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Politics of Friday, 12 November 2021


APC browbeating judiciary ahead of 2023 - Wike

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has alleged that the invasion of the residence of Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Mary Odili, was a precursor to the Federal Government’s infamous tactic of browbeating the judiciary to a state of fear and conformity, as the country enters next political season.

The governor said the Federal Government wanted to continue to ride roughshod unchecked over the rule of law and the sanctity of the country’s electoral system, hence, the renewed attack on judicial officers.

He made claim at a special court session to mark the opening of the 2021/2022 Legal Year of the Rivers State judiciary held at the Chief Judge’s ceremonial court, Port Harcourt, yesterday.

“Although it is still early morning in our democratic match towards 2023, the attack on Justice Mary Odili is a prelude to many more and even worse political manoeuvrings we should be prepared to experience from the APC-led Federal Government, which having lost relevance and popular support is becoming more and more desperate over its dwindling political fortunes by the day.

“While cases with political undertones, including the constitutional validity of certain sections of the recent amendments to the 2010 Electoral Act, if assented to by Mr President, would necessarily come before our courts; what is important is the duty and capacity of our judiciary to save our democracy and the country.”

He noted that it is the responsibility of the government at all levels to protect the judiciary and accord the courts with such assistance as they may require to enable them to safeguard their independence, advance the rule of law and dispense justice equally and fairly to all citizens.

According to him, unfortunately, while the present Federal Government has been very weak in resourcing and strengthening the judiciary; it has been very strong and readily predisposed to ridiculing the entire institution and subjecting individual judges to both physical and psychological trauma for its own self-interest.

“We all witnessed the infamous midnight raids on judicial residences and the subjection of some judges, to illegal raids, arrests and detentions by agents of the Federal Government purportedly carrying out a baseless sting operation back in 2016.

“Since then the intimidation of judges whose judgements, intellectual or moral disposition they are not comfortable with has continued unrelenting with the latest attack on a peaceful mother, wife of a former Governor and Justice of the Supreme Court, our own highly revered Hon. Justice Mary Odili.

“It is important to emphasize that we allow these intimidations to become acceptable standards of behaviour and even become complicit in their unholy design to undermine the administration of justice when we all opt to keep quiet in the face of these assaults.”

Governor Wike, who commended the leaders of the Nigerian Bar Association, the Body of Senior Advocates, the Chief Justice of Nigeria and members of the public for promptly condemning the “idiotic” siege on the judiciary, said they must quickly move beyond the verbal protestations to unveil those behind the raid on Justice Odili’s residence and ensure they are all held to account for their actions, otherwise the impunity would never cease to rear its ugly head in the country.

He challenged the Federal Government to come clean on “this infamy” with the names, identities and affiliations of those allegedly arrested for their roles or found to have been involved in the attack on the residence of Justice Odili if it is not to be perceived as the primary mastermind.

On the proposed proliferation of law school campuses, the governor urged the management of the Nigerian Law School, the Council of Legal Education and the Federal Government to see the folly in the plan, and nib the idea from the bud before it causes more damage to a foremost institution that is already severely challenged for lack of adequate funding.

He explained that the Port Harcourt Campus of the Nigerian Law School being built by the State government was consciously demanded and approval secured from the Council of Legal Education and ultimately from President  Muhammadu Buhari, through the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice and named after the late Nabo Graham-Douglas, SAN.

Chief Judge of Rivers State,  Justice Simeon Chibuzor Amadi, said since assumption of office in May 2021, he has administered the judiciary with commitment in order to raise the bar of performance of judicial officers and staff that should reflect in the speedy dispensation of justice.