CJN Blasts APC Over Attack On Court …Says Action Signals Danger For Democracy …It’s Politics Taken Too Far -Nwuche

Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike (right), waving to traders from the top floor of the new Mile One Market under construction, yesterday. With him is the Project Manager.

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.