Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has said that in the last seven and half years, his administration has diligently supported the Judiciary to discharge its constitutional mandate.
The governor said all the promises his administration made to the people concerning the Judiciary have been fulfilled with impressive achievements beyond the imagination of many.
Wike made the assertion in his remarks at the 2022/23 Legal Year opening ceremony at the Rivers State Judiciary Complex, Port Harcourt, last Wednesday.
The governor noted that as the third arm of government, the Judiciary plays a critical role in advancing the rule of law, justice and good governance.
He noted that on assumption of office in 2015, his administration met a Judiciary in Rivers State that was at crossroads.
“The State High Court had no chief judge, leadership, or direction for nearly two years. The governor then attempted to impose a chief judge on the state outside due process. When this devious attempt was resisted, he instigated a phantom crisis and closed down the state’s courts until he left office.
“We knew that the ensuing social and economic anarchy would ruin Rivers State without functional courts to uphold and defend the rule of law. Beyond the crisis, we also inherited a Judiciary neglected to the hilt, dilapidated and inadequate courthouses, and unpaid salary arrears.
“Our first task was to revive the Judiciary and ensure the speedy administration of justice. Without wasting time, we appointed the first female chief judge for the state, reopened the courts, and restored judicial services from our first day in office.”
He explained that his administration began rehabilitating the existing courthouses and built new ones for the State High Court.
Wike added that within the first year in office, he provided a new Special Utility Vehicles (SUVs) to judges as official cars, which have since been replaced since 2019.
The governor said that prior to his administration, judges in the state were faced with the challenge of lack of retirement home.
According to him, the government considered it morally wrong for the state to evict judges from their official quarters and force them to rented apartments after they retired from service.
“We, therefore, enacted the Judicial Officers Housing Scheme Law, and took over the responsibility of providing life-long residences for Rivers State judges, including those serving in federal jurisdictions.
“We have since implemented this law by providing 4-bedroom duplexes with appurtenances, including security and regular electricity at the ChinweAgumaJudicial Estate, to our judges.
“Similarly, those who opted not to reside in the estate were given an equivalent monetary value to build or buy similar houses.”
To further strengthen the judicial system, the governor said his administration was presently constructing a new ultra-modern magistrates’ court complex to relocate all the magistrates’ courts from the premises of the State High Court Complex.
He said the state government has also completed the Justice Mary Odili Judicial Institute, to complement the National Judicial Institute to provide relevant training and capacity building for Rivers State judges and magistrates to enhance their competences for effective service delivery.
The governor maintained that his administration has also been releasing the capital and recurrent budgets of the Judiciary from 2015 to date.
According to him, three weeks ago, the state government released over 80percent of the 2022 Judiciary’s capital votes to the state’s chief judge.
Moved by the need to expand access to the Nigerian Law School and reduce the admission backlog, the governor said the state government had requested and secured the approval of the Federal Government to build a new campus in Port Harcourt.
“We recently delivered the Nabo Graham-Douglas Campus of the Nigerian Law School to the Council of Legal Education to fulfil this promise. With a carrying capacity of over 1,500 boarding students, this campus ranks as the best law school campus in Nigeria, and will remain so for a long time.”
Furthermore, he said at the request of the Director General of the Nigerian Law School, the Rivers State Government built twin 900-bed capacity hostels and a 1,500-sitting-capacity auditorium for the YenagoaCampus of the Nigerian Law School.
Wike said he remains confident that his successor would sustain a more robust relationship with the Judiciary in the state.
In his remarks, the Chief Judge of Rivers State, Hon. Justice Simeon Amadi, commended Wike for his immense support for the Judiciary in the state.
Justice Amadi urged lawyers in the state to avail themselves of the benefits of the Multi-door Court established to ensure greater access to mediated dispute settlements, especially for the business and investment community.
He explained that the state Judiciary generated over N1.2billion in the current legal year.
On his part, the Rivers State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof. ZacchaeusAdangor, SAN, described as sacrilegious unguarded verbal attacks against judges by lawyers.
Adangor said unguarded verbal attacks drain the confidence of judges, and called on lawyers to desist from castigating the judges.
Speaking on behalf of the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Onueze C.J. Okocha, SAN, observed that the Judiciary was still plagued by slow dispensation of justice.
Okocha, who was the former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), suggested that to overcome this challenge, states should be allowed to determine the number of judges and magistrates they need.
Also speaking, Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Port Harcourt Branch, Barrister Victor Benibo, commended Wike for his immense contributions to the advancement of legal profession in the state and the country.
Earlier, the governor and his wife, Hon. Justice Eberechi Suzzette Nyesom-Wike, the Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, and other top government functionaries had attended a special church service at St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral Church in Port Harcourt to mark the beginning of the 2022/2023 Legal Year.
NBA Shuns Call To Bar Event Over Olanipekun’s Refusal To Resign
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), yesterday, boycotted the Call to Bar ceremony of 4,711 new lawyers that were admitted into the legal profession.
The legal body, in a statement by its National President, Mr. Yakubu Maikyau (SAN), said its decision to shun the ceremony was based on the refusal of the Chairman of the Body of Benchers (BoB), Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), to resign.
NBA, the umbrella body of legal practitioners in the country, said it had in a letter it also copied to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, asked Olanipekun to step aside as leader of the BoB.
The call followed a claim by a leading partner in his chamber, Ms. Adekunbi Ogunde, that he influenced judges to deliver favourable judgements for his clients.
The NBA said it had, in view of the weighty nature of Ogunde’s claim and the negative impact it has on the overall image and integrity of the legal profession in the country, urged Olanipekun to allow his Vice, Justice Mary Odili (rtd), to preside over the Call to Bar ceremony scheduled for yesterday and today.
In the statement made available to newsmen, Maikyau, noted that he had in the said letter dated December 4, made position of the association known to the BoBchairman.
“In that letter, I requested the chairman of the BoB to recuse himself from presiding over the Call to Barceremony scheduled for December 6 and 7, 2022, for reasons clearly articulated therein.
“I sent the letter to the chairman and all Benchers by email on December 4, 2022, I also submitted a hard copy of the letter on December 5, 2022 to the Secretary of the BoB along with 150 copies of the letter for circulation to all Benchers.
“It would be recalled that my predecessor-in-office had, on July 22, 2022, written to the chairman of the BoB to recuse himself from office on the same grounds set out in my letter.
“But the chairman refused to acknowledge the said letter nor bring it up for consideration more than five months since its delivery to the BoB.
“My present letter is to bring to attention the earlier call made by my predecessor and to emphasise the damage being done to the legal profession by reason of our collective silence over such devastating issue, with the expectation that the chairman will see reason to show remorse and for the BoB to ask the chairman to recuse himself knowing that no one is bigger than the legal profession.
“At the meeting of the BoB held on December 5, 2022, I drew the attention of the chairman to my letter and called for deliberations on same, since it directly impacts on the propriety of the chairman presiding over the Call to Bar ceremony.
“But these were neither done nor were the hard copies of the letter distributed to the Benchers.
“The meeting of the BoB was adjourned to January, 2023, on a date to be fixed by the chairman.
“In the circumstances, therefore, having regard to my firm persuasion that the matters raised in my letter should have led the BoB to ask the chairman to recuse himself in the interest of safeguarding the integrity of the legal profession, I am in good conscience unable to attend and participate in the Call to Barceremony.
“The NBA under my leadership cannot be part of the ceremony superintended by the current chairman of the BoB for all the reasons stated in my letter under reference.
“To do so will be to endorse, celebrate or condone a practice that I consider unwholesome and unprofessional, by virtue of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners 2007.
“I assure all members of the NBA that the sole motivation for my letter to the BoB is my conviction on the need to salvage the image, reputation, and integrity of the legal profession in Nigeria, which has been negatively impacted by the email by a Partner in the Law Firm of the Chairman of the BoB,AdekunbiOgunde.
“I congratulate our colleagues – the new wigs, for the great feat they have attained by fulfilling the requirements for joining the noble profession of Law.
“I pray that God Almighty will keep and preserve them as they contribute their quota in building the legal profession and the nation at large.
“The NBA remains committed to the protection of our legal space and shall spare no effort to stop any external incursions or actions amongst members that can destroy our dear profession of law.
The BoB is a statutory body that is responsible for the formal call to Bar of persons seeking to become legal practitioners as well as disciplining of erring lawyers.
Members of the body are categorised into Benchers and Life Benchers.
According to the NBA, Olanipekun’s partner, Ogunde, sent an email to Saipem Contracting Nigeria Ltd to solicit for a brief, after the Rivers State Government preferred charges against the company over allegations of $130million fraud.
Though the firm of Henry Ajumogobia (SAN) was already defending the company, however, Ogunde allegedly told the management to consider hiring Olanipekun& Co to take over the case.
NBA noted that Ogunde had in the said email, claimed that her principal, Olanipekun(SAN), has more “influence” with judges across all courts.
“A quick research about WoleOlanipekun& Co. will show that the law firm is the leading litigation firm that has helped other multinationals in sensitive, highly political matters.
“It will also reveal that the presence of our lead partner, Olanipekun in the matter will significantly switch things in favour of SAIPEM.
“Chief Olanipekun is currently the chairman of the Body of Benchers, which is the highest ruling body in the Nigerian legal profession, made up of Supreme Court Judges, Presiding Justices of the Court of Appeal and Chief Judges of all State High Courts, including the Rivers State High Court.
“In order words, Olanipekun is the head of the entire legal profession in Nigeria.
“WoleOlanipekun& Co. has also helped other multinationals, such as in the famous cases of MTN tax dispute, Shell Petroleum, Equinor (former Statoil) dispute etc., avoid huge pay outs in more complex, sensitive and highly-political matters,” NBA quoted Ogunde’s email to have read in part.
It insisted that Olanipekun’s resignation will help to salvage the image, reputation and integrity of the BoB and the legal profession.
Meanwhile, in his speech at the Call to Bar ceremony, Olanipekun, maintained that though the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC), is under his chairmanship, he stressed that the committee operates independently and “not controlled in any way or manner by either the Body or its chairman”.
He said: “Howbeit, may I caution that proceedings before the LPDC should not be politicised, sensationalised, publicised and advertised in advance or while the proceedings are ongoing, by complainants for whatever reason, howsoever, as so doing negates the principle of fair hearing, which all lawyers subscribe to.
“This is apart from the fact that such steps might pre-empt and prejudice the proceedings band decisions of the LPDC”.
On his part, the Director-General of the Nigerian Law School, Prof. Isa HayatuChiroma(SAN), said the 4,711 new lawyers that were admitted into the Bar, yesterday, met all the required conditions that were set by the Council of Legal Education.
…Warns Against More Attacks On Integrity Govs ….Tells Atiku To Call PDP PCC To Order Wike’s Projects Laced With Poverty …Reduction Contents -Mimiko
Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has urged the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, to call to order members of the Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) of the party, and stop them from attacking the G5 governors.
Wike warned that any further attack would attract the wrath of the Integrity Group, threatening that together with the G5; they would not hesitate to strike back.
The Rivers State governor gave the warning, last Monday, at the flag-off of the Indorama-Agbonchia-Ogale-Ebubu-East-West Link Road in Eleme Local Government Area of the state.
Former governor of Ondo State, Dr.Olusegun Mimiko, performed the flag-off.
Wike stated that the G5 governors were lovers of peace, and believe that all party members should embrace peace so that together, they can work to secure electoral victory for the party in the 2023 elections.
“Now, what I want to tell the presidential candidate of PDP is: we need peace. We want all of us to be together for the party to win election. But let me say it clearly: if your boys continue to attack the G-5 (governors), continue to attack the leaders of our party, we will strike back. If anybody, again, dares in the PDP Presidential Campaign Council, to insult the PDP governors (G-5), insult our leaders of Integrity Group, we’ll fight back. Enough is enough.”
The governor also said it was ludicrous for persons who defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC), and abandoned the PDP at its trying moment, to dictate to him and his associates what to do in the party.
“We want peace. All we want is equity, fairness and justice. Nobody should take us for granted. I cannot understand people who just left APC two days ago, two weeks ago, are talking about PDP that we stayed and suffered to build. Even if anybody will talk about us, not these miscreants”
Wike described the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, YakubuDogara, as a man who cannot stand by his word.
The governor remarked that soon, he would reveal content of discussion both Dogara and the former Secretary to the Federal Government,BabachirLawal, had with him at his residence when they visited.
“At the appropriate time, I will talk about how Dogara and Babachir visited me, and what we agreed. You know what I don’t like in life is people that don’t have character. I can’t stand it. At the appropriate time, I will challenge them for a debate.”
He recalled how Dogara had evaded an appointment they were to have, and surreptitiously left the PDP to join the APC.
“Dogara was to see me. Unknown to me, he gave me an excuse, and I was watching Dogara on TV being received by President MuhammaduBuhari that he has gone to APC.”
Speaking further, Wike reiterated that the Executive Order 21 was still in force in the state to protect public facilities.
He remarked that people had gone to misrepresent the intent of Order 21 before the Inspector General of Police, claiming that his administration was preventing other political parties from campaigning in the state.
Wike told political parties wanting to hold their events within government facilities and schools, to apply and meet the terms.
He said those who were threatening to disobey the Executive Order of the government should be prepared to bear the consequences.
The Rivers State governor explained that the request for the construction of the road was made by PDP political leaders from Eleme who were desirous for the development of their community.
Wike urged the people of Eleme to thwart the senatorial ambition of former Nigerian Ambassador to The Netherlands, Hon Orji Ngofa, who hails from there for his gross failure to attract any dividends of democracy to the area.
The governor assured the people that PDP governorship candidate, Sir SiminialayiFubara, and others, when elected, would move the state forward in terms of development.
Performing the flag-off, former governor of Ondo State, Dr.OlusegunMimiko, described the project delivery mantra of Wike as phenomenal.
The project in focus, he noted, was part of the different and impressive dimensions in which Wike had continued to deliver massive infrastructure to drive development both in the urban, suburban, and rural areas of the state.
Mimiko, yet again, commended the tremendous strides made by Wike in infrastructure and human capital development.
He said the projects executed by Wikewere patterned in a way that they can create jobs and reduce poverty in the state.
“I am happy to be invited for the fourth time in the last one year for project commissioning and flag-off in Rivers State. I was here on December 9, 2021, to commission the Rumuola Flyover, and again, on September 5, 2022, to flag-off the Azikiwe-Iloabuchi Road. It is interesting that project commissioning and flag-off activities have not ceased in the state since then.
“There is no question about the fact that there is poverty reduction content to Governor Wike’s road projects. Your commitment to human capital development is also commendable.
“When the commissioner for works was describing the project, he said it is 10.3kilometre-long with about 8metres wide. I asked: could this huge project be completed in six months? But I have no doubt because Wike has maintained the record of completing projects in a short time.It is also evident in the way the people are rejoicing over the project; it is obvious they have no doubt about its completion too,” he added.
“The practical manner in which Governor Wike’s focused leadership has enhanced the value of Rivers people, has earned them respect across the land.
“It is that his integrated infrastructure development one of the greatest catalysts for equitable, bottom-up economic growth. This is inclusive growth; the type of growth that addresses rural poverty in its practicality; not the type that emanates from tortured statistics and dubious metrics.”
Mimiko emphasised that agitation for responsible management of the country’s diversity, which was at the root of what Wike represents in Nigeria’s politics today, was not a North vs South issue.
He said the clamour for equity in politics brings to the fore the place of identity in a multi-ethnic polity like Nigeria.
According to him, to suggest that identity can be discounted in such a context iwas to be untruthful.
“It is actually a patriotic call for unity based on fairness. Yes, it certainly is not an end in itself, but it is a necessary route to national cohesiveness and inclusivity. It is, indeed, the ultimate destination of responsible leadership and a pan-Nigeria responsive followership – inevitable partners, as it were, in the drive towards comprehensive socio-economic development!”
Providing the project description, the Commissioner for Works, Dr.DakorinimaAlaboGeorge-Kelly, said the Indorama-Agbonchia-Ebubu-Ogale-East-West Link Road was a landmark project.
“We are here for the flag-off the construction of a landmark project. This project is 10.3kilometre-long, it will have drains on both sides, making it a total 20.6kilometres length of drains. The size of the drains is 1metre by 1.2metres cross-sectionally, 150millimetres thickness of wall, and 150millimetres base concrete.
“It will have 12 culverts at various sections; we are going to do a very serious soil replacement between 500millimetres and 1.2metres height. The road is going to have an average width of 8metres because we expect a lot of vehicular movements on the road when completed.
“We are going to have 150millimetres thickness of stone base materials, 050 compacted. 60millimetres thickness of binder course, and 40millimetres thickness of wearing course,” the commissioner stated.
IPOB Dismisses 5-Day Sit-At-Home Order In S’East
The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), has disowned the video circulating in the social media which ordered a five-day sit-at-home throughout “Biafra land beginning from December 9 to December 14, 20223 .
This is as the pro-Biafra movement has urged anybody willing to vote in the 2023 elections to collect their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs), without fear, declaring that the movement has not ordered any boycott of the exercise.
A voice at the background of the vital video threatens to kill anybody found outside in “Biafra territory” during the period of the lockdown.
But in a swift response, IPOB distanced itself from the video which it said was the handiwork of sponsored agents of darkness working against the Biafra struggles.
IPOB Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, in a statement, yesterday, said that the authors and promoters of the video were recruited by the enemies of Biafra to create panic in the region and pitch the people against IPOB.
“IPOB under the command and leadership of our great prophet and indefatigable MaziNnamdiKanu wishes to state unequivocally to the people of Biafra, friends of Biafra, and lovers of Biafra freedom that IPOB leadership did not issue any sit-at-home order on 9th,10th, 11th, 12th, 13th or 14th of December 2022”, the statement said.
It urged members of the public to ignore the said order and go about their lawful businesses without fear of molestations.
It read in part:”IPOB never issued any sit-at-home order on these days mentioned above because we are not miscreants, senseless, or jobless people.
“Every Biafran and residents in Biafra Land should ignore such order from untrained and brainless individuals whose agenda is to make Biafra agitation unattractive to our people. Every Biafran must go to their normal business on those days.
“IPOB which is concerned about our people, cannot issue such brainless uncaring 5-day consecutive sit-at-home order to suffer our people during this critical time of the year when people are trying to make-up in their businesses for the year.
“The conception of consecutive 5-day sit at home by a Nigeria agent and his sponsors is to show the level of wickedness and hatred they have against our people. Their agenda is to create insecurity and unnecessary hardships to make our people jettison Biafra freedom.”
IPOB vowed to resist anybody who attempts to enforce the purported sit-at-home order.
“Our people should be prepared and ready to confront any fool who dares to enforce such wicked sit-at-home. Moreso, ESN operatives and IPOB volunteers will be out on these dates to protect our people and the markets.
Biafran youths should also be ready to confront anybody who comes to force them to close their businesses on these days.
“The idiots who are issuing this brazen sit at home order should know that IPOB leadership has never authorized anyone to issue order of such magnitude in Biafraland, therefore, it will not work out for them.
“Our people should go to their businesses without fear. IPOB has put the propagandists and their foot soldiers in Biafra land on check.
“Biafra restoration is moving well and we must exit this cage called Nigeria by the grace of Elohim.”
IPOB further said it had not ordered for the boycott of the 2023 polls, urging anyone willing to vote during the exercise to collect their PVCs and exercise their civil responsibilities.
“Again, everyone has his or her rights to go and collect his or her PVC from their pooling and registration centre without molestations. IPOB never boycott election and has nothing to do with Nigeria shambolic elections.
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