Tribunal: Justice Mary Odili’s pre-judgement remarks worrisome – Labour party

The Labour Party has expressed worry over what it described as a preemptive pronouncement by retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Mary Odili, about the upcoming judgement of the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, scheduled for Wednesday, September 5. 

While speaking at a colloquium organized in Abuja to mark the 25th anniversary of Joe Gadzama as a senior advocate of Nigeria, Odili had warned against fanning the embers of hatred, tribalism, and bigotry.

“I say so in the light of the prevailing situation in Nigeria as a result of the 2023 general elections which has generated a lot of storms, necessitating the conversation which we are about to indulge in, as there seems to be moves to throw the nation into chaos or conflagration. This may be brought about by some individuals and groups who, fanning the embers of hatred, bigotry, and tribalism, fail to see the possible outcomes of the utterances without caution that are being thrown around.

It is human to feel cheated or having the short end of the stick by one who is not declared the winner at any of the electoral contests. Such emotion, however grim, does not justify bringing the roof down, the roof of our nation. The reason is simple, that in such an eventuality, that aggrieved person may not be spared, as the commotion that could ensue would be like an unguided missile which could land anywhere and upon anyone. Therefore, in ventilating our points of view and facts at the electoral tribunals or other courts, a sense of responsibility from all parties is demanded. The situation does not call for the blackmail of the judges or the posting of speculatory hypothesis, giving them such a life of their own which runs riot and is accepted by the hapless and innocent in the society as the truth.” she said

In a statement released by its National Publicity Secretary, Obiora Ifoh today September 5, the party said it found it necessary to draw public attention to unfolding developments in the country ahead of Wednesday’s ruling of the PEPC.

“The unguarded statement from the former Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, Justice Mary Odili, in Abuja, last week at a colloquium to mark the 25th anniversary of the elevation of a renowned jurist, JK Gadzama to the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN. And the boasting of some persons, serving Ministers, and notable legislators about the outcome has left our party in shock.

When those who should know the importance of the sanctity of the judiciary descend to the arena of abusing it with their preemptive utterances just to show loyalty and support to their interests, we as a party see this as unfortunate and dangerous to our democratic journey as a nation.

We note also the needless lavish showering of praises on the legal counsels of both APC and Candidate Bola Ahmed Tinubu by the retired Justice when the gathering was not theirs.

We find this extremely undignified of a renowned jurist who rose to the peak of her career in the country’s Apex court and who as the  Chairperson of the body of benchers, should be at the forefront of defending the virtuousness of the courts.

Also curious to every discerning mind watching the unfolding events in Nigeria since the February 25th Presidential election is the fact that the PEPC that refused live television coverage of the hearings of the petition, and is now anxious to have the conclusion beamed live.

What is it that has happened between the hearing period and the delivery of the judgment that the live coverage which they claimed was a policy issue changed suddenly at the delivery point?”

The statement further read;

“We are aware of the efforts of the agents of the States to orchestrate problems and blame them on the political opposition. We wish to emphasize that it is the right of the people in a democracy to demonstrate and the obligation of state security agents to protect the demonstrators and those not demonstrating.

We implore Nigerians to remain calm and peaceful, abide by the rule of law, and understand that this matter has not reached its logical and final conclusion.

Our concern as a critical stakeholder in Nigeria’s project especially the democratic evolution is that what is being destroyed with all these clever by half playing on people’s intelligence is Nigeria as a nation not necessarily an individual.

Anybody who loves this country should appreciate the importance of due process and the rule of law because, without it, this country is going nowhere.”