SERAP petitions United Nations over assault on Justice Mary Odili
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has petitioned the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Mr. Diego García-Sayán, urging him to pressure the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to conduct a credible, thorough, impartial, independent, transparent, and effective investigation into the assault on Supreme Court Justice Mary Odili by rogue officials.
The body urged him to ask the Nigerian government to ensure that any investigation into the incident is based on human rights principles, and protected from undue influence. Also, the outcome of the investigation must be made public, and the suspected perpetrators and their sponsors brought to justice.
SERAP’s petition followed the recent invasion of Justice Odili’s Abuja residence by armed personnel.
In the petition dated November 13, 2021 and signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said the intimidation and harassment of Odili is a flagrant assault on judicial independence, apparently aimed at further weakening judicial independence and the rule of law in Nigeria.
It said: “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.”
According to SERAP, 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 body further urged García-Sayán 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 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 noted that an international investigation into 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.
“If not urgently addressed, the attacks, intimidation and harassment of the judiciary may render judges unable to defend the rule of law, provide accountability for the many gross human rights violations in the country, or protect the rights of Nigerian people.”
“Nigerian authorities have a legal obligation to take measures to protect the independence of the judiciary and ensure the safety and security of individual judges,” SERAP said.