Nigerian govt dragged to UN Court over invasion of Justice Odili’s home

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has reported the October 29 invasion of the Abuja home of Supreme Court judge, Justice Mary Odili, to the United Nations.

WITHIN NIGERIA recalls that Security agents comprising soldiers and police operatives had on October 29 stormed the judge’s home located in the Maitama area of Abuja with a search warrant over alleged illegal activities in the building.

Police paraded 14 suspects arrested in connection with the incident last week.

In a petition dated November 13, 2021, and signed by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP asked the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Mr. Diego García-Sayán, to put pressure on the Federal Government to “conduct a credible, thorough, impartial, independent, transparent, and effective investigation into the vicious assault on Justice Odili by rogue officials.”

The petition read: “We urge you to push for the adoption of a resolution by the Human Rights Council to establish an international, independent, and impartial investigative mechanism into the attack on Justice Odili, and other unresolved cases of intimidation and harassment of the judiciary, and assault on the rule of law in Nigeria since May 29, 2015.

“An international investigation into the cases of intimidation and harassment of judges in Nigeria will meet the highest international standards and best practices, and assist the Nigerian authorities to take steps to improve respect for the independence of the judiciary, the rule of law, and access to justice for victims of human rights.

“If not urgently addressed, the attacks, intimidation, and harassment of the judiciary may render judges unable to defend the rule of law, to provide accountability for the many gross human rights violations in the country, or to protect the rights of the Nigerian people.

“Nigerian authorities have a legal obligation to take measures to protect the independence of the judiciary, and ensure the safety and security of individual judges.

“SERAP urges you to visit Nigeria to carry out a mission to investigate cases of intimidation and harassment of judges, assess the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law, and continue to monitor the situation.

“While the Nigerian authorities have arrested some of the suspected perpetrators, at least ten more persons reportedly involved in the assault on Justice Odili are still at large.

“The attack on Justice Odili is not an isolated incident. There have been several violations of judicial independence and the rule of law in the country. In 2016, for example, Nigerian authorities reportedly invaded in the middle of the night the homes of some judges of the Federal High Court and Justices of the Supreme Court.

“The authorities have so far failed and/or refused to identify those suspected to be responsible and to bring them to justice.

“An independent judiciary is essential to the protection of human rights and respect for the rule of law. The principles of independence are the hallmarks of the rationale and the legitimacy of the judicial function in every State. Their absence leads to a denial of justice and makes the credibility of the judicial process dubious.”

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