Justice Mary Ukaego Odili: A Supreme Court Justice Whose Name Defines The Trajectory Of Her Misapplication Of Justice


The Igbo often say, “Ezi afa ka ego” (Good name is better than money). Beyond this Igbo maxim, the Igbo also believe that every individual is guided by his or her name. As they would always say, “Afa onye n’edua.” And for those of us who are conversant with the word of God—I mean the Holy Bible— name change had been one of God’s instruments of reordering a man’s objectives in life or commissioning him for a new task. The lessons of Abram to Abraham, Jacob to Israel and Saul to Paul are instructive. This can also explain why no Christian, even among the Jews, prefer to name his son Judas, even though the betrayal of Our Lord Jesus Christ was only associated with Judas Iscariot.

Justice Mary Odili’s native name—what the Igbo refer to as “Afa Chi” (Name of Destiny) is “Ukaego”, meaning: “Money Speaks.” So, with such a name, it becomes generically difficult to see such a person as Justice Mary Ukaego Odili appointed a Justice of the Supreme Court live above board, exhume a carriage of juridical sanctitude and exhibit a sense of moral rectitude guided by the impervious principles of Justice, equity and fair play. For her therefore, when duty calls, it is all about money calling. This fully explains why her professional career as a Justice has always been riddled with controversies painted in dishonesty and questionable outings.

Thus, her recent unofficial and unilateral delivery of the judgment of the Presidential Election Tribunal during Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama’s book launch and colloquium on September 1, 2023, was normal for a person of her character and only came as a surprise to those who are not aware of her incarnate marriage with the love of illegitimate money. It is not surprising therefore that when Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his miscarriage of justice hirelings decided to recruit someone of a Supreme Court status to do the hatchet-man job of preempting the already bought judgment of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, Justice Mary Ukaego Odili was quickly considered well suited for the job.

Justice Mary Ukaego Odili speaking from that Philistine stable of putrid class of learned men of decrepit morals clearly represents the height of the moral depravity of the Nigerian judicial system. I am yet to know if Justice Mary Ukaego Odili understands the Olympian height as a retired Justice of the Supreme Court from which she so descended so low as to be measured in character with an ordinary legal journeyman.

In the said speech clothed in venomous and incendiary threats against freedom and justice in Nigeria during the occasion, Justice Mary Ukaego Odili stated in part:

Knowing the qualities of participants at this colloquium and I am happy, professional, those who are well-equipped in litigation matters or electoral disputes, Chief Olanipekun is a master and our Attorney General recently sworn in. These are experts. I am confident that having such persons here, including our host Chief J. K. Gadzama, there is confidence that at the end of the day resetting of the mind would be taking place.

These were the words of a retired Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria on a serious election case awaiting judgment. Where else can one see such a debasement of moral rectitude coming from a Justice of Supreme Court except in Nigeria? As a retired Supreme Court Justice and wife of a two-term Governor of Oil-rich Rivers State, Justice Mary Ukaego Odili always presents herself as a demi-god in the determination of any critical legal matter of national concern.

In 2015, Justice Mary Ukaego Odili, then of the Supreme Court of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, joined other members of the High Bench nominated by the National Judicial Commission (NJC) to design and promulgate the “Revised Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” which took effect from 24 February, 2016; and to which by right of being a retired Justice of the Supreme Court of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, she is still bound by its provisions.

Let me just remind Justice Mary Ukaego Odili what Rules 4.1 of the 2016 Revised Code of Conduct of Judicial Officers regarding her very embarrassing outing: “A Judicial Officer should abstain from comments about a pending or impending proceeding in any Court in this country….” In fact, Justice Mary Ukaego Odili like every Justice of the Federal Republic of Nigeria both serving and retired, is bound by the National Judicial Commission’s convention of political silence.

Dr Peter Odili is one man I have before now had great respect for, but this respect has just evaporated with the spark of Justice Mary Ukaego Odili’s murderous self-deifying juridical arrogance painted in cataclysmic juridical infantility. The question I wish to ask Justice Mrs. Mary Ukaego Odili is, Madam! Biko, what do you need in life again to warrant debasing your highly exalted career in retirement at this twilight of your life on earth?

Justice Mary Ukaego Odili as a retired Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria lives with full salary and other accruing benefits. Her husband, Dr Peter Odili had served as Deputy Governor of Rivers State and later the Governor of Rivers State for eight years. Their daughter was recently appointed a Judge of the Federal High Court. Even with all these blessings, she and her husband again recently received the donation of a castle-like living house by the former Governor of Rivers State Nyesom Wike.

What this means is that Justice Mary Odili is far apart from the realities of the suffering of the Nigerian masses. It also means that poverty as a phenomenon is alien to her family. To her therefore, with all the wealth both legitimately and illegitimately acquired as a Justice of the Supreme Court and, those acquired by her husband as Governor of one of the richest oil-States in Nigeria for eight years, she is not still satisfied, just because her Afa-chi—Ukaego (name of destiny) said she will never live without money acquired illegitimately. And to do this, she must allow herself to be used as a tool of miscarriage of justice against her people and the Nigerian masses.

In her said speech laden with heinous notoriety, she not only threatened Mr. Peter Obi indirectly by accusing him of inciting would-be rioters against the coming travesty of justice but wants the Nigerian masses to sheepishly accept her dictum that it is human to feel cheated. Hear her:

I say so in the light of the prevailing situation in Nigeria as a result of the 2023 General elections which had generated a lot of storms necessitated in 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 some individuals and groups who are fanning the ember of hatred, bigotry and tribalism, failed to see the possible outcomes of their utterances without caution that are being thrown around. It is human to feel cheated or having the short end of the stick, but one who is not declared the winner at any of the electoral contests such emotion however grieved does not justify bringing the roof down; the roof of our nation.

There is no doubt that Nigerians are beginning to understand why President Olusegun Obasanjo stopped her husband Dr Peter Odili from succeeding him as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. And this reason is hinged on his discomfort with the moral bankruptcy of his wife—Justice Mary Ukaego Odili. Indeed, I wonder how Nigeria would have fared had this woman become the First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Our Baba God no dey sleep.

Ironically, Justice Mary Ukaego Odili hails from Imo State, the home-State of such institutionalized Igbo saboteurs as Hope Uzodinma, Rochas Okorocha and the dancing traditional misfits miscalled traditional rulers from Orlu. Indeed, this characteristic Judas Iscariot betrayal mentality, I tend to believe, is a generic syndrome of cancerous saboteur mentality among certain sections of Imo State.

We can in the same vein now understand why Imo State breeds unknown gunmen like rabbit. In fact, our misgiving with the unknown gunmen in Imo State is their misapplication of priority by killing and making life unbearable for the same downtrodden masses they profess to be fighting for. Otherwise, there shouldn’t have been any misgiving against the unknown gunmen if they had faced those required to die by the divine convention: “the wicked shall never go unpunished.”

Of course, it is not yet late for the unknown gunmen to reorder their objective priority, and indeed, we are quickly approaching the Rubicon. And this time, even the Police and members of the armed forces should know that it is time for the desirable to be done, because neither their uniforms nor their guns exempt them from the current spiraling sufferings of the Nigerian masses, except the likes of Justice Mary Ukaego Odili.

There is no denying the fact that Justice Odili’s leprous outburst is a call for war itself. So, she cannot pretend to be calling for restraint when she had no justice in the plethora of her vocabularies during the said shameful speech? How can a Justice of the Supreme Court speak of hatred, bigotry and tribalism without reference to the resulting injustice that precipitated such daring states of the mind? How can a Justice of the Supreme Court make such a statement as “It is human to feel cheated.”

So, Justice Mary Ukaego Odili is aware that the Presidential election was a fraud and that the Nigerian voters were cheated. Is it no incredible to listen to such a weird statement coming from a Supreme Court Judge? I hope Britain, France and the United States of America, those who propagate their own form of democracy without the corresponding propagation of requisite moral backgrounds, are listing with rapt attention?

Justice Mary Ukaego Odili wants the suffering Nigerian masses to sit down and die slowly rather than stand up and fight for their freedom for once. Justice Mary Ukaego Odili should be strongly reminded of the Ancient and Modern hymn verse, “He that is down needs fear no fall.” It is people like her that have many thing things to lose and not the ordinary suffering Nigerian.

Now that she has delivered the judgment in favour of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, she cannot in the same right compel Nigerians not to stand up and fight for their political emancipation. You cannot beat a child and at the same time deny him his right to cry. Every concerned and suffering Nigerian—the Police, the paramilitary and members of the armed forces should rise and defend the cause of Democracy, Equity and Justice should the contrary be the case from the mouths of the Judges as already pronounced in advance by Justice Mary Ukaego Odili.

If the Nigerian armed forces fail to come to the rescue of our nation at the appropriate time, then the people should take the initiative and let us see how many people the same suffering Police and members of the armed forces will kill. This battle to emancipate Nigeria and Nigerians is neither Mr. Peter Obi’s nor Atiku Abubakar’s battle. It is a battle for Democracy and Justice without ethnic and religious boundaries.

Justice Mary Ukaego Odili and all those sowing the seeds of injustice in this country should remember the saying, “From the sighing of those living under thatched roofs, storms are born which destroy palaces.”


Written by:

Nwankwo T. Nwaezeigwe, PhD, DD
Odogwu of Ibusa
Institute of African Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka

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