NHRC condemns attack on judges over political decisions

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The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has condemned the growing culture of attack on judges and the Judiciary over judgments on political cases.

The NHRC, in a statement on Friday by its Executive Secretary, Tony Ojukwu, particularly faulted the recent invasion of the Abuja home of Justice Mary Odili of the Supreme Court by some individuals alleged to be protesting the apex court’s judgment in Bayelsa State governorship dispute.

The statement also condemned recent cases of kidnap of judges and warned that such practices, if not curbed by relevant state’s agencies, were capable of eroding judicial independence.

Part of the statement reads: “The National Human Rights Commission wishes to express its concern over recent harassment of judicial officers in the legitimate and constitutional exercise of their functions.

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“This situation is further accentuated by the increasing lack of safety for Nigerians while pursing their legitimate duties or businesses due to acts of hoodlums, criminal minded elements, banditry, kidnapping, insurgency and others thereby undermining human security to abysmal levels.

“Judicial independence is greatly undermined when judges are no longer able to exercise their functions without fear of reprisals, kidnapping, reprimand or attack on their persons, immediate family and property.

“The recent attacks on the person and private property of Honourable Justice Mary Odili of the Supreme Court, kidnapping of Justice Ijeoma Iheme of the Court of Appeal, Benin division and other judicial officers are but a few cases amongst a host of others.

“It is worse where such attacks on judicial officials result from performance of official duties following the delivery of judgements in election related cases.

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“Such are highly condemnable and portend great danger for Nigeria’s democracy and the enjoyment of the human rights especially the rights to life, freedom from fear of personal security, dignity of human persons, privacy and ownership of property as guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the United Nations Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary.

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