is the rule of law and that means we have to have an independent judiciary, judges who can make decisions independent of the political winds that are blowing.” An independent judiciary is indeed the crown jewel of any democracy and Nigeria is no different.
6. As the Pioneer Chairman of the NBA Section on Public Interest and Development Law (SPIDEL) whose commitment is towards maintenance of public law and order, the very fulcrum upon which the society stands and thrives, I condemn, in very strong terms, the raid on the residence of Honourable Justice Mary Peter Odili, JSC, and make bold to aver that it is a siege on the sanctity of our nation’s judiciary, rule of law and the doctrine of judicial independence. This must not be left to go unpunished. I further call for an urgent investigation to help fish-out the perpetrators.
God Bless the NBA,
God Bless the Judiciary,
God Bless Nigeria.
I wish to congratulate us all on the successful conduct of the 61st Annual General Conference of our dear Association, the Nigerian Bar Association.
I must specifically thank the National Officers of our dear Association under the able leadership of our indefatigable President, Mr Olumide Akpata, the TCCP ably led by Mr. Omubo V. Frank-Briggs and the Local Organizing Committee for the exceptional leadership exhibited in ensuring the success of this conference.
This year’s conference is undoubtedly exceptional as it is embedded with so many takeaways that are beneficial to us as members of this profession in our personal and professional lives and as citizens of our dear Country, Nigeria to which we have a duty to serve with all our strength.
It is my wish and prayer that we will all make use of what we have learned at this auspicious conference and help in implementing all the panaceas proffered towards repositioning our great profession and by extension, the Country at large. There is no better time than now to do this.
As we travel to our various destinations to continue taking the lead, I wish us all a pleasant and safe trip back home.
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