SERAP Petitions UN Over ‘Vicious Assault’ On Justice Mary Odili, Seeks Independent Probe Of Incident

Group has urged Mr. Diego García-Sayán, UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, to “put pressure on the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to conduct a credible, thorough, impartial, independent, transparent, and effective investigation into the vicious assault on Supreme Court Justice Mary Odili by rogue officials”.

The group urged him to “ask the Nigerian government to ensure that any investigation into the assault is based on human rights principles, and protected from undue influence

SERAP petition followed the recent invasion of Justice Odili’s Abuja residence by armed personnel.

“The intimidation and harassment of Justice Odili is a flagrant assault on judicial independence, and apparently aimed at further weakening judicial independence and the rule of law in Nigeria.

According to them, “The current investigation by the Nigerian police fails to meet international standards, as it is neither independent nor effective. As such, the investigation is incapable of identifying all the suspected perpetrators and their sponsors, and credibly delivering justice in the matter.”

“The unconscionable attacks against Nigerian judges would seem to be a deliberate attempt by the authorities to exert pressure on the judiciary and undermine its independence and authority. These attacks are putting Nigerians’ freedoms at risk.

The invasion of Justice Odili’s residence is not an isolated incident. There have been several violations of judicial independence and the rule of law in the country.

“In 2016, for example, Nigerian authorities reportedly invaded in the middle of the night the homes of some judges of the Federal High Court and Justices of the Supreme Court.

“The authorities have so far failed and/or refused to identify those suspected to be responsible and to bring them to justice,” it added.

The group, in the petition, therefore urged the UN Special Rapporteur to “push for the adoption of a resolution by the Human Rights Council to establish an international, independent, and impartial investigative mechanism into the attack on Justice Odili, and other unresolved cases of intimidation and harassment of the judiciary, and assault on the rule of law in Nigeria since May 29 2015”.

It continued, “An international investigation into the cases of intimidation and harassment of judges in Nigeria will meet the highest international standards and best practices, and assist the Nigerian authorities to take steps to improve respect for the independence of the judiciary, the rule of law, and access to justice for victims of human rights.

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