The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has condemned the invasion of the residence of Mary Odili, a judge of the supreme court, by protesters.
Following the Bayelsa state judgement, some protesters had besieged the Abuja residence of Odili, accusing her of influencing the ruling in favour of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The apex court had sacked David Lyon, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), on the grounds that his running mate in the November election presented forged documents to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
In a statement, Paul Usoro, president of NBA, described the protesters as “an unruly and obviously hired mob”.
He described the protest as an attempt to intimidate the judiciary, adding that it shows that the paymasters of the mob are “able to move violently against any judicial officer that enters a judgement against their perceived interest”.
“If the Executive Branch of the FGN has made any comment on it, its statement must have been so muffled and muted that it was entirely inaudible. And that is most unfortunate,” he said.
“That incident is nothing but an attempt to intimidate not only Peter-Odili JSC but the entire Nigerian judiciary.
“It is a further step towards the complete dismantling of the independence of our judiciary. They, the paymasters of the mob, are serving notice on all judicial officers that they, the judicial officers, must, at all times second-guess the wishes of the mob paymasters and tailor their judgments, rulings and decisions in conformance thereto, failing which, there may be disastrous consequences including but not limited to organized mob actions.”
Usoro said it was disheartening that “disgruntled individuals” could organise a mob to descend on a judicial officer at his or her residence because of a judgment that was delivered and was perceived to be unfavorable to the organisers and promoters of the mob.
“When the Executive Branch keeps mum over such grave infraction and blatant debasement of our judicial institution, it gives us cause for concern. Worse, it gives the, possibly, unintended impression of complicity by powerful men in authority,” he said.
“To comprehend the abyss to which we are descending, it is worth reflecting on where we would all end up if all losers in judicial decisions were, henceforth, to rent their respective crowds with threatening posters and descend on the residences of the ‘culpable’ judicial officers.
“What would become of our justice system let alone our governance system and social contract?
“Our judicial officers must be allowed their freedom of thoughts and opinion in the determination of cases and appeals before them. They must not be subjected to any form of intimidation or embarrassment.
“The Executive Branch of the FGN owes us a duty to protect the independence of our judiciary and prevent the erosion of the Rule of Law.”