The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, has condemned in strong terms, the attack on Rivers State Judiciary Complex.
Onnoghen said the act was not only disturbing but was a complete show of shame which ought not to be encouraged by right-thinking members of the Nigerian public.
The CJN made this statement in reaction to the brazen attack on the Port Harcourt High Court Complex, last Friday.
In a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja, Onnoghen recalled that the act was carried out in order to stop the court from giving its ruling in an intra-party dispute of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
According to the reports, the attack took place as judges, magistrates, staff and lawyers reported for duty at the said Rivers State High Court Complex in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital while judicial and non-judicial staff were denied access to the complex as all the gates were padlocked and the buildings surrounded by hoodlums.
“These hoodlums, who were said to be heavily armed, reportedly inflicted bodily harm to judicial officers and other staff of the Judiciary going about their lawful duties, and destroyed some properties belonging to the Judiciary,” the CJN stated.
He further stated that “this action was aimed at stopping the court from sitting and delivering a ruling in an intra-party dispute of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in respect of the local government congresses of the party in the state.
“This latest act of intimidation of the Judiciary and the unwarranted violence against a peaceful institution of an arm of government is quite disturbing. More importantly, such show of shame ought not to be encouraged by right-thinking members of the Nigerian public.
“If the enemies of our peace and democracy succeed or get away with what occurred at the High Court in Port-Harcourt, it would be a source of encouragement to them to do same to the Court of Appeal, and ultimately, the Supreme Court of Nigeria, whenever any one of them perceives that a judgment may be delivered against any of them or the interests they represent,” Onnoghen added.
He also said that, “the Judiciary remains the last hope of the common man, and our judges and judicial officers are called upon to remain true to their Oath of Office. They must remain focused, resolute, and courageous, regardless of the effort at intimidating them”, and further urged all Nigerians to continue to have faith in the Judiciary of the nation.
“Any person with a legitimate complaint against another person, organisation or institution is advised to employ the civilised and legal mode of redress as contained and guaranteed by our Constitution.
“Whoever is dissatisfied with the outcome of decisions of our courts of law has the right of appeal as constitutionally guaranteed. The Judiciary will never fail in its duties.
“Violence, the type visited on the Judiciary of Rivers State, is alien to any civilised society, and therefore, condemnable,” he emphasised.
Onnoghen also noted, with grave concern, that this magnitude of violence could be visited on the Judiciary during a ward/local government intra-party primary election, and wonders what the situation would be during the forthcoming general elections in 2019.
The chief justice, however, commended security agencies for bringing the chaos under control, thereby allowing the affected judge to go ahead and deliver the ruling on the matter, but warned that attacks on the Judiciary was a disaster that would end democracy in Nigeria as parties would resort to self-help in the absence of the Judiciary or confidence in the Judiciary as an arbiter.
The CJN also seized the opportunity to reiterate the commitment of the Judiciary to expeditious hearing of all political matters to avoid escalating political tension in the country, and advised judicial officers to go about their lawful duties without fear or favour.
Similarly, the former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Prince Chibudom Nwuche has condemned the invasion of the Rivers State High Court by thugs in an attempted bid to stop the court from sitting and discharging its constitutional duties to the generality of Nigerians.
Nwuche said that “such action of self-help, apart from being unconstitutional, is capable of truncating our hard won democracy and plunging our country into anarchy”.
He advised politicians not to allow their quest for power to undermine democracy and societal values, and condemned the abuse of power inherent in the attempt to disallow the courts from sitting.
“We must at all times abide by the rule of law and show utmost respect for the Judiciary as a critical organ of civilised societies and our democracy. No society can exist without respect for the law and it’s institutions”, Nwuche said.
He urged politicians to remember that power was ephemeral, adding that they would one day become ordinary citizens, who would live amongst other Nigerians, and be responsible in their use of power.
Nwuche, who had earlier condemned the attempt by a faction of the Rivers State APC to write names of their cronies instead of allowing proper ward congresses where party members would choose their preferred candidates, wondered why simple congresses should lead to the degeneration in law and order.
“Any party executive that is imposed in this undemocratic and unjust manner will never enjoy the confidence of the masses of supporters and will lead to the party losing any free and fair elections,” Nwuche noted.
“The action of the party leaders who are bent on imposing their will against the generality of party supporters may lead to people leaving the party in protest at the impunity. This is especially when many party supporters are already disgruntled on account of persecution by certain office holders who are using their offices to oppress party members,” he stated.
He urged the APC at the national level to intervene in the crisis and reschedule the congresses to allow the will of members to prevail in an atmosphere devoid of intimidation.
Nwuche further argued that it would be illogical to have LGA congresses when there was no ward congress, as it was impossible to build something on nothing.
PH Law School Campus’ll Be Best, Chiroma Confirms
Director General, Nigerian Law School, Prof Isa Hayatu Chiroma, has expressed optimism that the new Port Harcourt campus of the institution would be the best in the country.
Chiroma made the assertion when he paid a working visit to inspect ongoing civil construction work at the Nabo Bekinbo Graham-Douglas Campus of the Nigerian Law School in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
The director general was accompanied the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, to assess progress of work at both the Nabo Graham Douglas Campus, Rumueme and staff quarters at New Government Residential Area, Port Harcourt.
He expressed gratitude to the state government for the intervention to build and deliver the Port Harcourt campus in order to help address the challenge of inadequate lecture and accommodation space for the ever-increasing number of students seeking to acquire vocational legal training at the current campuses of the Nigerian Law School in the country.
“The last time we were here was when the ground-breaking ceremony took place, and today, there is massive construction going on, and there is progress. I want to thank the governor and the good people of Rivers State for this progress.”
Chiroma, who observed that the teeming rainy season in Rivers State has slowed down the pace of work, noted that the amazing aspect of the project is that the quality of materials used for the raft foundation at the Nabo Bekinbo Graham-Douglas campus is world class.
“The kind of materials used with what we have seen on ground, it is unimaginable, it is excellent. I can assure you that the problem we will be having is about our students, who will prefer to be posted to this place with what I have seen.
“That is the battle we are going to be faced with. But, I can assure you that all our Law School Campus are the same, but with the development going on here, it is going to be a problem for us to decide who comes to Port Harcourt. From what I have seen it is going to be the best.”
Facilities under construction at the Port Harcourt campus will comprise 14 structures, including 1,500-capacity classroom blocks, hostel blocks, students’ multipurpose hall, 16 units’ 3-bedroom flat staff quarters with swimming pool, gymnasium and lawn tennis court.
Other facilities are, library, moot court/law clinic building, sick bay, administrative block, cafeteria and sporting facilities for students.
Nigeria, Suffering From Leadership Failure, Wike Affirms
Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has said that it was regrettable that 61 years after Independence, Nigeria was still grappling with leadership challenge.
The governor pointed out that because of such leadership failure, Nigeria was now at a point in its history needing God more than ever.
Wike made the assertion at the Interdenominational Church Service organised in commemoration of the 61st Independence Anniversary of Nigeria at the St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
The governor stated that there was hardly anything for Nigerians to celebrate as the country marks 61st Independence anniversary because its leadership continues to entrench hatred, mediocrity, promote ethnicity and religion.
“This is the time that Nigeria needs God more. The country is gone. Insecurity everywhere! Everyone needs to say God; we need you because man’s leadership has failed this country.”
The governor noted that, perhaps, the only thing Nigerians can boast of celebrating was the existence of the name, Nigeria.
“At 61 years, Nigeria is full of enmity, full of divisions, hatred, and ethnicity: A country that cannot put itself together.
“Everybody has responsibility; so, ask yourself questions, have I done my own part?”
Wike also observed the sorry state of Nigeria, and said at 61, it was far removed from being a country that can compete favourably with prosperous countries of the world, given its abundant resources.
The governor bemoaned what has become of the nation’s Legislature that continues to approve anything for the Presidency, and not minding the consequences.
He also decried how the nation’s Judiciary has succumbed to intimidation because its judges have abandoned their responsibilities out of fear, and wondered what fate Nigerians would have under such seeming tyrannical atmosphere.
“We cannot do the right things. Other countries are talking about how their elections will be transparent; we are talking about how we will rig the election in 2023.
“Simple thing, transmit election results electronically to show transparency, that really that the person you’re declaring won the election but we are afraid.”
“Where is the Legislature? A Legislature that cannot think, a Legislature, anything they bring is right, a Legislature that cannot say that Nigeria has nothing to regret from conducting free and fair election.
“A Legislature that you’ll close your eyes, anything they bring, about borrowing, you say borrow. A Legislature that cannot say that this money we are borrowing, where is it? Where are you applying it? You have no confidence to ask questions.
“The courts have been intimidated. The judges have abandoned their responsibilities out of fear. You’re seeing something that is wrong, but because you will be summoned in the night, you abandoned your responsibility.”
Wike also blamed the woes the country has suffered on all Nigerians who have refused to do the right things, but rather allowed the wrong things to be perpetrated in all facets of the society.
He noted how ascendancy to leadership was no longer by merit but by ethnic affinity and religious consideration, even when such persons do not have the capacity required to function in such offices.
Speaking further, Wike berated the church leadership over the inordinate dressing of a young man that he saw in the church, and attributed such sight to lack of enforcement of discipline in the church.
In his sermon, Bishop of the Diocese of Niger Delta North, Rt. Rev. Wisdom Ihunwo, noted that only foolish people despise God and attribute their successes in life to personal efforts and ingenuity.
Ihunwo said such foolish people abound in Nigeria because they have hearts of corruption, treat humanity with disdain and delight in doing abominable things and divert public funds for personal use.
According to Ihunwo, it was baffling that despite having leadership over the country, there was unabated spree of killings, a seemingly thriving kidnapping business with some officers of the military killed without drastic measures taken to return Nigeria to the path of sanity.
While charging the church to rise to speak courageously against wickedness in the land, Ihunwo declared the judgement of God upon the sponsors of such killings and kidnapping that have put Nigeria in a pitiable state that its people cannot celebrate independence of the country at 61 years.
Special prayers were said at the service for God’s favour and grace upon Nigeria and its leaders, Rivers State Executive Council, Judiciary and the Legislature, for the governor and his family, as well as the church and its leaders.
Dreams To Achieve Peace, Dev In N’Delta Achieved, FG Boasts
The Interim Administrator, Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Col. Milland Dixon Dikio, has said that the Federal Government has achieved its dream of moving the Niger Delta from incessant protest to peace and development.
Dikio said this, last weekend, when an ex-militant, High Chief Biobopere Ajube, was conferred with a chieftaincy title in Arogbo Ijaw Ibe, Beleukoriwei (Pathfinder) by the Paramount Ruler of the kingdom, Pere Zaccheaus Doubara Ebgunu, in his palace in Arogbo, Ondo State.
According to him, the present administration has succeeded in curtailing the restiveness in the region through engagements with the ex-militants.
He assured them that government would not renege in its promises to ensure that the region and its people are developed.
Dikio called on ex-agitators to emulate the disposition of Ajube in peace and entrepreneurship.
He lauded Ajube for leading the charge for a peaceful and prosperous Niger Delta, noting that he was the face of what can happen in the region.
According to him, “with the likes of Ajube, who had undertaken the task of having 400 ex-agitators trained in his Bradama facility under the PAP’s Train, Employ and Mentor (TEM) model, the dream of moving the Niger Delta from incessant protest to peace and development is achievable.
“We’re here to tell this community and indeed the world what Ajube means to us. He is very special and we’re excited that he bought into our vision in PAP which is tailored to change the narrative in the region.
“He took the lead of our Train, Employ and Mentor initiative and has pledged to have 400 of our people trained in his facility.
“He is the face of what can happen in the region and there is no doubt that with people like him, the Niger Delta can truly be the place to live and do business”
Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, who was represented by his Deputy, Hon Lucky Aiyedatiwa, described Ajube as a proud son of Ondo, who had made a tremendous impact in the lives of his people.
He said the honour was a testament of all he had been doing for his people, and urged him not to relent but extend similar gestures to other parts of the state.
“We’re gathered here to celebrate a man who through self-development and engagement is where he is today. We’re proud of him as a true son of Ondo State. All he thinks about is development, peace and empowerment which is a good thing”.
Also speaking, former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Timi Alaibe said Ajube, during the height of militancy in the Niger Delta, was grossly misunderstood by the Federal Government but as head of the Amnesty Programme, he stood firmly by his side, to explain that he meant well.
He said, “This honour is well deserved. The story and struggle of the emancipation and dealing with the issues in the Niger Delta will not be complete without the mention of High Chief Bibopere Ajube. The story is deep for some of us.
“So, I’m proud that we’re gathered here to celebrate peace, excellence, leadership, strive for sustainable development, honest, and sincere man that loves his God. I know him when he had nothing. He is a man that has the interest of his people in his heart”.
The Traditional Ruler of Arogbo Ijaw Ibe, Pere Zaccheaus Doubara Ebgunu, said it was not a mistake that Ajube was honoured with the highest title, noting that the kingdom has been blessed by him and decided to display that by conferring the prestigious title on him.
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