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Intrigues as police parade 14 alleged invaders of Odili’s home

By Odita Sunday (Abuja), Ann Godwin (Port Harcourt) and Ngozi Egenuka (Lagos)
12 November 2021   |   4:30 am
The drama trailing invasion of the Abuja residence of Supreme Court Justice, Mary Odili, received a fresh twist, yesterday, as the Nigeria Police Force announced it arrested 14 persons allegedly responsible for the act.

Suspected invaders of Justice Mary Odili’s home being paraded by the police in Abuja…yesterday. PHOTO: LUCY LADIDI ATEKO<br />

• Say journalist, lawyer, police officer, soldiers among suspects
• AGF tackles fake consultant as ThisDay disowns editor
• FG bullying judiciary to instill fear ahead of 2023 elections, Wike alleges

The drama trailing invasion of the Abuja residence of Supreme Court Justice, Mary Odili, received a fresh twist, yesterday, as the Nigeria Police Force announced it arrested 14 persons allegedly responsible for the act.

Mrs Odili is the wife of Peter Odili, a former governor of Rivers State, who has been having a running battle with the anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The October 29 invasion had drawn fiery condemnations, accusations, counter-accusations, conspiracy theories and denials, with some Nigerians insisting the Presidency, Inspector General of Police (IGP) and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) were complicit.

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State had given the Federal Government a 48-hour ultimatum to get the perpetrators, claiming that the incident was an assassination attempt.

But parading the suspects, yesterday, police spokesman, CP Frank Mba, revealed that the alleged perpetrators consisted of persons drawn from the police, military, journalism, civil service and the legal profession. He disclosed that seven of the suspects, including two soldiers, were at large, even as he vowed that all suspects at large would be apprehended.

Mba described the leader of the illegal operation as fake Chief Superintendent of Police Lawrence Ajodo.

According to him, the suspects were loose canons and document forgers running their criminal enterprises, and had not been hired by any personnel from the Ministry of Justice.

One Stanley Nkwazema, a supposed journalist, was also part of the syndicate.

Mba said: “This feat was achieved following the subsequent order of investigation into the incident by the IGP, Usman Alkali Baba. The AGF and Minister of Justice had also submitted a written petition to the office of the IGP, requesting a robust and discreet investigation into the matter, with the aim of unraveling the identities of the persons involved, their motive and perhaps, the authorities, if any, behind them.”

The search warrant used in breaching the residence of Odili was said to have been granted to Ajodo, who confessed: “I forged the Minister’s signature. I am not a police officer. The Minister did not sign my identity card. I am a consultant. The Minister did not send me on this illegal assignment.”

Commending the resilience and resistance of the security agents attached to the justice’s house on the day of the incident for not allowing the suspects access to the building, the police spokesperson said it could have been the greatest embarrassment to the nation if the operation had succeeded.

Also, one of the whistle blowers and a spiritualist, Aliu Umar, claimed he received a revelation that foreign currencies were being laundered at the residence; hence he showed Odili’s home to the team.

BUT the AGF, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, said he would never stoop so low in “engaging a quack or fake police officer to serve as his consultant.”

The statement reads: “The attention of the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice has been drawn to a confession of a suspect during interrogation in the investigation of the recent invasion of the residence of the highly respected Justice of the Supreme Court; Justice Mary Peter Odili.

“With all the competent, high level professionals and capable human resources available at the disposal of the AGF, it only takes the imagination of the evil minds to assume or think that the Attorney General will descend so low to engaging a quack or fake police officer to serve as his consultant.

“This is a case of a drowning man scavenging for a dying partner. We are happy to note that investigation has commenced to unravel the circumstances and personalities behind the invasion and sponsored campaign of calumny against the AGF.”

It continues: “Consultant for what? Which activity or assignment? When was he engaged? What were the terms of references for the alleged consultancy service? When was he engaged? Where was he engaged? Which work has he executed for the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and the Ministry of Justice? What duration? For how much?

“We boldly and unequivocally challenge the fake consultant/police officer to come out with answers or responses to these questions to the general public.”

SIMILARLY, the management of ThisDay has reacted to news making the rounds that Nkwazema claimed to be its member of staff and contributing editor. In a statement, yesterday, Managing Editor (Print/Digital), Bolaji Adebiyi, said:
“Contrary to his claim, Mr. Nkwazema is neither a staff of ThisDay nor a contributing editor. He was a sports correspondent and resigned more than 15 years ago.”

It reads: “However, occasionally, he, like hundreds of other readers of the newspaper, sends for publication articles and analyses and is usually obliged, a privilege ThisDay gives to some of its ex-staff. That does not in any way make him a staff and contributing editor of ThisDay.

“Since his resignation, ThisDay had at no time contracted Mr. Nkwazema to investigate any story, and we know nothing of his alleged investigation of a story leading to the raid of the residence of Justice Odili.

“The police authorities and the general public should, therefore, note that Mr. Nkwazema, whatever may be his involvement in this matter, was not acting on behalf of ThisDay in any shape or form.”

MEANWHILE, Governor Wike has alleged that the Federal Government is bullying the judiciary to instill fear on judges ahead of the 2023 elections. He stated this at a special court session to mark the opening of the 2021/2022 Legal Year of the Rivers State Judiciary, held at the Chief Judge’s Ceremonial Court, Port Harcourt, yesterday.

Wike said: “Although it is still early morning in our democratic march towards 2023, the attack on Justice Mary Odili is a prelude to many more and even worse political manoeuvrings we should be prepared to experience from the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government, which, having lost relevance and popular support, is becoming more and more desperate over its dwindling political fortunes by the day.”

He commended leaders of the Nigerian Bar Association, Body of Senior Advocates, Chief Justice of Nigeria and members of the public for promptly condemning the siege on the judiciary.

He urged them to move quickly beyond verbal protestations to unveil those behind the invasion and ensure they are held to account.