I read and listened with utmost dismay in the print, social and electronic media to the nauseating statement published on thursday, 2nd September, 2021, titled “unwarranted court orders: APC unveils the faces of erring judges”, in which Chief Ogbonna Nwuke, writing as “spokesman” of the Amaechi faction of Rivers APC threw decency and decorum to the dogs in an attempt to ridicule and drag the names of some revered judges of the Rivers State Judiciary to the mud. This same streak has been observed in the past against the nation’s judiciary as a whole.
Abraham Lincoln was a lawyer and a statesman who served as the 16th President of the United States and he once said ” its better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubts” The latest attack on Rivers State Judiciary and Judges of the State High Court by Chief Ogbonna Nwuke of the Amaechi faction of Rivers APC brings to fore the above musing by President Abraham Lincoln. The recent attack is a culmination of a series of erratic and unreasoned fight against the Nigerian judiciary, ingrained in a disposition to deprecate judgements against their interest and malign and castigate justices who exercise courage to do justice as the cases before them demand.
We note with concern that the new infamy emanating from Chief Ogbonna Nwuke, ostensibly against judges of the Rivers State High Court is a veiled contempt for the whole judicial institutions in the country. The people Chief Ogbonna Nwuke speaks for have been known to call verdicts of the Supreme Court “mere academic exercise” while vowing to disobey them even on national television.
The highest beneficiaries of the judiciary in Nigeria in the past, they are now on a war path with the same institution, pouring venom and invectives on the priests in our temple of justice when judicial decisions go against them.
They want to live in a society where they will not only choose the judges who will hear their cases or cases in which they have interest, but they also want to decide the orders and judgements that the courts must give in those cases. And failing that, every judge who gives judgements or rulings against their interest must be publicly set up for ridicule, defamed and persecuted.
It is on record that in a number of cases, there have been judgements/rulings of the Rivers State High Court which favoured the Amaechi faction of the APC. Why are the judges who gave such judgements/rulings not publicly named and embarrassed by them?
Also, there has been a consistent practice of surreptitious and questionable transfers of cases in the Port Harcourt division of the Court of Appeal to the headquarters in Abuja. In every such transfer, the Amaechi faction of APC have been the recipients of judicial discretions of the Court of Appeal. There is no one who has nailed or indulged in campaign of calumny against the justices who issue those discretions. Why should every justice who gives judgements/rulings against their interest be defamed?
The most embarrassing is that even judges of the Rivers State High Court whose judgements travelled the whole judicial ladder unscathed are named and ridiculed in their bid to subdue the judiciary to only carry out their whims and caprices.
Judges of the courts have sworn to do justice to all manner of people who come before them, and the courts exist in every civilized society as the hope of the common people. This is the institution that the Amaechi faction of APC seek to intimidate in their inordinate bid to attain political power. Being that Judges with the nature of their calling cannot rise up and defend themselves on the public space on such unfounded and frivolous allegations, characters of the likes of Chief Ogbonna Nwuke has made it a past time to castigate and cast negative aspersions on judges and as Sir Winston Churchill the war time Prime Minister of the United Kingdom said ” lies gets half way across the globe before truth gets it pants on”
Even more worrisome in the said publication is the use of the words “erring judges”. Who indicted the judges and declared them as having erred, has Chief Ogbonna Nwuke and his co-travellers constituted themselves into an appeal panel or the National Judicial Council? they are the accusers, the prosecutors and the judges in this matter. If they feel aggrieved in anyway with the rulings/judgements of our judges, they know what to do and not to be judgemental over our judges.
I therefore strongly condemn the atrocious statement from the Amaechi faction of Rivers APC designed to intimidate and overawe not only judges of the the Rivers State judiciary, but also the whole judicial institution.
I call on all men of goodwill, integrity and good conscience to disassociate and distance themselves from such ignoble call and restate our hope and trust in the judiciary as as the last hope of the common man. I call on Judges of the Rivers State Judiciary especially Hon. Justice Opufaa Ben-Whyte, Hon. Justice Florence Fiberesima, Hon. Justice Chiwendu Worgu and Hon. Justice Okagbule Gbassam and indeed all judicial officers to do their job courageously and fearlessly in the cases that come before them for determination, for that is the oath they swore to uphold by virtue of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended.
Long live the Rivers State Judiciary.
S. Long Williams, Esq.
Immediate Past Chairman,
Eastern Bar Forum.