Operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) on Friday evening stormed the Maitama, Abuja home of Supreme Court Justice, Justice Mary Odili.
The operatives, according to sources, went to the home of Justice Odili in company of policemen to execute a search warrant on her husband, Dr Peter Odili, a former governor of Rivers State.
Dr Odili has had a running battle with EFCC for years, particularly under the chairmanship of Nuhu Ribadu, when a court barred the anti graft commission from investigating the former governor.
Not done, EFCC in early 2021, in collaboration with the Nigerian Immigration Service(NIS) seized the International Passport of Dr Odili. He went before a Federal High Court, Abuja to challenge the seizure. In its response, however, the NIS said it was the EFCC that asked it to seize Odili’s passport as part of a probe.
In a judgment on October 18, 2021, the trial judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo noted that the court judgment of March 5, 2008 in which an order of perpetual injunction was granted against EFCC, prohibiting the anti-graft agency from investigating Odili on the activities of Rivers State government between 1999 and 2007 when he held sway as the executive governor.
The Judge held that until the order is voided and set aside by a competent court of records, the order remains binding on EFCC, its operatives and agents. With the existing valid order of 2008, the judge said that the Immigration Service lacked validity on what it did and that its action is contemptuous and should not be allowed to stand.
He therefore found the seizure of the applicant’s International passport to be wrongful, illegal, contemptuous, arbitrary and above all unconstitutional.
“From the evidence which has not been controverted in this case, the seizure of the applicant’s passport upon his return from his medical trip was done in a manner that dehumanized, belittled, harassed and derided him.
“Declaration is hereby made that the seizure of the applicant’s international passport without any reason is illegal and constitute an infringement on his fundamental human rights to freedom of movement and to own moveable property as guaranteed under sections 41 and 44 of the 1999 constitution.
“An order is hereby made directing the respondents to immediately release and return the applicant’s international passport.
“The action of immigration in this matter is condemnable as it is made in violation and disobedience to valid order of court.”
While ordering that the passport with numbers B5003305 be immediately returned to the former governor, Justice Ekwo ordered Immigration to tender an apology to Odili in writing for the embarrassment caused by the seizure of his passport.
Justice Ekwo thereafter granted an order of perpetual injunction against Immigration restraining it and its agents from harassing, intimidating or infringing on the fundamental rights of Odili to freedom of movement inside or outside Nigeria.
Also this is not the first time security operatives will storm the home of judges under the present administration.
On October 7, 2016, the residences of two Supreme Court Justices: Justices Walter Onnoghen and Sylvester Ngwuta – as well as two judges of the Federal High Court, Justices Adeniyi Ademola and Nnamdi Dimgba, were invaded by operatives of the Department of State Services, DSS
It was gathered that the raid occurred between Friday night and Saturday morning as the operatives surrounded their houses before breaking in at ungodly hour of 1.00am on Saturday.
After the raid, Justice Ademola was whisked away at about 5am. During the operation, a brother to Justice Dimgba was allegedly beating.
Both Justice Onnoghen and Justice Ngwuta stay at the Judicial Officers’ Quarters in Abuja, while Justices Ademola and Dimgba reside at the Apo Legislative Quarters, Abuja.
At the end, only Justice Ademola was indicted and dmissed from service.