Nigeria

Nigerian government arraigns 15 ‘invaders’ of Supreme Court judge’s residence

Justice I.M. Sani of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State has convicted and sentenced two false whistle blowers- Dominic Okem and Chukwunonso Igweonu, to two months imprisonment each for conspiracy and giving false information

The Federal Government, on Wednesday, produced 15 suspected invaders of the Supreme Court judge, Mary Odili, for arraignment at the Federal High Court, Abuja.

The suspects were led into Court 11 by the operatives of the Nigerian Police Force from the Force Headquarters at about 1:40 p.m. where they will be arraigned before Nkeonye Maha.

Newsmen report that police authorities had, on November 11, paraded 15 suspects over the invasion of the Abuja residence of Mrs Odili, who is currently the second most senior judge of the Supreme Court, describing them as impostors unknown to any of the nation’s security forces.

Parading the suspects at the Force Headquarters Annex, Abuja, police spokesperson, Frank Mba, said the 14 suspects include a fake Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), Lawrence Ajojo.

He said the suspects, and seven others at large, conspired to raid the residence following information that the Supreme Court judge was keeping a large sum of money in foreign currencies.

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According to Mr Mba, the seven suspects still at large include two soldiers.

He said the suspects involved in the criminal acts came from different professional backgrounds such as journalism, banking, law enforcement and law.

He said the syndicate, including one Stanley Nkwazema, a journalist, “were loose canons and document forgers who were on their own and not hired by any personnel of the Ministry of Justice”.

Mrs Odili’s residence at 7, Imo Street, Maitama, Abuja, was, on October 29, allegedly invaded by armed security operatives on the grounds of an alleged tip-off by a whistleblower, Aliyu Umar, who claimed to have observed suspicious activities at the residence.

An Abuja Chief Magistrate, Emmanuel Iyanna, was said to have issued a search warrant to a body identified as the Joint Panel Recovery Unit in the Ministry of Justice, leading to the invasion of Odili’s home.

The magistrate later revoked the order, saying he was misled while the police and other security agencies also said they were not aware of the raid.

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However, the police commended the resistance put up by the security personnel attached to Mrs Odili’s residence for not allowing the suspects access to the building, saying that it could have been the greatest embarrassment to the nation if the operation had succeeded.

The siege had drawn condemnation from many Nigerians and several interest groups, including the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), the Supreme Court, National Assembly, several state governors, civil society organisations, among others.

The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, SAN, and the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, had separately denied authorising the raid or knowledge of it.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the State Security Services (DSS), both of which were also linked to the invasion, had denied involvement.

As of the time of filing the report, the court was yet to begin sitting.

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