by Mitchelle Uzorka
Rivers State governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike says there is no need the nation’s democracy should fail, but if such happens, then the judiciary, the security agencies and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should be held responsible.
This is because, governor Wike explained, there are already enabling relevant laws made by the legislature that should safeguard the practice of democracy especially as it concerns the conduct of the 2023 general election.
Speaking while swearing in five Rivers State High Court judges and two Customary Court of Appeal judges, governor Wike said it is incumbent on those agencies to do their duties by not succumbing to pressure from politicians in defence of the law.
“I urge you to be to be firm particularly, this critical period when we are entering transition period. I believe that the legislature have done their own part by making the relevant laws in order to lead us. No law is permanent, no law is so perfect.
“As time goes on there will be amendment based on existing realities. But now, it is the duty of the judiciary, security agencies, and INEC to save this country. If this country collapses in this transition period, they should hold the judiciary, security agencies and INEC responsible.”
Governor Wike stated that INEC has all it takes to conduct a free, fair and credible election with the security agencies having such capacity to ensure that the process is hitch free.
The governor stressed that even if any litigation arise therefrom, the judiciary should courageously adjudicate on such suits without fear, intimidation or favour.
He pointed to the dampening effect of incidences wherein judges give conflicting interpretations, security agencies putting up flimsy excuses concerning the enforcement of the law.
“If INEC wants to conduct a free and fair election, that they can do. If the security agencies want, there will be peace. And if judiciary want the law to be interpreted the way it is, that they can do. When that is done people will be happy, people will have confidence that we are getting it right.
“But when you begin to see a lot of interpretations you begin to wonder where we are heading to. Interpretations not from lawyers, but from the court on the same subject matter.”
Governor Wike recalled that after the 2015 general election, original INEC results sheets were tendered at the tribunal hearing that had authenticated correct serial numbers.
According to him, the implication of this is that INEC is a culprit and such incidence threaten democracy in Nigeria.
Speaking directly to the newly sworn-in judges, governor Wike said a lot of responsibilities lie on their shoulders, particularly now that Nigeria is in transition from one administration to another.
Governor Wike stated that it is meaningless for them to know the law and lack the courage to firmly declare its intent and spirit glaringly over cases before them.
That is the only way, governor Wike asserted, their elevation to the bench will benefit the citizenry and the country.
Governor Wike also said it will be so surprising to find judges in Rivers State being of lily heart, lacking in courage and unable to do what is right according to law.
This is because, governor Wike explained that his administration has provided the best working climate, allowed them independence and better welfare, which should embolden them to do their jobs well.
Those sworn-in as judges of the State High Court at the Executive Council Chambers of Government House on Monday include, Justice Asivosuo Maccarthy Oriye, Justice Comfort Ifiekmotu-Awaji Adangor, Justice Beauty Ihuoma Emmanuel-Okere, Justice Omonigho Nwibani and Justice Prince Chika Mini
Those of the Rivers State Customary Court of Appeal are Justice Odiki Daniel-Kalio and Justice Tetenwi Ngeli Eleraobari.
Present at the event were the Chief Judge of Rivers State, Hon. Justice Simeon Amadi; the wife of the governor of Rivers State, Hon. Justice Eberechi Suzzette Nyesom-Wike; Rivers State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof. Zacchaeus Adangor, SAN; former Presidents of the Nigerian Bar Association, Onueze C.J Okocha, SAN and Okey Wali, SAN among others.