As Ozekhome infers siege meant to embarrass Odilis, asks FG to apologise

 

Abiodun OBA

 

The search warrant earlier issued by the Chief Magistrate, Emmanuel Iyanna, in favour of Joint Panel Recovery, Ministry of Justice, against House 9, Imo Street, Maitama, Abuja, was Friday night, revoked.

The order read: “Upon misrepresentation to this honourable court that led to the issuance of a search warrant in favour of Joint Panel Recovery, Ministry of Justice, against House 9, Imo Street, Maitama, Abuja, dated October 29, 2021. In view of the above fact, the said search warrant is hereby revoked.”

A whistleblower had allegedly triggered the police raid of Justice Mary Odili’s home in Abuja on Friday, according to latest reports.

The whistleblower identified as Aliyu Umar swore to an affidavit at an Abuja magistrate’s court on 13 October, alleging “illegal activities going on at No. 9, Imo Street, Maitama, Abuja”.

“I have observed some illegal activities going on in those houses within Abuja are illegal and hereby report the said matter to the law enforcement agency.

“I hereby state that all information provided by me to the EFCC is true and correct to the best of my knowledge,” Umar stated in the affidavit.

The Chief Magistrate, Emmanuel Iyanna, subsequently approved the search warrant on October 29, based on another affidavit by a senior police officer, CSP Lawrence Ajodo, seeking a warrant to search the house.

It was unclear why the affidavit meant for the EFCC ended up with an inter-government agency, the Joint Panel Recovery unit of the Federal Ministry of Justice.

The panel comprises the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Nigeria Police Force and the Ministry of Justice.

On its part, the EFCC has denied that its operatives were not involved in the raid of Justice Odili’s home.

The justice reportedly resisted the attempts by the policemen to search her house, insisting that the house belonged to her and not her husband, former Governor Peter Odili.

Peter Odili, who ruled Rivers between 1999 and 2007 was in the crosshairs of the security, when his passport was seized at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport.

He challenged the seizure successfully.

AGF distances self, orders probe

In a swift reaction, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), on Saturday distanced himself from the reported invasion and ordered a probe into the circumstances surrounding the raid of the justice’s home.

A statement by his Special Assistant, Media and Public Relations, Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, said the clarification became imperative in view of the media hype and the dimension the story had taken.

He said, “It is important to set the record straight that as the Chief Law Officer of the federation, Malami will not stoop too low to be associated with an apparent in-elegant and nasty court process on the strength of which the purported search warrant was procured.

“The media reports on the issue depict too untidy process that could never emanate from the Office of the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.”

He said the general public needs to know that there was nothing called Joint Panel Recovery Under the Ministry of Justice in the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, and by extension the entire Federal Ministry of Justice.

According to the statement, what the ministry has is the Inter-ministerial Committee on Assets Recovery and its mandate does not include stings operations.

The statement further read, “The Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice has since reached out to the relevant authorities for an intensified wider investigation on the matter for necessary actions leading to the prosecution of anyone involved in the matter in view of the fact that the only names on record from the process filed in Court are a purported police officer who claimed to be “O/C Assets Recovery Team” and one Aliyu Umar a deponent in the affidavit.

“The claim of the Chief Magistrate as reported by a section of the media to the effect that he was being misled by office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice into the issuance of the search warrant is equally forwarded to the relevant investigation agencies to ascertain veracity or otherwise of the purported association of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice and which officer if any in the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice is associated with such claimed misrepresentation.”

Ozekhome

However, Mike Ozekhome, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, described the siege on the home of a Supreme Court Justice, Mary Odili, as a ploy to embarrass her family.

The lawyer spoke to Channels Television after security operatives supposedly attached to the Ministry of Justice tried to gain entry into Justice’s home in Abuja on Friday.

Ozekhome, who faulted the details of the warrant, said the Federal Government should issue an apology for the embarrassment.

“The search warrant did not carry any name, of any person. It didn’t say Justice Mary Peter Odili. It didn’t say the husband, Dr Peter Odili. It just said, number 9, Imo Street,” Ozekhome said.

“Meanwhile, the very address of Justice Odili is not number 9, Imo street. Who were the persons, they did not put a single name? What address? You got the wrong address.

“So there is this theory that it could have been a clear case of genuine mistaken identity. I only hope so.

“But the other theory, which I seem to want to believe more, because of the activities and antecedents of this government, is that it was politically motivated.

“So I believe it was done to embarrass them. But for whatever it was done, it was a shame to this country. If they now find that it was an erroneous entry or that it was a mistake, let them do Nigerians and Nigeria the minimal of saying ‘we are sorry, we made an honest mistake’. And heavens will not fall, and they will be applauded for it.

“But let them not always pretend that all is well, even after causing great embarrassment.”

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