The governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, has accused the federal government of being responsible for then weak state of the justice system in the country by clamping down on judges “to lay the grounds for the wholesale politicisation of the justice sector in the country.”
Wike who was speaking during the special court session to mark the opening ceremony of the 2017/2018 legal year said, the fedal government is guilty of impunity and threats to rule of law and impartial delivery of justice
The governor said the “systematic intimidation of the judiciary by the federal government” had nothing to do with “its dubious and much discredited fight against corruption in the judiciary”.
“The danger in the incremental politicisation of the judiciary has started manifesting in the poor quality of justice from the election tribunals where judges are appointed and directed to execute pre-determined results, and also in the quality of the Court of Appeal, where seniority, proven competence and integrity are blatantly passed over for partisan affiliations in the appointment or elevation of judges to that court.
“When all is said and done, let us not forget that Nigeria is still a nation of laws and not of strong men. While the federal government is guilty of impunity, the greatest threats to the rule of law and the independence of our judiciary are the judges who lack the courage to defend our collective rights to an impartial judicial system or compromise their oaths in order to remain in office.”
The governor noted that the present federal government operates in denial of the fact that the judiciary is a separate arm of government, which must be unreservedly respected, protected and preserved for the sustainable development of the country.
“We continue to witness an insidious erosion of the Rule of Law and the independence of the judiciary through a combination of vile threats, unwarranted interferences and opportunistic pressures on judges in a manner and scale never seen before in the political history of this country.
“Indeed, judges appear to have been intimidated to the point where some now find it very uncomfortable even to attend official State functions with governors for fear of being blacklisted thereafter and eventually punished,” he stated.