Who Is After Mary Odili? – By Tony Okoroji

One of the first songs I ever recorded as an artiste is titled “Sweet Mary”. My village church is St Mary’s Catholic Church, Ogada Atta in Imo State. The unwavering catholic that I am, I still worship a St. Mary’s whenever I can. The primary school I went to in Port Harcourt is called St Mary’s Catholic School. It is on Aggrey Road in the part of the city called “Town”. The beautiful girl I fell in love with as a teenager in Lagos and got married to when I was 25 years old is named Queen Mary. Apart from my belief in the sanctity of the judiciary, I have a very soft spot for anyone Mary, especially, a brilliant and beautiful Mary. Please, who is after Justice Mary Odili and why?

Probably no one in Nigeria needs more informed, professional and ethical judges than me. Very few in Nigeria have had their past and future laid bare before judges than this writer. I walk today a free man because of decisions taken by judges.

I have been to court many times, not just more than the average Nigerian, but more than many lawyers. I was at the Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday and Wednesday. I was also at the Federal High Court, Lagos on Thursday. Why?

Those close to me will tell you that I am a mild-mannered person and not quarrelsome. I do not shout and I am not temperamental. I however hold strong views about a number of things. One of them is that you cannot build a great society if you are unwilling to subject yourself to a set of agreed principles and the rule of law.

Sadly, we live in a society where if you hold an office, nobody wants you to say no to whatever they ask of you whether they are deserving of it or not and whether what they ask of you is right or wrong. In Nigeria, you are supposed to be every body’s ‘mugu’ doing every body’s bidding. To have a mind of your own is a sin.

Woe betide you to refuse a Nigerian what he wants.

He will remind you that you come from the same tribe, went to the same school or attend the same church. He will try every which way to intimidate you, malign your name and fabricate and spread false stories about you. A Nigerian is unlikely to say that he is undeserving of his request. You are the one undeserving of the position you hold by refusing him what he wants.

These days, you are also supposed to say “yes sir!” to any request by any person who holds a temporary position of authority whether the request is lawful or not, whether the request is for the greater good or selfish. If you have the temerity to say “no”, be ready to have all the coercive powers of the state unleashed on you.

Yes, I was at the Federal High Court in Abuja earlier in the week to challenge the depravity that has taken over our country. In 2019, about 12 men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) from Abuja, armed to the teeth, stormed COSON House in Lagos, the usually calm and quiet headquarters of the organization of which I am chairman. It took a while to get them to withdraw. It is fairly common knowledge that last year, a strong attempt was made to abduct me in Lagos, whisk me away and waste me in Benin by agents of the state. In the execution of the devious plan, the Almighty intervened. While I was abducted, my abductors could not take me away from Lagos. God freed me.

One afternoon, not long after I came back from a medical trip, the news came that bank accounts of COSON of which I am chairman had been frozen, the accounts of my personal business had been frozen, my domiciliary account had been frozen and my personal Naira account had also been frozen. From where did the court order emanate? Just like the case of Justice Mary Odili, from a little-known Magistrate Court in Abuja, in a case in which I am not even a party!

My staff and I have been subjected to the never-ending and mentally overwhelming multiple and simultaneous invitations and threats of arrest from DSS, EFCC from Lagos and Abuja, Police from Lagos, Benin, Abuja, etc. The only people we have not heard from are the Boys Brigade and Boys Scout!

I can say with 100% certainty that no one at COSON House has a catapult not to talk of a penknife. I do not see how anyone at COSON can be said to be in any way a threat to national security. What is our business with DSS? I have also said it before that I hold no government position and have no access to one naira of government funds. I do not do money laundering, I do not do oil bunkering, I do not do ‘yahoo-yahoo’ or internet fraud of any kind, I do not deal in drugs and I am not engaged in any criminal activity of any sort. What is my business with EFCC? We have never picked the pocket of anyone not to talk of robbery. What were the heavily armed men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad doing at COSON House? But they have kept hunting us. There is no big money in any of my accounts that will suggest that it is the proceed of any crime and they know it. Without any question, their objective is to subject me to mental torture, terrorize me, drive me crazy and decapitate me.

Both as President of PMAN and Chairman of COSON, it has been my duty to vigorously defend the rights of those I swore to defend with every skill and honour I have. Sadly, in today’s Nigeria, honour has become a dirty word.

I do not know how to say “yes sir!” to evil and would rather die holding on to my beliefs than stay alive bowing to falsehood.

I have had tremendous success in Nigerian courts. I actually wonder where I would be without the courts. That is why the events of the last eight days, the harassment of Hon Justice Mary Odili of the Supreme Court has left me traumatized. What they have tried to do to her is so familiar to me. Someone wants to terrorize her with the coercive instruments of the state. Please… When did our nation descend to being such a cheap banana republic?

I must state clearly that not once in the many cases I have taken to court has a judge or anyone acting on behalf of a judge approached me directly or indirectly with a request for one Naira. I therefore have no choice but to conclude that there are still many good persons on the bench in Nigeria. Without a system of justice and judges who are free, Nigeria will be back to the state of nature in which, according to Thomas Hobbes, “life will be solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”.

I believe that for the good of these good judges in the system and for the survival of the Nigerian nation, it is important that these questions are answered quickly and with clarity: Who sent the people who went to harass Justice Mary Ukaego Odili, the number 2 most senior Judge in Nigeria? Why did they go after her? What punishment does our nation exert on the person or persons who dreamt of this kind of madness and depravity?

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