The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Tanko Muhammad, has warned individuals and agencies of the government against any form of harassment and embarrassment of judicial officers in the country.
He gave the caution on Wednesday in Abuja at a special session organised to herald the formal commencement of the 2021/2022 legal year of the Supreme Court.
Justice Muhammad, who appraised the performance of the judiciary in the just-concluded year, was very specific about the siege on the Abuja residence of Justice Mary Odili of the apex court.
“I must say, we were jolted with embarrassing news of the invasion of the official residence of one of our brother Justices, Honourable Justice Mary Peter Odili, on Friday 29th October 2021, by men suspected to be security operatives, acting on a search warrant purportedly obtained from an Abuja Magistrate’s Court under questionable circumstance,” he said.
“I must make it known to all and sundry that we have had enough dosage of such embarrassments and harassments of our judicial officers across the country and we can no longer take any of such shenanigans. The silence of the judiciary should never be mistaken for stupidity or weakness.
“By the nature of our work, we are conservative but not conquered species and should not be pushed further than this by any individual, institution, or agency of the government. With time, those taking the judiciary as a mere weakling will soon realise that it is from the calmest seas, we often experience the fiercest storms.”
According to the CJN, the era of oppressing, suppressing, and intimidating judicial officers is long gone and such action will no longer be condoned.
He warned that no one, irrespective of his or her status or position in the country, should test the will of the judiciary, saying the consequence of such unwarranted provocation would be too dire to bear.
Justice Muhammad stated that the judiciary would begin to resist any clandestine attempt to silence or ridicule judicial officers to oblivion.
He disclosed that they were making efforts to ensure that search and arrest warrants must be issued with the knowledge and approval of the Chief Judge of the respective state or federal high court going forward.
“Nigeria, to the best of my knowledge, is not a lawless society,” the CJN avowed. “We should begin to do things that will project us favourably and rightly, too, to the international community.
“No law permits anyone to invade, subdue or overawe any Nigerian citizen in his or her residence with a flimsy, fraudulently obtained search warrant.”