Paul Obiajunwo, PortHarcourt
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has declared that any attempt to humiliate, muzzle and weaken the nation’s judiciary under any guise, for manifestly political purposes, cannot be healthy for the stability and progress of the nation’s democracy.
In his address at the opening of the Rivers State Judiciary 2016/2017 Legal Year at the State High Court in Port Harcourt on Friday , Governor Wike said the attacks on the judiciary : “stands to be condemned by all those who can see the danger in such brazen actions by State agencies that are subject to our laws.
“What is even more disturbing is the double standard and lack of courage exhibited in the matter by the National Judicial Council and the Nigerian Bar Association when there was nothing new in the facts to warrant such a dangerous volte-face and pitiable submission to extraneous pressures.”
The governor said that the judiciary must be independent and effective to enforce the universal application of the rule of law.
According to him, the absence of the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary is a recipe for anarchy.
He said: “It serves no useful purpose to be desperate or hysterical with the fight against corruption. Thus, it remains unacceptable when unorthodox mechanisms not warranted by law are applied in the so-called fight against corruption.
“For some of us, the provocative invasion of the residences and subsequent arrest and detention of serving judges and justices of the Supreme Court in the dead of the night cannot by any stretch of imagination be justified as appropriate in a decent society.
“Granted that judges are not above the law, but at the same time, they do not deserve to be assaulted, stripped of their dignity and treated like common criminals on mere suspicion and unproven allegations of misfeasance.”
The governor also took time to berate the police and the INEC for aiding the Rivers APC to rig the forthcoming Rivers Rerun elections through the printing of fake election result sheets .
He said : “Even now, INEC is doing nothing to convince the world that the outstanding elections they have suddenly and reluctantly fixed for 10thDecember, 2016 will be free, fair and credible.
“Rather, they have already started the sabotaging process by giving out the security codes of result sheets to agents of the opposition All Progressive Congress to enable them have replicas of INEC’s result sheetswith which to easily rig the elections. “
Former President of the Nigeria Bar Association , NBA , Chief Onueze Okocha decried the extreme poor treatment of judicial officers as if they are common criminals .
He said though corruption should be condemned , the government must realise that the failure to obey the rule of law, lack of respect for the separation of powers and the rule of law constitute corruption .
He said: “The NBA, with due respect to our esteemed President and some other leading lights in the association , has appeared to be rather vacillating on this matter and the issues now thrown up”.
Rivers State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice , Emmanuel Aguma (SAN ) said the country is living in perilous times when justice has been forced to be selective with the independence of the judiciary on shaky grounds.
He regretted that the security agencies now manufacture evidence against judges for the purpose of intimidation . w
In her address, Chief Judge of Rivers State , Justice Adama Iyayi-Laminkara commended Governor Wike for ethroning financial autonomy at the State.
Earlier, the Rivers State Judiciary held a re-dedication church service to mark the beginning of the 2016/2016 legal year at the Saint Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in Port Harcourt .