The home of Justice (Mrs) Mary Odili, one of the judges of the Nigerian Supreme Court was this evening Friday 29 October stormed by Nigerian security forces.
Mary Odili is also the wife of a former governor of Rivers State, Chief Peter Odili – a chieftain of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party.
The purpose of the raid, carried out by a joint team of police and military personnel headed by a Major, is still unclear.
The fully armed security operatives were said to have come with a “search warrant” but it curiously had no name on it and was addressed for #9 Imo Street, Maitama, Abuja. The Odili’s residence is #7 Imo River Street, Maitama, Abuja.
They left the judge’s home after about an hour.
Justice Odili has not been sighted so far, sparking fears about her safety.
Abuja Chief Magistrate, Emmanuel Iyanna who issued the search warrant has reportedly revoked it, saying the government misled him into issuing the warrant.
Several high-profile political leaders who are in Abuja for Saturday’s controversial and highly anticipated party convention of the PDP, including the incumbent governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, quickly made their way to the home of the Odili’s in solidarity.
This raid happened only hours after the opposition PDP got clearance from the federal appellate court to go ahead with their conventions which holds tomorrow at Eagle Square, Abuja.
Public condemnation on social media followed the news of the operation with many speculating mistaken identity, political motivation and one witness going as far as suspecting possible assassination attempt.
The Economic & Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) which has Chief Peter Odili on its watchlist, and the Department of State Security (DSS) both denied involvement or knowledge of the raid.
EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, in a quick disclaimer said, “If there was any such operation as claimed by the media, it was not carried out by the EFCC. The commission enjoins the public to discountenance the report.”
No word yet from the Nigerian Police Force or the Nigerian Army on the incident.
Addressing journalists as the events unfolded, Nigerian foremost constitutional lawyer Mike Ozokhome, said it was sad that under the current regime of President Buhari Nigeria was slipping “towards the precipice of calling ourselves a banana republic”.
Mary Odili was born in Mbaise, Imo State and is the second most senior of the supreme court justices.
This is not the first time top judges in Nigeria has come under similar raids under President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
In the same October of 2016, homes of several judges across the country including Justices Sylvester Ngwuta and John Okoro of the Supreme Court, and Judge Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court Abuja were raided in a so-called “anti-corruption war” which got the Nigerian civil and legal communities outraged.
Nigeria’s ex-Chief Justice, Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen who hails from Cross River State was also dismissed from his job in 2018 in a disputed process in the lead up to the 2019 general election. His position was taken over by Tanko Mohammed, a Sharia-trained lawyer from Bauchi State. The court eventually handed down victory to Buhari after the opposition challenged his electoral victory at the polls.