The Labour Party (LP) has voiced its concerns regarding comments made by retired Supreme Court Justice Mary Odili, which it perceives as pre-judgment remarks concerning the impending verdict of the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC). The PEPC is scheduled to deliver its judgment on Wednesday, and these comments have raised eyebrows within the LP.
The LP’s National Publicity Secretary, Obiora Ifoh, issued a statement in Abuja on Tuesday, expressing the party’s apprehension over Justice Odili’s statements. According to Ifoh, the former Supreme Court Justice made these remarks during a colloquium held in Abuja last week to commemorate the 25th anniversary of jurist JK Gadzama’s elevation to the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).
Ifoh went on to say, “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.”
The LP expressed its dismay that individuals in influential positions appeared to be making preemptive statements about the forthcoming judgment, potentially undermining the sanctity of the judiciary in Nigeria’s democratic process. Ifoh added, “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.”
Additionally, the LP criticized Justice Odili’s lavish praise of the legal counsels representing the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Bola Ahmed Tinubu, noting that the event was not meant for such accolades. The LP found this conduct unbecoming of a distinguished jurist who had reached the pinnacle of her career in Nigeria’s apex court and who also serves as the Chairperson of the Body of Benchers, a role that should prioritize upholding the integrity of the judiciary.
Justice Mary Odili had commended the expertise of Wole Olanipekun, the lawyer defending President Bola Tinubu at the elections petitions tribunal, and suggested that a “resetting of the mind” would occur for those who were poised to accept their electoral losses.
The LP’s statement underscores the importance of maintaining the impartiality and integrity of the judicial system, especially in matters as crucial as presidential election petitions. The party’s concerns reflect broader discussions about the role of the judiciary in upholding democracy and ensuring fair and just electoral outcomes.