By Okafor Ofiebor
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, has declared war on Rivers State Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) for issuing what he regarded as politically motivated ultimatums on security in the state.
Addressing a special court session of the Formal Opening of the 2019/2020 Legal Year of the Rivers State Judiciary in Port Harcourt on Friday, Governor Wike said NBA crossed the redline.
“We wish to warn that by descending into the arena of politics with irresponsible ultimatums, threats and utterances, the NBA in Rivers State has crossed the redline and become part of the enemy of our people.” The governor retorted.
Wike said the NBA in Rivers State had failed to defend the state’s courts and the rule of law when they were subjected to undeserved assaults and abuse in the past.
“The NBA kept quiet when they closed down our courts in 2013. It lost its voice and remained indifferent when the homes of judges were brazenly attacked in the dead of night by security agents. Again, it looked the other way and maintained a conspiratorial silence when political thugs invaded the High Court premises in a failed politically-motivated bid to stop judges from sitting.
“In the midst of these failures and acts of gross irresponsibility, the Chairman of the Port Harcourt branch of the NBA could have the temerity to issue ultimatums to the State Government and threatening to boycott courts on account of an unfortunate kidnap incident that affected a member of the association.
“Security of lives and property is one issue nobody can accused us of neglecting. In the last four and half years, no State Government has spent as much resources and efforts to support the federally-controlled security agencies to fight crime and criminality in this State”, he said.
The Governor, therefore, stated that in view of the political stance of the NBA in Rivers State, the State Government had withdrawn all pledges and support for the law body.
“We have withdrawn all our support and patronage for the NBA in Rivers State, including the promise to support the hosting of the 2020 National Conference of the NBA in Port Harcourt.”
The Governor said the State Government was as concerned as the NBA in Rivers State on the plight of her kidnapped member, adding that security agencies are working to resolve the problem.
He stated that his Administration would continue to work towards the improvement of the state judiciary through critical interventions and funding.
Wike also expressed dissatisfaction with the performance of the Rivers State Judiciary in terms of dispensing with the cases brought before them and urged the state judiciary to reciprocate the investments of the government by stepping up performance.