Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers has said the decision of the National Judicial Council directing judges under investigation to step aside portends great danger to the nation’s democracy.
Wike made the assertion when the executive members of the Nigerian Bar Association Port Harcourt branch paid him a courtesy visit on Friday.
He said that the u-turn by the NJC will encourage politicians to write petitions against any judge whose judgement is likely to go against such politician.
He said, “This move to ask judges to step aside is in favour of politicians because no judge will and deliver judgement against government or a ruling party.
“The implication is that politicians can now write as many petitions alleging that they saw a judge taking brown envelope – which will warrant the judge to be asked to step aside.
“For us, politicians, we are happy with this development because if I notice that I will lose a case, then I will tell my lawyer to write a petition which will result to the judge stepping aside.
“So, in other not to be alleged to have done anything wrong, judges will not give judgement against government or the ruling party.
“This is because, if judge deliver judgement against government or the ruling party, then agencies of government will come after them.”
Wike said the development portend grave danger to the judiciary arm of government and to the common man.
He said the move was a clear manipulation and attempt to silence the opposition, especially as the nation was heading toward 2019 general elections.
The governor said that example to the manipulations was INEC’s quick reaction to announce federal and state legislative rerun elections shortly after the National Assembly ordered it to do so.
He said, “Simply because the Senate said it must conduct election within five weeks; the next day, INEC came up with a time table for the election.
“This is the same INEC that cited insecurity as reason why it could not conduct elections in Rivers, and now within one day after Senate’s position, the same INEC released a time table.
“The question is when did INEC meet security agencies to now take a position that there is no longer security problem in Rivers state, hence the decision to conduct the rerun elections.
“All these boil down to manipulations which not only endanger our democracy but threatens us as a people.”
Wike said that lawyers and judicial workers in the state had a penchant for not paying their taxes which had affected government revenue portfolio.
He said that lawyers ought to lead by example in payment of their taxes to enable government to carry out its developmental functions.
Earlier, the Chairman of NBA branch in Port Harcourt, Mr. Omubo Briggs, commended Wike for the completion of the ultra-modern office complex donated to the body by the state government.
He said the association would continue to support government programmes toward development of the state.
Briggs urged the state government to improve the state of Port Harcourt prisons in spite of it being a Federal Government-owned establishment.