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Is The Arrest Of Judges Justified?

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Penultimate weekend,
some judges across the country were arrested by officers of the Department of Security Services (DSS) for corruption charges in what has been largely regarded as a sting operation.
Although the jurists have been released on self recognition, the argument on whether or not there was any justification for their arrests and the method applied still rages. Our correspondent, Calista Ezeaku, went to town to speak to some Port Harcourt residents on the burning issue. Our photographer Ken Nwiueh captured their images. Here are some excerpts.

Mrs Mma Ezemba – Businesswoman
I think the way the DSS carried out the sting operation was not proper. These are reputable judges and I think that due process should have played out. First of all, they shouldn’t have even gone to their houses. They should have summoned them. In the military for instance, erring officers are first of all made to face an in-house trial, sanctioned by their own body before any other action is carried out. I want to believe the NJC does the same for judges. So I think they should have been allowed to handle the matter before any other action was taken.
Some school of thought will say, if you side what happened it means you are equally corrupt. I’m not saying what they did, if they did it, is right. If they actually stole money or if monies were paid to them for settlement of cases and all that, that is totally wrong and yes they should be prosecuted. But I still feel due process should have been followed. I feel the way it was done almost looked like a witch hunt. And you see, the effect of this could actually be that the judges will be scared. When they are about to pass judgement they will remember that the president can actually throw them in jail and they may no longer be objective.
So the arrest is not good for the judiciary. And there is separation of power among the three arms of government. Each arm should be allowed to function independently without any over bearing influence of another arm.
Mr. Mike Opukiri – Public Servant
I don’t think there is any justification for the arrest. How can the DSS storm the houses of judges in the midnight to arrest them? The whole thing just looks like a witch hunt. Nobody is saying that judges are immuned or above the law but due process should be followed in doing certain things so that we don’t create more problems trying to solve one.
However, I think the arrests will make some judges that think they are above the law to sit up. But the implication is that judges will not be free in delivering judgments for fear of being arrested.

Mr. Douglas Fubara – Public Servant

I don’t see anything wrong with the arrest, other than the timing. Going at that ungodly hour – 1.00am, to pick somebody who we know cannot evade arrest, somebody you can get any time you want him? That is where I am not happy with the arrest. It should have been done in a more dignified manner.
The judges are not above the law. If they committed any crime, they should be made to face the wrath of the law like every other Nigerian.

Mr. Olalekan Ige – Journalist
Well, there have been arguments to and fro, some in support, and some against. But for me the common denominator in all the arguments is that indeed, there is corruption in the judiciary. It is not contestable. Recently, the NJC sanctioned two judges over allegations of corruption – Justice Samia from Kano State who was accused of demanding N200 million bribe from a litigant. The other one was Justice Auta from Kogi State who collected N197 million from a litigant. He admitted before the NJC that he collected the money.
We also have the case of the Chief Judge of Enugu State who was accused of collecting money from a business man who had vested interest in two cases before the Chief Judge.
So the NJC has actually confirmed that there is corruption in the judiciary. Several judges have been sanctioned by the NJC on account of corruption. Now, how do you go about fighting that corruption? I think that is the bone of contention. The NJC has just ended its meeting and clearly stated that they have the power to sanction any erring judge and that the DSS does not possess the power to storm the houses of judges and justices of the Supreme Court at that time of the night. My own submission is that in the amended version of the administration of Criminal Justice Act, it says you can search anybody’s house at any time of the day at any hour, at any day of the week as long as you have the search warrant. Now, was it right for the DSS to have stormed the house of the judges at that time of the night? DSS has her reasons and only DSS can justify that. If what the DSS did was wrong, then the judges could become billionaires because they can sue the DSS and the federal government and get money for damages. The other side of it is, did the DSS find anything incriminating on them? Are they guilty? Then it means that DSS will also have its own day in court to prove that their action was right. And at the end of the day either of the two sides will certainly get justice.
Couldn’t the arrest have been carried out in a more dignified manner considering the calibre of people involved? Well, we live in a society that has given status to certain class of people. My argument is this: We are all human beings and we are equal before God. Everybody has one soul and because we have one soul each, we should be treated equally. I’m not trying to denigrate the judiciary or the judges but if we have those who have gone against the laws of the land, they should be treated the way they should be treated. Daily, poor innocent Nigerians are arrested and nobody speaks for them, because they have no godfather, because they do not occupy high positions in the society, because they know nobody.
I think we need to have a society that recognises that everybody is equal before the law. I’m sure, if the DSS had gone to the house of a common man nobody would have been crying.
Having said that, let me comment on some peoples’ view that the arrests were a way of trying to cow the judiciary. I don’t think so. The judiciary is still made up of men of integrity, men who are fearless, men who have their sense of dignity, men who know what it means to be in the hallowed chambers of the judiciary. I don’t think it is an attempt to cow them. Only those who are afraid might say this is an attempt to cow the judiciary. To me, I think it will even strengthen the judiciary, No judge worth his salt will be afraid of giving judgement as long as his conscience is clear.
Emeka Onyeka – Lawyer
Well, the justification for the arrest will depend on who wants to analyse the situation, from what standpoint he intends to look at the national disgrace that was perpetuated by an arm of the security agency. Now the legal profession which the judges involved are part and parcel of, has a clearly defined mechanism for dealing with one of their own. If a judge is found to have misconducted himself or have been involved in any criminal activity, the first port of call is the NJC who has the authority to discipline and apply every mechanism as provided in their policy guideline in dealing with one of their own. Now, the judge will be investigated and if found liable for whatever offence, he will be disciplined as appropriate. A good example is what happened in Kano. Justice Auta was suspected to have been involved in duping somebody of certain amount of money. He was investigated, found to be liable. He was dismissed and the NJC even ordered that he should be submitted for prosecution. It means that event, the NJC is not out, at all cost, to defend and protect one of their own who has done something, particularly a criminal offence against the law of the land.
So what is my take on this? The DSS having said they had an in-tell that certain amount of money in local and foreign currencies were in those judges’ possession, what did they need to do? Why didn’t they invite or involve or even make a complain to the NJC? I’m not saying that the judges’ going to negotiate or get money from litigants or anybody to sell justice is nice. I’m totally against that but there are procedures. What they have done bringing cameras, publicising it is what I’m totally against.
On the issue of the time, the new law says they can execute arrest warrant and search warrant any time. That’s the problem, because anytime could mean any hour within the 24 hours of the day. But before now, search warrant was executed between 6 am and 6 pm. Now, if we go by the old provisions of the law, one would have said, why didn’t they wait, lay a siege, keep your surveillance on the alert. There is no way the judge or judges will be in their chambers by 6 a.m or even 6.30 am. Once the day is out, you can just swoop on them. And mind you the people you are doing this to are people who are well experienced. You are not doing it just to any other person. You will have three times the effort to prove what you say you have seen in their places, particularly those of them that were not at home when the so-called money was found on their property. And of cause you can’t do any search without the person being there. So whoever you say you find certain amount of money in his premises and he was not there, can’t it be planted on that person?
And it can’t be wrong entirely to believe that the arrest is a way of cowing the judiciary. We all in this country have seen a lot of judges giving some very contradictory and conflicting judgements. And one would have wondered that this same person who felt that those that have given judgements were induced, why will it be out of place for any other person to think that those giving conflicting judgements to favour the present government were equally induced. I mean it’s a two way thing. If you feel I’m biased for giving a particular position, why wouldn’t I also think you are biased for opposing my own position?
Like I said before I’m all in for anything that will give us a same society. I’m not given to merchandising of justice, you buy and sell justice particularly to the highest bidder. But again, there is the saying that before you come to my eye to remove a speck, you should also think of the lug in your own eyes. Now we are all Nigerians. Those in the judiciary, executive and the legislature, are all Nigerian. Now the question you ask yourself is this, is corruption peculiar or predominant in the judiciary?
The answer is no. What about the executive? The entire members of the cabinet, are they all holy? What has the President done to purge his cabinet of well known corrupt persons?

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Is CCT Right In Slamming Asset Declaration Charges Against CJN?

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On January 10, 2019, the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) filed six charges of corruption against the Chief Justice of Nigeria at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), accusing him of asset declaration offences.
The trial commenced, last Monday, at the premises of the Federal Capital Territory High Court in Jabi, commercial neighbourhood in Abuja, with Wole Olanipekun (SAN) leading more than 50 SANs and 70 other senior lawyers in defence of the Hon Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, who became the Chief Justice of Nigeria in March, 2017, less than six months after the homes of several federal judges, including those of the Supreme Court, were searched in an anti-corruption raid in October, 2016.
Two judges of the Supreme Court were amongst those whose houses were raided. They were charged for corruption, but none of them has been found guilty of any wrongdoing.
The government said it was only in 2016 after the controversial crackdown on judges that Onnoghen partially declared his asset, and cash in Union Bank branch in Calabar, but still failed to declare a series of bank accounts, denominated in local and foreign currencies, linked to him at a Standard Chartered Bank branch in Abuja.
The charges, triggered by a group, the Anti-Corruption and Research-based Data Initiative (ARDI), had sent a petition to the Code of Conduct Bureau and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), alleging suspected financial crimes and breaches of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act and provisions of the 1999 Constitution as amended against Onnoghen.
After laying bare the suspected transactions in the accounts between March, 2011 and August, 2016, the group accused Onnoghen of “Non-declaration of assets immediately after taking office in several capacities prior to becoming the Chief Justice of Nigeria contrary to section 15 of the Code of Conduct Bureau Act; Non-declaration of assets immediately after taking office as the Chief Justice of Nigeria contrary to section 15 of the Code of Conduct Bureau Act; Non-declaration of assets at the statutory intervals after taking office throughout his career as a federal judicial officer contrary to section 15 of the Code of Conduct Bureau Act; and False declaration of asset, and in particular, concealment of significant and declarable assets in the form of sundry bank accounts and the balances therein, contrary to section 15 of the Code of Conduct Bureau Act.”
The group also requested the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) to conduct comprehensive statistical analysis of cash transactions on all the accounts for cases of suspicious transactions; and determine whether Standard Chartered Bank has not breached statutory duties to the Nigerian State in favour of, or in connivance with, His Lordship on Suspicious Transactions Reporting (STR). It also urged the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), the Supreme Court of Nigeria and the National Judicial Council (NJC) to determine whether the disclosed financial transactions are justified by His Lordship’s lawful remuneration.
Onnoghen was alleged to have failed to declare his asset upon assumption of office as provided in Section 15 (1) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act C15, punishable under Section 23 (2) (a) (b) and (c) of the same Act.
His reaction to the allegations, Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter S. N. Onnoghen, described his non-declaration of the domiciliary accounts as a mistake.
In a statement addressed to the CCB investigators, last Friday, Onnoghen also explained that the undeclared foreign currencies found in his Standard Chartered Bank were sourced from his estacodes and medical allowances, including funds from his days in private practice between 1979 and 1989.
He further explained that the withdrawals from his Pound Sterling and Euro accounts were for the school fees and upkeep allowances of his children abroad.
“My Asset Declaration Form No SC N 00014 and SCN 00015 were declared on the same day 14/12/2016 because I forgot to make a declaration of my assets after the expiration of my 2005 declaration in 2009,” the CJN stated.
“Following my appointment as Acting CJN in November, 2016, the need to declare my asset anew made me to realise the mistake.”
The CJN further explained that he did not include the funds in his domiciliary accounts because he believed the accounts were not opened during the period covered by the declaration.
Here are some Nigerians’ reactions.
Excerpts:

Reacting, Human Rights Lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), asked the Federal Government to urgently withdraw the charges against Justice Walter Onnoghen as such move will amount to prosecutorial misadventure.
According to Falana, “The charge against the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen ought not to have been instituted at the Code of Conduct of Tribunal in view of the case of Nganjiwa v FRN (2017) LPELR 43391 wherein the Court of Appeal held that a judicial officer who has not been investigated by the National Judicial Council and sanctioned for misconduct cannot be arraigned in any criminal court in Nigeria.
“As all authorities are bound by the Court of Appeal verdict, the case should be withdrawn by the Attorney-General of the Federation without any delay because it is likely to be a prosecutorial misadventure,” Falana added.

In a swift statement condemning the action, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Candidate in the 2019 elections, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar said, “I have received the news of the sudden charges about to be filed against the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, with apprehension and suspicion especially as such a move against the head of an arm of our government is coming so close to an election in preparation of which the Buhari administration has shown growing desperation.
“My suspicions are further exacerbated by the fact that the Buhari government is pressuring an independent and self governing arm of government with the aim of getting CJN Walter Onnoghen to resign or be pushed aside.
“I stand on the side of the rule of law and believe that a person is innocent until proven guilty.
“If Justice Walter Onnoghen is guilty of the charges about to be preferred against him, let his guilt be determined by a competent court of law and not by the Buhari administration. The executive cannot usurp the role of the judiciary. Nigeria is still a democracy and not a fascist dictatorship as President Buhari may wish.
“Any attempt to force Justice Walter Onnoghen to vacate his office, 4 weeks to an election for which the unpopular Buhari administration has shown every intention to manipulate, is a move pregnant with negative meaning.
“I see no reason whatsoever for the ongoing pressure by the Buhari government to force Justice Walter Onnoghen to vacate office when he has not been convicted for any offence.
“I, therefore, call on the President to respect the principle of separation of powers and abide by the rule of law on this matter and stop any interference or pressure on Justice Walter Onnoghen or the judiciary and allow the law and the Constitution take its full course”.

In his reaction, Elder Statesman and Leader of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) and South-South Forum, Chief Edwin Clark, condemned the Federal Government decision to arraign the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, over assets declaration offences.
Clark said the arraignment of the CJN is a shock as Onnoghen has been carrying out his responsibilities as Nigeria’s top jurist diligently, adding that “PANDEF will resist any form of harassment of the CJN.
“The news of the arraignment of The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, before the Code of Conduct tribunal (CCT) on Monday has come to us as a shock because there is nothing to show that this man has not been doing his job properly,” Clark said.
”There is nothing to show that he is corrupt; simply because they want to rig this election, they want to remove him to put somebody who will do their bidding after the election otherwise there is no basis for harassing the judiciary.
“Yesterday, it was the acting director general of the Department of State Security Services (DSS), Matthew Seyeifa, who was removed and somebody who was retired was appointed to take his place. We deserve some respect. So, we will resist this one, and I understand that our governors had a meeting on this matter too and we will all come together,” he said.

Also speaking, a Journalist and Corporate Administrator, Chief Soye Wilson Jamabo said, “The strength of the Tripod upon which sits the pot of good governance depends on the balance and equality of all legs, but if a leg is unduly elongated and another shortened, its fall is eminent. Such is the move by the Executive to investigate, prosecute and judge the chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).
“The military style fashion, the timing and urgency of the drama smacks of desperation and fear of the unknown, this is impunity stretched too far. And to be silent is to watch the man in us die without any rescue effort.
“None is above the law, but same law that grants the Executive immunity from criminal prosecution recommends the National Judicial Council (NJC) as the constitutional body to handle cases of judicial officers not the CCT, an arm of the Executive. That will make an arm to be a judge in its own case”.

Activist, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), accused the Federal Government of engaging in unnecessary political witch-hunt.
Ozekhome maintained that the six-count criminal charge FG entered against the CJN over his alleged failure to declare his assets, was politically motivated, querying the time the alleged infractions were discovered.
Noting that the CJN, by virtue of his position, will play a major role in constituting the 2019 presidential election petition tribunal, Ozekhome, insisted that under the 1999 Constitution, as amended, Justice Onnoghen could not be forced to vacate his office, until when his guilt is established.
According to him, “The CJN can be removed from office either if he has been convicted or if under section 291 of the Constitution, the Senate affirms a request by the President to remove him by two-third majority vote.
“Our system of justice being Anglo-Saxon based, which is accusatorial, meaning that the innocence of a person is presumed.
“It is different from the criminal justice system of the French model which is inquisitorial, wherein the guilt of an accused person is presumed.
“This doctrine has been encapsulated in section 36 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, that the person’s innocence is presumed until he has been proven guilty.
“Assuming for example that Senator Bukola Saraki had been forced to resign his office when charges were brought against him before the same Code of Conduct Tribunal almost three years ago, what would have happened and what would have been his fate when the Supreme Court eventually discharged and acquitted him of the charge, following judgments and earlier order of the Court of Appeal and the Code of Conduct Tribunal itself?
“If you ask me, I sense serious political undertones oozing from this so-called imminent arraignment of the noble CJN. Question, when did they discover the alleged offence for which they now want to charge him on Monday?
“Was it just yesterday, was it last week, two weeks or six months ago? The CJN has been in office now for well over one year, how come that this misconduct or whatever offence that he is being alleged, was not seen up to now?
“How come, that it is just less than 40 days to the 2019 Presidential election, when the CJN is going to play the major role in constituting the Presidential election petition tribunal, that he is being moved against? Who is afraid of the Judiciary? Who is afraid of Justice Onnoghen and his impartiality and straight forwardness?
“How come we are reducing governance in Nigeria to one of impunity, one of despotism and one of absolutism.
“Don’t this people know that the world is laughing at us? Did we not see how Dino Melaye was yanked out from police hospital and taken to DSS quarters when he had no business or case with the DSS and DSS had no case against him.
“Did they not see Dino Melaye, a serving Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, sleeping in the open yesterday? Do they go on social media and do they watch international televisions?
“Do they know how the whole world is deriding us in this country? That governance has been reduced to mere witch-hunt, very opaque, very unaccountable, very un-transparent and very fascist! Can’t they see that?”, Ozekhome queried.

Susan Serekara-Nwikhana

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Rivers Residents Dissociate Wike From APC Crisis

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The crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State is unabating. None of the factions of the party is seemingly prepared to compromise its entrenched position even as the general elections are fast approaching. They are still singing in discordant tunes. More worrisome is the fact that some members of the APC loyal to the Rotimi Amaechi faction are placing the woes inflicting the party on the doorsteps of Governor Nyesom Wike who belongs to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). But residents of the state, who spoke with our correspondent, completely exonerated the Governor. Excerpts.

Hon Prince Israel Wobo, former Chief of Staff, Port Harcourt Local Government Council
In respect of the fact that Governor Nyesom Wike has been a factor of the day, and the political icon of Nigeria, he has nothing to do with APC crisis and the court judgement.
I want to stress the fact that Chief Wike has done his best in terms of infrastructural development in Rivers State despite the fact that they have been caging him, he does not have a hand in what is happening in APC, but something is certain in life, whatever a man sows, that he must reap.
The former Governor of Rivers State, Rt Hon Rotimi Amaechi believes he is the owner of Rivers State. He made a declaration that over his dead body would any one succeed him as governor of the state. Rotimi Amaechi while he was governor of Rivers State, Governor Wike was his Chief of Staff and Wike was very loyal to Amaechi’s-led government then, so why can’t Amaechi drop his pride and be ready to support the development of the state instead of causing problems in the state.
Today, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi , our own son is there as a Transportation Minister and should support Rivers State for development. Look at how Onne and Port Harcourt sea ports are wasting away, also major federal roads need our leaders’ attention. Why can’t something be done in this direction by Amaechi? I don’t see anything wrong that Chief Nyesom Wike has done to Amaechi.
I want to tell the world that Chief Wike is doing his best to ensure that peace and development are brought to Rivers State, therefore, he should be allowed to continue the good works he is doing. Thanks to Vice President, Osinbajo, who nicknamed Wike, ‘Mr Project,’ God has blessed the governor in all ramifications.
I want to appeal to Amaechi to bring down his wings and obey court procedures, as the crisis rocking APC is an internal one that would require only God’s intervention for the party to have peace because APC has failed Nigerians and God is not happy with APC as a party.
The crisis rocking the party is a natural phenomenon because whatever a man sows, that he would reap. The judgment is that APC cannot benefit from its stupidity and so Chief Wike has no hand in their crisis.
My humble advice to APC is that they should go and ask God for forgiveness. The entire crisis in APC is caused by one man, Rt Hon Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi right from the day he brought a man and declared him aspirant of Rivers State House of Assembly. The Bible says for one man’s sake, I will destroy a nation and for the same man’s sake, I will build a nation.
So, I make bold to say that Amaechi is responsible for the problems and the court judgement declaring the party of not having a governorship candidate and not Chief Nyesom Wike. Generally, I will like to say that the APC crisis is caused by stupidity of the highest order and pride.
Rt Hon Rotimi Amaechi should humble himself and should know that he is not god over other members of his party and to me, APC would only be accepted in Rivers State in the year 2023 when the Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike is prepared to handover.

Alhaji Ibrahim, a Muslim adherent
What I see in the APC is that they know too much and no one is ready to learn or hear from anyone. They don’t have respect for each other and as such, everything happening to them is their own fault and not caused by anyone else.
Take for instance, when APC decided to proceed with primaries in the state despite the court order against its earlier congress, the court on October 10, 2018 declared null and void, the nomination of Mr Amaechi’s man, Tonye Cole, as the governorship candidate of the APC on grounds that Senator Magnus Abe’s supporters were excluded from the party congress.
This is what happens when disobedience dominates one’s life, so they should take it the way the court has judged and not to look for PDP to apportion blames as being responsible for the court judgement
Tejudeen Asifat, a Muslim leader
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has nothing to do with the court judgement. I don’t believe the rumours making the rounds that he has a hand in it, rather, I would say that the problem rocking APC is their internal problem and their fault that the judgement went that way.
Governor Wike cannot control the Federal High Court, so how is the judgement his own fault?
Due to the court judgement, the All Progressives Congress (APC) may end up not having candidates for the governorship, Senate, House of Representatives, and House of Assembly elections in Rivers State in 2019, going by the Supreme Court ruling and other pending legal hurdles before the party.
The Supreme Court’s ruling invalidated the stay of execution order issued by the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt, against an earlier order of a high court in Rivers State which nullified the APC congress in the state.
I see the legal battle happening in APC and the oil-rich state as part of power-struggle within the APC between the Minister of Transportation, Rt Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, and Senator Magnus Abe, while Mr Abe wants to run for the governorship of the state under the APC, Amaechi wants Tonye Cole to go for governorship of the state on the platform of the same party. Things are not done right in a house where there is no understanding and unity.
While Mr Amaechi has allegedly been applying rough tackles to shut Mr Abe and his supporters out of the party, the Senator is using the court to fight back, and he seems to be successful in it, as evidenced by the Federal High Court ruling.
The High Court order on the party’s congress, which has just gotten the Federal High Court’s backing, nullified the APC congress which produced the factional state chairman of the party, Ojukaye Amachree, who is Mr Amaechi’s ally.
All these are responsible for the lots of problems they have and so nobody should link it to the Rivers State Governor as being responsible for the APC crisis.
Stanley Noredeem
The APC as a party is not in order and the party members caused this problem for themselves and not Governor Nyesom Wike because if the party were to be in unity, they would have produced one candidate from the beginning to be their governorship flag bearer and not two or three candidates coming from one party. They behave like children that need guidance, yet not ready to be guided.
As you can see, the APC has failed to put its house in order. Look at the comment by Senator Magnus Abe after the court judgement, he hailed the court, saying that the decision taken was “historic,” as it would amount to “political rascality of the highest order” for anyone to continue to parade himself as the APC governorship candidate in the state, afterwards.
Senator Abe is insisting that the APC should do the right thing and what is that right thing since the other primary was done in clear violation of an existing order of a court of competent jurisdiction, that the party should forward his name to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the party’s recognised governorship candidate in Rivers State, which of course, we all know that Rt. Hon Chibuike Amaechi would never allow that to happen. This is why I said the house is not in order. They lack unity and this is a serious problem for them.

Susan Serekara-Nwikhana

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PH Residents Hail Wike’s Dev Strides

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Even as elections are fast approaching, some residents of Port Harcourt, with the benefit of hindsight, take a look at where the state was when Governor Nyesom Wike assumed office and come to the inevitable conclusion that the Governor has performed creditably in several areas. They, however, express their desire for him to give more attention to several other areas, particularly during his second term if he wins the March 2, 2019 governorship election. Our correspondent captures their views. Excerpts.

Mr Ndulaka Oki-Onyedibia
I will give the Governor 75 percent because there are areas that he has performed so well and there are areas that need him to look into. Like the area of road, he has done very well so far. I would advise that he focus less now on this area and focus more attention on the education and health section.
The health and education sectors in the state need to be strengthened. These two areas are very critical for the welfare of the people living in Rivers State.
Mr David Michael Alumona
In my assessment of what Mr Project has done so far, I want to say that, indeed, he has really paid priority attention to infrastructure. He has constructed so many roads and I think if he is given the chance to continue, he would do more than he has done already.
This is the kind of person that Rivers State and Nigeria as a whole need, especially in the South-South, but what I think is still remaining for him to do is education. I still look forward to seeing him using his boldness and power as he has always done to boost the education sector by providing computers and all that is needed to make learning conducive for students.
Take for instance, the Mgboushimini Primary School. Since the existence of Oro-Akwor community, the people never had a primary school within that vicinity and through his intervention, there is now a primary school for everyone to attend freely and I commend him for that, but I want the work going on in that school to be faster than what it is now.
I am not talking about the fast pace of the job because of my interest, no, because my children have gone beyond secondary school, am talking for the sake of the less-privileged children in the society and because I love education.
I want to appeal to His Excellency, Chief Nyesom Wike to try as much as possible to monitor and remove some of the bad practices in the Rivers State University (RSU). Let admission be as free as that of Lagos State University (LASU), which is the second best state university in Nigeria after ABUSALI.
I want the governor to use his good offices to curb the excesses of some individuals at Rivers State University. We want him to put more pressure to sanitise the university system. I don’t want to go into details of these excesses, but I know His Excellency is aware of some of them in that university because he warned the school authorities sometimes ago, that he didn’t want to hear that they were still involved in these sharp practices that do not project the school’s image in positive light.
We need him to come back in 2019 and even after his tenure ends, we still need somebody like him that would have the boldness to withstand every opposition from within and without in order to safeguard the interest of the state and the entire South-South.
Infact, the entire South-South is looking up to the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike as one of the lions to fight for them and also defend them, so I want him to continue to remain there and I know with God on his side, they will not be able to do him anything.
All the strategies God has given to the governor to apply in order to make life comfortable for the people of the state, the opposition forces would always want to distract him from achieving the goals his administration has set for itself.
Take for instance, the Neighbourhood Safety Corps Agency, they knew he would be able to use it to secure the state, so they truncated that plan because they apparently have some hidden agenda.
I want to urge the governor to do everything possible to ensure the success of that security outfit because it is existing in other states and no military man has destroyed it in those states.
Let’s start by asking ourselves why is it that the security agencies including the military are always concentrating their attention in Rivers State? Is it because the Federal Government wants to turn the State which is ruled by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to an All Progressives Party (APC) state by fire by force because they know that the governor is like a lion that would not allow that to happen?
In the area of health, I want the Governor to focus his attention in this sector especially during his second term which he would secure by the grace of God. It is annoying to see that there are so many oil companies in Rivers State and yet they are not contributing to free education for our children, we that have the oil.
For our children to be educated, we are paying through our nose and I want the state government to go into agreement with these oil companies to provide free education to our children, especially in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions.
In the health sector, there is a bit improvement, but I want the governor to pay more attention on the health sector as people are dying every day, they spend money and pay through their noses to buy drugs. It is so sad that in Braithwaite Memorial Specialist Hospital (BMSH) for example, until you have a contact person, you will not be able to have your way through.
People are rushed to the hospital on emergencies and they die there as a result of no one to attend to them, this is unacceptable and I want the government to look into these issues.
In those days, when I was in secondary school in the old Bendel State, I saw that at the General Hospital, nurses and doctors were up and doing and the Pharmacies gave free drugs but today, no more. What happened in those olden days can’t they be brought back now? Are we retrogressing or progressing? We should please go back and reactivate all these things and boost them even the more.
Despite the fact that the World Health Organisation (WHO) is providing drugs, the people at the helm of affairs in these government hospitals are diverting these drugs to their private clinics for sale and direct patients to go to the chemists to go and buy fake drugs.
I am calling on the Rivers State Governor to put his ears, eyes down to monitor and sack anyone caught in this act.

Barr Allwell Friday, A Port Harcourt-Based Legal Practitioner,
I want to say that His Excellency, Governor Nyesom Wike has done so well in some areas, for instance, as a legal practitioner, I want to start from the justice sector. For instance, when he came on board, we were faced with the closure of our court system, infact, nothing was working in the judiciary as a result of the closure of the courts being masterminded by the previous administration but upon his assumption of office, our courts were re-opened, thereby granting access to both litigants and others to access justice and justice delivery.
Now, still on justice sector, before now, lawyers and litigants in Rivers State had problems in accessing National Industrial Court as we travelled all the way from Port Harcourt to Calabar and sometimes to Yenagoa in Bayelsa State, but the governor has erected a magnificent building for the National Industrial Court and currently as I speak to you, the court is erected here in Port Harcourt.
He has also remodelled and revamped the justice sector, for instance, the remodelling of the Court of Appeal in Rivers State, by building a befitting Federal High Court Complex and even the State High Court and Magistrate Courts were not also left out, so I want to say that in the justice sector and the welfare of the judiciary staff members, he has done so well.
The other area I want to talk about is the area of infrastructural development, he has tried in this area too as there are some roads that were in terrible state before his assumption of office like the SARS Road, Abel Jumbo Road, Saakpenwa-Bori Link Road. The Andoni Unity Ogoni Road have also received a boost and some other roads in the Borikiri axis, Town, and Aggrey Road axis. He has actually fixed all these roads and these are part of the infrastructural development as we all know that if the roads are not in good condition and not motorable, there is no way the economic lives of the people will be meaningful.
Still on infrastructural development, the Bori Grammar School has been fixed by him and so many other schools within the state that the governor has fixed including health centres which are put in place.
Now in the area of security, you agree with me that security and welfare are the primary purpose of every government as enshrined in the constitution. Now, His Excellency has also revamped the security architecture in the state by providing security vans and giving support to our military personnel in the state. This would in turn boost the security of lives and property of people in the state as there is no meaningful development that can take place in the atmosphere of insecurity, rancour and acrimony, so, by doing this to aid the security architecture in the state, you also agree with me that he has done well in that area.
However, as human beings, nobody is perfect, there are some areas that I feel His Excellency should look into, if God willing and he is re-elected as I believe he would succeed, I want to advise that he should look at the issue of employment, as our youths are crying for employment.
Although he has taken some giant steps in ensuring that youths are gainfully employed, those steps are not enough. The Rivers State Civil Service Commission should be empowered and mandated to carry out massive recruitment of our people in order to curb youth restiveness.
Another area I also want to advise him is for him to move to other local government areas to develop them as he has developed more in Port Harcourt, Obio/Akpor, Ikwerre LGAs even though he has also touched some other parts of the state, we want to advise that during his second term, greater attention should be paid to the riverine areas of the state.

Mr Success Chukwuma
His Excellency, Governor Nyesom Wike has done well in the area of infrastructure considering the ongoing construction of the Mile 1 Market and the Agip Road and so many roads he has constructed within his first term in office. These roads have improved access to many places and made life much more easier.
Looking at the areas he needs to improve on in his second term because I believe he is going to come back because his administration has positively impacted on the lives of the people, I know many people in Rivers State and even outside Rivers State would like to vote for him to complete most of the projects he has started.
Looking at the general view of people to his government, only very few have doubts about his performance, but I personally believe and the over 80 percent of the population believe that the Governor, has what it takes to return for second term as Rivers people and non-indigenes of the state are ready to cast their votes to bring him back.

Susan Serekara-Nwikhana

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