Democracy under threat, stand firm, Wike urges judges
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The Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, has blamed ineffective judicial performance on the lack of character, courage, and decency of some judges to live up to their judicial oaths in the discharge of their functions.
Wike said due to prevailing political uncertainty in the country, democracy and the rule of law are under constant threat, hence, the judiciary must be alive to its responsibilities.
He made the remarks at the launch of the book, “Legal Paradigm in Nigeria: A New Direction in the Study of Law and Practice,” in honour of retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Hon. Justice Abdul Aboki, on Friday in Abuja.
Wike in a statement by his media aide, Kelvin Ebiri emphasised that the country and its democracy can only survive if the judicial system was strong and alive.
He noted that the judiciary will be deemed dead, when public confidence is lost in its ability to defend the rule of law and dispense free and equal justice to all.
The statement reads” “The judiciary dies where it lies comatose and removed from the aspirations of the citizens for good governance, the rule of law, the protection of fundamental rights and the guarantee of free and fair elections.
“The judiciary dies when it can easily be manipulated; when justice can be procured; when the injustice is rendered in place of justice to the aggrieved parties; or when resort to self-help and other means of redress outside the law becomes the preferred norm by citizens.”
The Governor said despite the myriad of problems faced by the country, Nigerians could still trust the nation’s judiciary to save the country by guaranteeing justice, equity and equality to every citizen.
“Nevertheless, this is possible only when the judiciary is able to assert itself without fear or favour, upholding the truth at all times and standing up to any other power or principality that attempts to undermine or override its constitutional responsibilities, powers and processes.
“Justice could be delayed, which is not acceptable, but it must never be refused or denied for the judiciary to serve as an effective watchdog of our democracy and thwart the evil intentions of the enemies of the people.”
He further asserted that effective and efficient justice delivery is imperative for defending democracy, sustaining the rule of law, protecting fundamental human rights and advancing economic development.
“Let us, therefore, continue to call on the Federal Government to strengthen our judiciary system by resolving the challenges militating against judicial effectiveness as I have done in Rivers State where we have continued to prioritize the independence of the judiciary and improved the working and living conditions of our judges beyond measure,” Wike said.
He also accused political parties and party leaders of exhibiting utter arrogance and disdain for the electoral laws and the democratic process in their actions and conduct.
According to him, Nigerians are becoming more and more apprehensive about the success of the forthcoming general elections, and the survival of the country’s democracy beyond 2023.
“The Federal Government continues to undermine the rule of law, while political parties and party leaders continue to exhibit utter arrogance and disdain for the electoral laws and the democratic process in their actions and conduct.
“With cries of injustices, discrimination and inequities everywhere and with the risen instability and deterioration of law and order, only the undiscerning would believe that Nigeria is not headed for the hard rocks,” he added
The governor commended Hon. Justice Aboki, for his illustrious career, immeasurable service and contributions to the growth of the legal profession, democracy, the rule of law and the progress of the country.
Wike described Hon. Justice Aboki, as a consummate jurist who has left his name indelibly etched in the sands of time and judicial history.
“While judges are of different social, economic and political persuasions, Hon. Justice Aboki prides himself among the progressive rank that stands up for what is right and just and believes that the law and the constitution as interpreted and enforced by the courts must both protect and advance the unity and well-being of the nation and its people,” he said.
Governor Wike thanked those who took the initiative to painstakingly put the book together. According to him, the book will provide an insightful benchmark on the life, career and philosophical undercurrents that underpin Hon. Justice Aboki’s approach and conceptions of law, society, judging and justice among others.
On his part, the governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, commended Justice Aboki for his meritorious service to the nation.
He also lauded governor Wike for his tenacity and ability to speak truth to power.