Justice Odili: Prime Suspect, Malami Trade Words

Nigeria's Minister for Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN

The case of the invasion of the residence of Supreme Court Justice, Mary Odili took another twist on Thursday when the prime suspect and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, traded words.

The prime suspect, Ajodo Lawrence, who was short of saying he and his cohorts were deployed by the AGF, nonetheless, said he was a consultant to Malami.

Ajodo, who claimed to be a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), said this when he was paraded by the police in Abuja.

But Malami quickly fired back saying a quack could never be his consultant and that Ajodo was a drowning man.

Daily Trust reports that authorities of the Nigerian Police Force yesterday paraded those they called “Fourteen fake police officers who invaded Justice Mary Odili’s residence” on October 29.

The fake officers were reportedly led by the self-acclaimed CSP Ajodo, who during the parade made a U-Turn and said he is not an officer of the force.

The other suspects according to the police are; Michael Diete-Spiff, Bar. Alex Onyekuru, Bayero Lawal, Bar. Igwe Ernest, Aliyu Umar Ibrahim, Maimuna Maishanu, Ayodele Akindipe, Yusuf Adamu, Bashir Musa, ASP Mohammed Yahaya, Stanley Nkwazema (journalist), Shehu Jibo, Abdullahi Adamu and L/CPL Mike.

They were paraded at the Force Criminal Investigation Department, Garki, Abuja by the Force spokesman, Frank Mba.

Mba, a Commissioner of Police, who described the suspects as “Impostors unknown to any of the nation’s security forces”, said they were drawn from different professional backgrounds, notably, journalism, banking and law enforcement.

He called them “loose cannons and document forgers”, who were on their own and not hired by any personnel of the ministry of justice.

He said other suspects, including two military personnel, were currently at large.

The Force spokesman said all of them conspired to raid the residence of Odili following information that the Supreme Court justice was keeping a large sum of money in foreign currencies.

Justice Odili is the wife of Peter Odili, a former governor of Rivers State.

Different narration by prime suspect

In an interview with newsmen after they were paraded by the police, the purported fake CSP, Ajodo, said, “I am not an officer of the Nigeria Police but a consultant for the AGF (Malami). He did not send us to raid Mrs Odili’s house.”

Responding to a question about his profession, Ajodo said, “Let me explain. There is a mandate of 18 accounts in Nigeria given to me. I am not from another country, this is my country. They gave me 29 accounts to recover; they did not give it to any chambers; I am the one they gave.

“Malami gave it to me but this assignment (Odili’s house raid) I went, Malami did not send me. I am a recovery consultant. I am not a lawyer, I am a consultant. We are five employed in that office.”

I’ve no business with him – Malami

Shortly after the parade by police, AGF refuted the claim by Ajodo.

In a statement by Dr Umar Gwandu, Malami described the said confession as “An orchestrated attempt to stir unnecessary controversies and public apprehension”.

According to him, “With all the competent, high-level professionals and capable human resources available at the disposal of the honourable attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice, it only takes the imagination of the evil minds to assume or think that the honourable attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice will descend so low to engaging a quack or fake police officer to serve as his consultant,” the statement reads.

“This is a case of a drowning man scavenging for a dying partner. We are happy to note that investigation has commenced unravelling the circumstances and personalities behind the invasion and sponsored campaign of calumny against the honourable attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice.

“We asked the suspect to present documents of engagements where he worked as a consultant to the attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice, whether in past or now.

“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? For what duration? And for how much?” he asked.

Another twist from whistleblower

There was also a twist to the drama from one of the suspects paraded by the police who gave his name as Aliyu Umar Ibrahim.

He told Commissioner Mba during interrogation that there was money in the house of Odili.

“I swore to an affidavit on October 13. Let me explain what gave me the confidence to swear to an affidavit. I will introduce myself as a prayer warrior, introduced to a godson to Justice Peter Odili.

“When I was introduced to the house, I do some of my Istiharah (prayer of seeking counsel) and I discovered that the information that I was given from my prayer was real.

“It was when I finished my Istiharah that I went for an affidavit. I was directed to go through the procedure; that was when I went to the EFCC, meeting some interviewers and interrogators.

“When I was waiting for their call…They called me, they all assembled in the ministry of justice and I asked Mr Lawrence that I started my journey from the EFCC, why did I see myself here? He answered me that EFCC is under the ministry of justice. He asked me for the affidavit and I gave him. And he told me that he is working in the office.

“When he asked me for the surveillance, I agreed that I would go for the surveillance,” he said.

Mba then asked him what he meant by surveillance and Umar said, “When we met in the ministry of justice, he (Lawrence) asked me to go and show him the particular house for him to know how he can penetrate the house with his team member.”

And when he was asked which house he showed, he said, “I showed him Justice Peter Odili’s house.”

It would be recalled that a team of “security operatives” had stormed Justice Odili’s Maitama residence. This was after an order was issued by Chief Magistrate Emmanuel Iyanna, who approved the search warrant by a body identified as the Joint Panel Recovery Unit in the ministry of justice.

The magistrate later revoked the order, saying he was misled. The incident sparked outrage with Malami, SAN, absolving his office of involvement in the operation.

Many questions yet to be answered

Daily Trust reports that many questions are begging for answers in order to get to the root of the matter.

For instance, apart from the little the so-called “whistleblower Umar” said, it is still a mystery who directed the “invaders” to storm Odili’s house.

Even though those arrested were short of mentioning any name, it was learnt from credible sources that two vehicles painted in military colours conveyed the operatives to the street where the Odilis live.

“Some media houses got wind of what was about to happen and they went there,” one of our sources said.

According to the source, “When some people close to Justice Odili heard that the house would be invaded at the instance of some powerful forces, they hinted the media and that was when some journalists went to the scene that night,” he said.

A journalist, who was also at the scene, said, “The people came in two military vehicles together with some police operatives but could not locate the actual house of Odili.

“They went back and forth and finally got to the house but were confronted by the security operatives in the house.

“While they were arguing, a lawyer of the Odili’s came and asked for the warrant and when they showed him, he punctured it saying the house address was wrong.

“All these happened in less than 30 minutes and they left. We were hinted that something would happen and that was why we went there,” the pressman said.

Another suspect, Stanley Nkwazema, said to be a contributing editor forTHISDAY newspaper, who was one of those paraded by the police, said it was Ajodo who promised him a lead story and that was why he went to the Odilis’ house.

He told Force spokesman Mba: “The day we had the first meeting to find out, I found discrepancies in his (Ajodo’s) identity card. I asked him, how AGF can sign the identification of a police officer. He told me he was in Wudil (Police Academy).”

When Mba asked for how long he followed the lead, he said, “I followed this lead three days.”

But the management of THISDAY Thursday disclaimed Mr Nkwazema, who Mba described as its staff.

A statement signed by the Managing Editor (Print and Digital), Bolaji Adebiyi, said contrary to his claim, Mr Nkwazema was neither a staff of THISDAY nor a contributing editor. The statement noted that Nkwazema was a sports correspondent of the paper and resigned from the company over 15 years ago.

It added that since his resignation, THISDAY had at no time contracted Nkwazema to investigate any story and knew nothing of his alleged investigation of a story leading to the raid of the residence of Justice Odili.

The statement, however, said that like hundreds of other readers of the newspaper, he sends for publication articles and analyses and was usually obliged as 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,” the statement added.

We will get to the root- NBA

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) investigator, Mr Monday Ubani, said they would get to the root of the siege by security operatives on the home of Justice Odili.

Speaking during a telephone chat with Daily Trust correspondent, he said that the NBA was conducting an independent investigation into the matter.

Monday Ubani, who is also the Chairman of the NBA section on public interest and development law (SPIDEL), said those arrested by the police would also be assisting the NBA to get to the root of the matter.

“Presently, it is prejudicial to speak and I cannot take any position. But the NBA will get to the root of the matter and NBA is going on with its investigation”, he said.

CSO threatens legal action against IGP

A civil society organisation, Anti-Corruption Network (ANC), said it would resort to legal action to compel the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, to make public the outcome of his investigation into the raid on the residence of Justice Odili if he fails to do so.

The Anti-Corruption Network (ANC) said making the findings of the probe public was imperative to ensure transparency.

The group’s Executive Secretary, Senator Dino Melaye, while briefing newsmen in Abuja on Thursday, said that they would resort to legal action to compel the IGP to make everything public.

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