Rivers Governor Nyesom Wike has accused the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) of intimidating the judiciary ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Citing the recent invasion of the residence of Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Mary Odili, the Governor said the Federal Government was riding a roughshod on the rule of law and the sanctity of the country’s electoral system.
He spoke at a special court session to mark the opening of the 2021/2022 Legal Year of the Rivers State judiciary held at the Chief Judge’s ceremonial court, Port Harcourt on Thursday.
He said: “Although it is still early morning in our democratic match towards 2023, the attack on Justice Mary Odili is a prelude to many more and even worse political manoeuvrings we should be prepared to experience from the APC-led Federal Government, which has lost relevance and popular support is becoming more and more desperate over its dwindling political fortunes by the day.
“While cases with political undertones, including the constitutional validity of certain sections of the recent amendments to the 2010 Electoral Act, if assented to by Mr. President, would necessarily come before our courts; what is important is the duty and capacity of our judiciary to save our democracy and the country.”
Wike said it was the responsibility of the government at all levels to protect the judiciary and assist the courts to enable them to safeguard their independence, advance the rule of law and dispense justice equally and fairly to all citizens.
He said the present Federal Government had been very weak in resourcing and strengthening the judiciary, buy very strong and readily predisposed to ridiculing the entire institution and subjecting individual judges to both physical and psychological trauma for its own self-interest.
He said: “We all witnessed the infamous midnight raids on judicial residences and the subjection of some judges, to illegal raids, arrests and detentions by agents of the Federal Government purportedly carrying out a baseless sting operation back in 2016.
“Since then the intimidation of judges whose judgments, intellectual or moral disposition they are not comfortable with has continued unrelenting with the latest attack on a peaceful mother, wife of a former Governor and Justice of the Supreme Court, our own highly revered Hon. Justice Mary Odili.
“It is important to emphasise that we allow these intimidations to become acceptable standards of behaviour and even become complicit in their unholy design to undermine the administration of justice when we all opt to keep quiet in the face of these assaults.”
Wike commended the leaders of the Nigerian Bar Association, the Body of Senior Advocates, the Chief Justice of Nigeria and members of the public for promptly condemning the idiotic siege on the judiciary.
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