Nyesom Wike, Governor of Rivers state has publicly criticised the leadership of Nigerian Bar Association over its failure to defend the rule of law.
According to Wike, the NBA to go beyond issuing statements to taking concrete actions against attacks on the nation’s judiciary.
The charge was given by Wike at the book presentation in honour of Justice Mary Odili as part of activities marking her retirement from the Supreme Court and her 70th birthday, which was held in Port Harcourt on Monday.
The governor regretted the NBA’s lacklustre approach to social change, which, according to him, is more of a disservice to the nation and exposes it to contempt.
Wike said, “What is even worrisome on the part of the NBA President is his failure to admit that the NBA, including the inner and outer bar which he leads, has failed in its responsibility to protect the rule of law and defend the judiciary from punitive intimidation and erosion of its independence by the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government.
“It is quite unfortunate that the NBA is only good at issuing statements of condemnation without more, while the judiciary continues to suffer ferocious bouts of harassment from a Federal Government that has become notorious for its contemptuous attitude towards the rule of law and the rights of Nigerians to an effective justice system.”
He also expressed his disagreement with some speakers at last Thursday’s valedictory court session organised in honour of Justice Odili who laid the blame on politicians over the problems that the judiciary suffers.
Wike said Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), who spoke for the body of senior advocates at the valedictory court session, identified corruption as the bane of the Nigerian judiciary and pointed the finger of responsibility at politicians, lawyers and the Federal Government.
He noted that while the senior lawyer was largely correct with respect to the issues of forum shopping by lawyers and the intimidation of the courts by the Federal Government, he was however, wrong in his allusion to political cases as responsible for the debasement of Nigerian courts.
“Now, if I may ask: are lawyers not behind the contemptuous criticisms of judges by clients? How many lawyers have withdrawn from political cases in protest against unwarranted castigation of the court by clients?”