Rivers State governor, Mr. Nyesom Wike has reiterated that the invasion of the residence of Justice Mary Odili, was a ploy by the federal government to intimidate the judiciary to a state of fear ahead of the 2023 general elections.
The governor alleged that the federal government wants to continue to ride roughshod unchecked over the rule of law and the sanctity of the country’s electoral system, hence, the renewed attack on judicial officers.
Wike said this yesterday, during 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.
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 maneuverings we should be prepared to experience from the APC-led Federal Government, which having 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.”
He noted that it was the responsibility of the government at all levels to protect the judiciary and accord the Courts with such assistance as they may require to safeguard their independence, advance the rule of law and dispense justice equally and fairly to all citizens.
According to him, “while the federal government has been very weak in resourcing and strengthening the judiciary; it has been 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.
“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 quite in the face of these assaults.”
Wike, who 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 siege to judiciary, said they must quickly move beyond the verbal protestations to unveil those behind the raid on Justice Odili’s residence and ensure that they are all are held to account for their actions, otherwise this impunity would never cease to rear its ugly head in the country.