The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has condemned the recent attack on Justice Mary Peter-Odili’s residence in Abuja on account of her presiding over the Bayelsa State governorship election judgement that nullified David Lyon’s victory.It urged the Federal Government to speak up on what it described as “a despicable incident” and unmask the mob and their paymasters to save the country and the rule of law from total collapse.
In a statement issued yesterday by its President, Paul Usoro (SAN), it described the attack as an attempt to intimidate, not only Justice Peter-Odili, a justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, but the entire judiciary.
“The attack amounted to a statement by the paymasters of the mob that they are prepared and able to move violently against any judicial officer or panel of judicial officers, who enter judgement in any matter against their interest.
“It is a further step towards total dismantling of the independence of our judiciary. The paymasters of the mob are serving notice on all judicial officers that they must, at all times, second-guess their wishes and tailor their judgments, rulings and decisions in conformance thereto, failing which there may be disastrous consequences, including but not limited to organised mob actions.”
The Guardian recalled that following the February 13 Supreme Court judgement that sacked All Progressives Congress (APC) and its governorship candidate over forged certificate by the deputy governorship candidate, an angry mob had invaded the Abuja residence of Justice Peter-Odili the following day.
NBA, however, flayed the executive arm of government for failing to issue a statement against the invasion, saying, “Even more disconcerting is the silence of the executive arm of government.
“We single out the executive because it controls all the security and intelligence agencies and has the capacity to fish out not only the members of the mob that laid siege to Justice Peter-Odili’s residence, but also their sponsors.“When the executive branch keeps mum over such infraction and debasement of the judiciary, it gives us cause for concern. Worse, it gives the impression of complicity by powerful men in authority.”
It also argued that the attack was a collective attack on all Nigerians, as it amounted to flagrant erosion of the rule of law, adding, “This is a road that leads to anarchy and system collapse. In any judicial decision, there must be winners and losers.“To comprehend the abyss to which we are descending, it is worth reflecting on where the nation will end up, if all losers in judicial decisions were to rent their crowds with threatening posters and descend on residences of judicial officers.”
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