Chairman of Body of Benchers (BoB), Justice Mary Odili (rtd), has explained what she meant in the speech she made on September 1 that litigants before election petition tribunals should not bring down the country.
The jurist said her speech was directed at parties.
A statement by her media aide, Felix Enebeli, reads: “Our attention has been drawn to the unfortunate skewed social media interpretation inflicted upon the innocuous speech made by Justice Mary Odili, retired Justice of Supreme Court, during the colloquium organized in Abuja on Friday, September 1, to mark the 25th anniversary of Chief Joe Kyari Gadzama as Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) with the theme: The Nigeria of our Dreams: A Call to the Patriots.
“Some mischievous conflict entrepreneurs have been hosting comments from persons determined to force her speech to fit jaundiced narratives and political nuances. Justice Odili spoke like one ‘who saw something and said something’ without minding whose ox is gored.
“It is emphasised that there is nothing in the comments that suggested a reference to those who lost in any election in any state or region. The 2023 election was in four categories: states’ Houses of Assembly, governorship, National Assembly, and presidential.
“More so, the lawyers who attended the events, especially the named ones, were called upon, in their professional capacity, to find solutions to challenges facing 2023 elections, irrespective of their leanings.
“Wole Olanipekun (SAN) is past chairman of Body of Benchers, who handed over to Justice Odili. Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) is the attorney general and minister of Justice, and the host, J. K. Gadzama (SAN), is a lawyer who has done cases for Peoples Democratic Party.
“These lawyers are globally acknowledged as strong in litigation. The other lawyers in attendance are possibly handling cases for politicians. The unprovoked vituperations are a sad reflection of the reason for the cautionary comments of Justice Odili, and the vain struggle to give it momentum to political gains is unhelpful.
“This colloquium and book launch in honour of Chief Joe Gadzama, upon attainment of 25 years as SAN, is an epochal achievement. It is no doubt appropriate the theme was: The Nigeria of our Dreams, A Call to the Patriots.
“I say so in the light of the prevailing situation in Nigeria as a result of the election, which has generated storms, necessitating the conversation which we are about to indulge in, as there seems to be moves to throw the nation into chaos or conflagration.
“This may be brought about by individuals and groups who, fanning the embers of hatred, bigotry, and tribalism, fail to see the outcomes of the utterances without caution that are being thrown around.
“It is human to feel cheated or having the short end of the stick by one who is not declared winner at any electoral contests. Such emotion, however grim, does not justify bringing the roof down…’’
“The reason is simple: in such an eventuality, aggrieved person may not be spared, as the commotion that could ensue would be like an unguided missile, which could land anywhere and upon anyone.
“Therefore, in ventilating our points of view and facts at the electoral tribunals or other courts, a sense of responsibility from all parties is demanded. The situation does not call for the blackmail of the judges or the posting of speculatory hypotheses, giving them such a life of their own, which runs riot and is accepted by the hapless and innocent in the society as the truth…”