‘Count me out of your political bias’, Odili tells social media bullies

Ogunsakin Mustapha
9 Min Read
Justice Mary Odili(rtd)

The Chairman, Body of Benchers (BoB) Justice Mary Odili(rtd) on Tuesday cleared the air on the speech she made on September 1 advising litigants before the Election Petition Tribunals across the country not to bring down the roof of the country, saying her speech was directed at all political parties.

Justice Odili had the colloquium to mark the 25th anniversary of Chief Joe Kyari SAN advised politicians and their parties that lost in the last general elections not to destabilize the country by their statements and comments, particularly on the social media, warning that if the roof of the country falls, it will fall on everyone.

In attendance at the meeting was Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN, the immediate past Chairman of the Body of Benchers, who delivered the lecture at the event; and Prince Lateef Fagbemi SAN, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, and other dignitaries. Odili had acknowledged them as appropriate in such gatherings. However, some people had taken to social media to bully, and threaten  her over the advice she offered.

However, in a reaction signed by her Media Assistance, Chief Felix Enebeli, Justice Odili described those who attempted to misconstrue her advice as ‘mischievous conflict entrepreneurs’ determined to force her speech to fit their jaundiced narratives and political nuances.

The statement reads: 

JUSTICE MARY ODILI’S ADVICE AT THE COLLOQUIUM TO MARK

CHIEF JOE K. GADZAMA’S 25TH ANNIVERSARY  AS A Senior Advocate of Nigeria IS TO ALL NIGERIANS AND NOT TO ANY POLITICAL PARTY OR PERSON.

Our attention has been drawn to the unfortunate skewed social media interpretation inflicted upon the innocuous speech made by Hon. Justice Mary Odili CFR, retired Justice of the Supreme Court, during the colloquium organized in Abuja on Friday 1st September, 2023 to mark the 25th anniversary of Chief Joe Kyari Gadzama as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria. The event was themed: “The Nigeria of our Dreams: A Call to the Patriots”. Since then, some mischievous conflict entrepreneurs have been hosting comments from persons determined to force her speech to fit jaundiced narratives and political nuances. Justice Mary Odili spoke like one “who saw something and said something” without minding whose ox is gored.

In her speech, the learned retired Jurist acknowledged that the 2023 general elections “generated a storm” and advised all those who were not declared victorious in the elections to toe the line of legality and follow the rules of law, in expressing their dissatisfaction through appropriate channels and not “pull down the roof of the nation” because of its far-reaching consequences on every one, including all agitators, regardless of what side of the fence they found themselves. Surely, this is common sense advice.

Justice Mary Odili(rtd)

It is emphasized that there is nothing in the comments  that suggested a reference to those who lost in any particular election in any state or region. The 2023 general elections were in four categories: the State Houses of Assembly, Governorship, National Assembly, and Presidential elections. Moreso, the lawyers who attended the events, especially the named ones, were called upon, in their professional capacity, to find solutions to the challenges facing the 2023 elections irrespective of their leanings. Wole Olanipekun SAN is the immediate past Chairman, Body of Benchers who handed over to Justice Mary Odili. Lateef Fagbemi SAN is the Hon. Attorney General and Minister of Justice of Nigeria and the Host J. K. Gadzama SAN is a known lawyer who has done several cases for the PDP. These lawyers are globally acknowledged as strong in litigation. The several other lawyers in attendance are possibly handling various cases for politicians. The unprovoked vituperations are a sad reflection of the reason for the cautionary comments of Justice Mary Odili, and the vain struggle to give it momentum to political gains is unhelpful.

For the records, we have reproduced here the crucial parts of her speech on that day for the avoidance of doubts and for public knowledge. 

“This colloquium and book launch in honour of Chief Joe Kyari Gadzama upon the attainment of 25 years as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria is an epochal achievement. It is no doubt appropriate that the theme is ‘The Nigeria of our Dreams, A Call to the Patriots’. I say so in the light of the prevailing situation in Nigeria as a result of the 2023 general elections which has generated a lot of storms, necessitating the conversation which we are about to indulge in, as there seems to be moves to throw the nation into chaos or conflagration. This may be brought about by some individuals and groups who, fanning the embers of hatred, bigotry, and tribalism, fail to see the possible outcomes of the utterances without caution that are being thrown around.

It is human to feel cheated or having the short end of the stick by one who is not declared the winner at any of the electoral contests. Such emotion, however grim, does not justify bringing the roof down, the roof of our nation. The reason is simple, that in such an eventuality, that aggrieved person may not be spared, as the commotion that could ensue would be like an unguided missile which could land anywhere and upon anyone.

Therefore, in ventilating our points of view and facts at the electoral tribunals or other courts, a sense of responsibility from all parties is demanded. The situation does not call for the blackmail of the judges or the posting of speculatory hypotheses, giving them such a life of their own which runs riot and is accepted by the hapless and innocent in the society as the truth.

Knowing the quality of participants at this colloquium and I am happy, professionals, those who are well equipped in litigation matters or electoral disputes – Chief Olanipekun is a master, and our Attorney General recently sworn in. These are experts. I am confident that having such persons here including our Chief Host, Chief J.K Gadzama SAN, there is confidence that at the end of the day, a resetting of the mind would be taking place and we would keep things in perspective in the full knowledge that elections are seasonal and litigations relating thereto … and so when the seasons are gone, the courts get back to their natural and regular duties of adjudication regarding the affairs and rights of all persons, irrespective of their status in life. 

J.K. Gadzama SAN has called us to this discourse, lest we forget our past, the recent happenings in our country and the need for a restoration of the ethos and the values for which the founding fathers have set in motion as guides to all of us, young and old, irrespective of the positions we occupy in the society. We all have to get our acts together and rebuild our nation”.

The public may now be guided as to the comments now attempted to be twisted.

Regardless of the fact that Hon. Justice Mary Odili (who is a retired Justice and is free to express her views like any other person), the mischievous efforts to apply a wicked twist of bias, championed by the same persons who are bullying the judiciary and threatening to pull down the roof without recourse to due process, fall flat.

Thank you.

Chief Felix Enebeli

Media Assistant to Hon Justice Mary Ukaego Peter-Odili (Rtd.)

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