Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike said on Monday that Nigeria had never been badly governed as it is now.
He alleged that the federal government is currently marking opposition members as a security risk and seizing their passports.
Wike spoke at the opening of the 61st Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association in Port Harcourt.
He said: “Never in our political history has Nigeria been so badly governed and denied of good governance, with the federal government woefully failing in its basic duties to ensure the well-being and security of its own citizens, as we have known him for the past six years. .
“On a daily basis, economic, social and political rights, including the rights to personal security, freedom of expression, association, dissent and peaceful protest, as well as the right to personal liberty are violated by any impunity by the current central administration. and its security apparatus.
“The interference with personal liberty has been brazen and indiscriminate, so that even superior court judges, including Supreme Court justices, have recently been the victims of nightly assaults on their premises and of arrests and ‘illegal imprisonments.
“Lately, the underhand new trend is to label security risks for innocent Nigerians and opposition elements and use the immigration authority to seize their international passports without a prior court order. ”
The governor has asked the Supreme Court to give the value-added tax case currently before it an expedited hearing.
He also criticized Decree 10 of the federal government, saying that judicial interpretation was needed.
He said there was a need to seek a judicial interpretation of Executive Decree 10 as, in and of itself, it is an oppressive erosion of the powers and autonomy of subnational governments to administer their own judicial budgets in accordance with the clues. economics in force.
The Governor said: “It is for similar reasons of strengthening fiscal federalism that we are before the courts to determine the appropriate authority, under our Constitution, to impose and collect value added tax in our country. .
“These are very sensitive issues at the national level and Nigerians are eagerly awaiting the final outcome of the judicial process.
“We therefore wonder why the Supreme Court does not give an expedited hearing on these matters and respectfully request that this be done in the national interest.”
Speaking further, Wike said it was time for all to work collectively to build a strong, resourced legal system that is independent and efficient in the administration of justice.
So he instructed Nigerian lawyers to engage in judicial activism as a measure to address the slowness of justice and attempts to stifle citizens’ rights.
Wike said no excellence can be achieved in the country’s judicial system when judges lack the courage to apply the law with equal measure, as they are constantly subjected to some form of intimidation or pressure. policy to appeal to particular interests.
He wondered why the NBA continued to focus less on promoting and fighting for the values of good governance, democracy, judicial independence, human rights and the rule of law while there is an urgent need for the association to do so.
In his speech, before declaring the conference open, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Judge Tanko Muhammad, tasked the NBA and its members who serve in various offices in the arms of the government to lead the crusade to remedy the poor conditions of national officer judges service.
Muhammad, who was represented by a Supreme Court judge, Justice Mary Odili, observed that the administration of justice is hampered by the attacks that litigants, in particular politicians and some lawyers, launch against the judiciary when their expectations are not being met.
He urged the NBA to also take action to discipline its members who not only ridicule the judiciary but also abuse its processes.
Judge Muhammad noted that while Nigeria continues to face the challenges of kidnappings, banditry, terrorism, agitations for secession and control of resources, the country’s peace now rests on the balance of the scales of the world. justice.
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