Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has berated the Rivers State Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) for decending into the political arena by issuing politically motivated ultimatums on security in the state.
Simeon Nwakaudu, Special Assistant to the Rivers State Governor, Electronic Media, disclosed in a report that, addressing a special court session of the Formal Opening of the 2019/2020 Legal Year of the Rivers State Judiciary in Port Harcourt on Friday, 8th November, 2019, Governor Wike regretted that the NBA crossed the redline by playing politics with the security situation.
“We wish to warn that by descending into the arena of politics with irresponsible ultimatums, threats and utterances, the NBA in Rivers State has crossed the redline and become part of the enemy of our people.”
Governor Wike regretted that the NBA in Rivers State has demonstrably failed to defend the state’s courts and the rule of law when they are subjected to undeserved assaults and abuse by the powers that be.
He said: “The NBA kept quiet when they closed down our courts in 2013. It lost its voice and remained indifferent when the homes of judges were brazenly attacked in the dead of night by security agents. Again, it looked the other way and maintained a conspiratorial silence when political thus invaded the High Court premises in a failed politically-motivated bid to stop judges from sitting.
“In the midst of these failures and acts of gross irresponsibility, the Chairman of the Port Harcourt branch of the NBA could have the temerity to issue ultimatums to the State Government and threatening to boycott courts on account of an unfortunate kidnap incident that affected a member of the association.
“Security of lives and property is one issue nobody can accuse us of neglecting. In the last four and half years, no State Government has spent as much resources and efforts to support the federally-controlled security agencies to fight crime and criminality in this State”.
Governor Wike stated that in view of the political stance of the NBA in Rivers State, the State Government has withdrawn all pledges and support for the NBA.
He said : “We have withdrawn all our support and patronage for the NBA in Rivers State, including the promise to support the hosting of the 2020 National Conference of the NBA in Port Harcourt.”
The Governor said the State Government is as concerned as the NBA in Rivers State on the plight of her kidnapped member, adding that security agencies are working to resolve the problem.
He stated that his Administration will continue to work towards the improvement of the state judiciary through critical interventions and funding.
Governor Wike, however, expressed dissatisfaction with the performance of the Rivers State Judiciary in terms of dispensing with the cases brought before them. He urged the State Judiciary to reciprocate the investments of the State Government by stepping up performance.
Governor Wike also urged lawyers under the Rivers State Ministry of Justice to work hard to improve in line with the investments of the State Government.
He added that the Rivers State Government will also construct a Magistrates Quarters to encourage the magistrates to work harder to dispense justice.
In her address, Chief Judge of Rivers State, Justice Adama Iyaye-Laminkara commended Governor Wike for the interventions of the State Government in the development of the State Judiciary.
She said that the construction of Judges Quarters by the Rivers State Governor as one of the outstanding achievements in the state. She described Governor Wike as the Diamond Governor of Rivers State.
Attorney General of Rivers State, Prof Zacheus Adangor said that Governor Wike has over the years kept his promises to lawyers and the Ministry of Justice.
Spokesman of the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Chief Onueze Okocha suggested that states should be allowed to appoint judges in line with their needs.
Chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association, Port Harcourt Branch, Mr Sylvester Atama praised the Rivers State Governor for his outstanding investments to improve Justice Delivery in the state.