Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, said on Friday that the ruling All Progressives Congress had threatened the foundation of democracy by its orchestrated intimidation of the judiciary through false allegations and illegal arrests.
Wike explained that no judge would deliver judgements against the interest of the Federal Government and the ruling party as a result of the harassment of judges by the Federal Government and the ruling party.
The governor, who spoke at the Government House in Port Harcourt during a courtesy visit by the Port Harcourt Branch of the Nigeria Bar Association, warned lawyers against allowing the “deliberate” destruction of the judiciary under any guise.
According to him, the ruling party and its officials have elevated the art of frivolous petition writing against judges as a means of subverting the course of justice.
He said, “Our democracy is in danger. Our democracy has been threatened. What is happening to the judiciary is very deep. NBA must be careful of the deep implications of what it is also doing in the course of the present attack on the judiciary.
“All these actions are geared towards silencing everybody as we head toward 2019. If anybody tells you that they are fighting corruption in the judiciary, tell the person that he is lying.
“They have empowered politicians to write frivolous petitions against judges. Whether or not the petition is true, the judge is compelled to step aside.
“Any judge who delivers a judgement that is against the interest of the ruling party is hounded down by the Department of State Services. They have intimidated judicial officers and put fear in them in a manner that is negatively affecting governance.”
The governor cited the ongoing crisis in Ondo PDP as a point of reference where frivolous petitions had been used to further the interest of the ruling party and destroy the judiciary.
On the December 10, 2016 date scheduled by INEC for Rivers rerun elections, Wike said the fact that it was announced less than 24 hours after the Senate ultimatum was an indication that INEC had been lying to people that insecurity was behind the repeated postponement of the rerun elections.
He, however, said that INEC in its anti-democratic elements would adduce reasons why the election might not be conducted on the same premise of security consideration.
Earlier, the Chairman of the Port Harcourt Branch of the NBA, Mr. Victor Briggs, commended Wike for his commitment to the development of the state.
Briggs also thanked the governor for the construction of the modern law centre for the branch, assuring the government that lawyers would always support its development programmes.
Reacting, the Rivers State Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mr. Chris Finebone, explained that the corruption in the judiciary was worrisome and needed somebody to fight it.
Finebone stated that rather than criticise the stance of the Federal Government against the corruption in the third arm of government, Wike should be optimistic that recent development in the judiciary would help democracy to grow.
“As far as the APC and Nigerians are concerned, the corruption in the judiciary requires somebody to do something to stem it. The governor should be sounding optimistic that the fight against corruption in the judiciary is yielding fruit,” he said.