Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has urged the leadership of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to go beyond issuing of statements, to taking concrete actions against attacks on the nation’s Judiciary.
Wike gave the charge at the book presentation in honour of Justice Mary Odili as part of activities marking her retirement from the Supreme Court of Nigeria and her 70th Birthday celebration, which held at Dr. Obi Wali International Conference Centre in Port Harcourt, last Monday.
Governors present at the event were: Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia); Rt. Hon. Ahmadu Fintiri (Adamawa); Mr. Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom); Senator Douye Diri (Bayelsa); Samuel Ortom (Benue); Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu); and Engr Seyi Makinde (Oyo).
The governor expressed regrets at the NBA’s lacklustre approach to social change, which is more of a disservice to the nation and exposes it to contempt.
“What is even worrisome on the part of the president of the NBA is his failure to admit that the NBA, including the inner and outer Bar, which he leads, have failed in their responsibility to protect the rule of law and defend the judiciary from punitive intimidation and erosion of its independence by the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government.
“It is quite unfortunate that the NBA is only good at issuing bland statements of condemnation without more, while the judiciary continues to suffer ferocious bouts of harassment from a Federal Government that has become notorious for its contemptuous attitude towards the rule of law and the rights of Nigerians to an effective justice system.”
Wike also expressed his disagreement with some speakers in last Thursday’s valedictory court session organised in honour of Justice Odili, who laid the blame on politicians over the problems that the judiciary suffers.
Specifically, Wike said Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, speaking for the Body of Senior Advocates at the valedictory court session, identified corruption as the bane of the Nigerian Judiciary and pointed fingers of responsibility at politicians, lawyers and the Federal Government.
Wike noted that while the learned Senior Advocate was largely correct with respect to the issues of forum shopping by lawyers and the intimidation of the courts by the Federal Government, he was, however, wrong in his allusion to political cases as responsible for the debasement of Nigerian courts.
“Now, if I may ask: are lawyers not behind the contemptuous criticisms of judges by clients? How many lawyers have withdrawn from political cases in protest against unwarranted castigation of the court by clients?
“How many lawyers have withdrawn their services to clients on account of frivolous petitions against the court without their consent? Who are those who advice politicians to reach out to judges? Where are the lawyers that have ever advised their clients against reaching out to judges handling their matters?
“For me, let us stop the scapegoating and tell ourselves the truth that as lawyers, most of us are all involved in this despicable conduct, perpetrating the same evil, only at different levels because of our predisposition for success through backdoors without any regard to the damage we are doing to the reputation of the entire judicial system.”
The governor said the Federal Government had in 2016 unleashed premeditated midnight raids on judges’ homes, including the Justices of the Supreme Court, in Abuja, Port Harcourt, Gombe, Kano, Enugu and Sokoto states.
“In 2020, when the sanctity of Justice Mary Odili’s home was violated by hired members of the APC over the Supreme Court’s judgement that sacked the party’s governorship candidate for Bayelsa State, the NBA just condemned it, without any further follow-up action to forestall a reoccurrence.”
Wike also pointed out that there was need not also lose sight of the fact that the Judiciary is also a problem to itself because it is weak and incapable of asserting and safeguarding its independence from the predatory tendencies of other arms of government.
He noted that when judges are lacking in courage and integrity, they easily give up to improper pressure, influence and control, and the entire Judiciary suffers.
Wike assured that if elected the President of Nigeria in 2023, he will work with the National Assembly to prioritize the welfare of all judicial officers, including the provision of official cars and life-long accommodation as we have done here in Rivers State.
“With me on the saddle as the President and Commander-in-Chief, the Judiciary in Nigeria shall be in safe good hands and Nigerians will again experience the glorious days of an independent, vibrant and progressive Judiciary.”
In her remarks, former Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, Justice Mary Odili, noted that though Nigerian judges are among the best in the world, they have never been treated right.
“A lot has been said about judges, judgements and corruption and what have you. The truths be told, the Nigerian judges have not been treated right, and the truth has not been said of Nigerian judges who in my view are the very best in the world. I’ve not delivered any judgement and have gone to sleep easily.”
Justice Odili, who was the first lady of Rivers State between 1999 to 2007, expressed delight that some of her judgements have been published for the public to assess.
“I am very happy that some of my judgements have been captured in print. And as I peeped through the judgements of those big judges and magistrates of the old Bendel State, my own judgements are now in the open for everyone to look at. All anyone can say is that she didn’t apply the law properly here; she did not understand the law properly. But, no one can ever say she gave judgement because of an interest in the matter.”
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues, described Justice Odili as an epitome of humility.
Chairman of the occasion and former president of the Nigerian Bar Association, Onueze C.J.Okocha, SAN, noted that Justice Odili served the country meritoriously, honourably and without blemish to her character.
The five books written in honour of Justice Mary Odili are: Judicial Journey of Hon. Justice Mary U. Peter Odili; Essays in honour of Hon. Justice Mary Ukaego Peter Odili; Icon and On: Leading judgements on women’s rights in Nigeria in honour of Justice Mary Peter Odili; Mary Odili and the Law: Legal essays and Understanding the administration of criminal justice in Nigeria through the eyes of Hon. Justice Mary Ukaego Peter Odili.
Your Resilience Has Kept You Afloat, PHALGA Boss Tells RSNC … Says The Tide Remains Long-Term Partner
The Mayor of Port Harcourt City Local Government Council, Sir Alwell Ihunda, has praised the giant strides and resilience of Rivers State Newspaper Corporation (RSNC), publishers of The Tide Newspapers more than 50 years after its establishment by the Rivers State Government.
Ihunda, who said this during a courtesy call by the management of RSNC, said the council was elated that The Tide has consistently remained on the newsstands for more than 50 years, adding that the council was looking forward to joining in the celebration of the golden jubilee anniversary of the corporation.
The mayor, who was represented by the council Secretary, Barrister Chile Kay Owuru, said The Tide has continued to deliver on its mandate and serve the Government and people of Rivers State in spite of obvious challenges.
He also praised the newspaper for standing behind the council during the recent struggle to ensure that the provisions of the Constitution were no longer brazenly breached by the Federal Ministry of Internal Affairs, which had been conducting marriages at illegal Marriage Registries across the country.
Ihunda also said the council would work to ensure that all commercial transport vehicles operating between #1 to 10, Ikwerre Road and under all parts of the Abali Flyover relocate to the main Abali Motor Park, which has been renovated and upgraded by the council to accommodate more vehicles.
He regretted that the commercial transport and illegal business activities taking place around the area have facilitated the operations of criminal elements who have been terrorising unsuspecting members of the public, and assured that the council was synergising with relevant authorities to restore sanity to the area.
The mayor also assured that the public health issues associated with the huge refuse dumpsite at Njemanze Street in Rumuwoji (Mile One) area would be addressed.
Ihunwo further promised to work out partnership strategies that would enable both the corporation and the council mutually leverage the opportunities that abound in the RSNC’s Business Development portfolio, especially in the area of commercial printing jobs, among others.
Earlier, the General Manager of the corporation, Chief Ernest Chinwo, said the meeting was initiated with the understanding that the mayor would use his position to facilitate mutually beneficial engagements between the council and the RSNC while also creating value added window to interact with the membership of ALGON in the state with a view to eliciting their support and partnership to boost the corporation’s fortunes.
Chinwo said every Rivers man should be proud of The Tide as the only surviving state-owned newspaper regularly in the newsstands since its founding, noting that the newspaper has continued to wax stronger despite all the challenges since it was established in 1971.
According to him, The Tide was the only surviving paper on South-South and South-East that has been regular on the newsstands, saying that the corporation was not only involved in newspaper publishing but also undertakes all kinds of printing jobs.
The general manager also called on the mayor to look into the health hazard posed by the refuse dumpsite at Njamanze Street, stressing that the site has recently constituted serious threat to the health of the people in the area.
He also called the attention of the mayor to the proliferation of illegal motor parks and markets around the Abali flyover and along the rail line, adding that criminals have used the area as fertile ground for perpetrating all kinds of unwholesome activities.
By: John Bibor
Kick Insensitive APC Govt Out With Your PVCs, PDP Charges Nigerians
As the 2023 elections gather momentum, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has charged Nigerians to kick the All Progressives Congress (APC) out with their Permanent Voters Card (PVC)
PDP National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, stated this, yesterday, during a sensitisation campaign for the collection of Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) in Abuja.
The party’s national publicity secretary; National Women Leader, Prof. Stella Effa-Attoe; and National Youth Leader, Mohammed Sulieman; led the campaign around the streets of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Ologunagba said the campaign was to sensitise Nigerians, particularly youths and women on the need to participate actively in the democratic process by collecting permanent voter cards and ensuring that they participate in the 2023 general election.
He said, “Against the backdrop of the fact that we have an APC government that is insensitive, that is rudderless, that completely failed this country, they lied to us in 2015, came to power by fraud and propaganda.”
Ologunagba lamented that the APC-led Federal Government has made life difficult for most Nigerians.
He said, “As the party of the people that believe in the sanctity of life and that our children need the future where on their own, they can achieve their goals and live a life where they can aspire to be anything in Nigeria.
“So, we are urging all youth and women to come out en mass to pick up their PVCs and those who have not registered to take advantage of the window now available by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to come out and register”.
He assured the electorate that their votes will count in 2023, adding that “we have seen how APC has destroyed the country, get your PVC and vote them out”.
Also speaking, the PDP National Youth Leader, Mohammed Suleiman, said the failure of the APC government was enough to motivate Nigerians to kick them out.
“We have seen what is happening in the country, the rate of unemployment, insecurity, students, is at home for over five months and the economy is messed up. So, we believe those comments you’re seeing on social media will turn to vote come 2023.
“We have 36 state youth leaders, we have six zonal leaders, we’re all working together to mobilize Nigerians so that they can vote for the PDP come 2023″.
See IOCs’ Divestments As Blessing, NUPRC Charges IPPG
The Chief Executive of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), Gbenga Komolafe, has urged stakeholders in the petroleum industry, especially the Independent Petroleum Producers in Nigeria (IPPG) to look at the brighter side of the divestments of International Oil Companies (IOCs) as many opportunities for local players abound.
Komolafe gave the charge at the opening dinner of the ongoing Nigerian oil and gas conference holding in Abuja, yesterday.
According to him, local players now have a golden opportunity to prove their mettle by leveraging the local content window in value addition and optimising the development of the nation’s hydrocarbon resources.
He emphasised the need for indigenous players across the value chain to deploy their ingenuity in promoting vibrancy and capacity utilisation in the industry
“As a regulator, the commission is not oblivious of the threat posed to the development of the Nigerian hydrocarbon industry by the divestment of the IOCs.
“The impetus for divestment by the IOC is mainly attributable to the hostile upstream petroleum environment arising from crude oil theft and energy transition as a global response to the advocacy for reduction in carbon emissions.
“Our view as a commission is that IPPG and other prospective indigenous players should perceive the IOCs’ divestment in some of the upstream assets as an opportunity rather than a threat to the development of the Nigerian upstream petroleum sector,” he said.
Speaking further, Komolafe noted that indigenous companies presently contribute about 30percent of the nation’s crude oil and 20percent of the gas production, as well as 40percent and 32percent of oil and gas reserves, respectively.
He also informed that seven indigenous companies are among the top 20 companies with the highest oil reserves in Nigeria.
He further disclosed that 57 fields were offered for awards in 2020 to indigenous operators, resulting in the issuance of 102 Petroleum Prospecting Licenses (PPLs) by the commission on June 28, 2022.
“It is worthy to note that Nigeria has the largest participation of local independents in the domestic oil and gas industry activities of all petroleum-producing countries in Africa arising from the robust local content policy.
“It is estimated that the energy demand across Africa in 2040 would increase by about 30percent compared to the current level. Consequently, the divestment of the IOC away from our onshore and shallow water terrains presents a massive opportunity for new operators of those assets, which the IPPG is better positioned to take advantage of in order to meet the increasing energy demand.
“The commission expects the IPPG to stay competitive, optimise future energy security and be resilient in our oil and gas extractive industry”, Komolafe stated.
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