Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike has slammed the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) for being weak in protecting the judiciary.
Wike said the leadership of the NBA need to go from issuing statements, to taking concrete actions against attacks on the nation’s judiciary.
Governor Wike gave the charge at the book presentation in honour of Justice Mary Peter-Odili as part of activities marking her retirement from the Supreme Court of Nigeria and her 70th Birthday celebration, which held at Dr Obi Wali International Conference Centre in Port Harcourt on Monday.
The governor expressed regrets at the NBA’s lacklustre approach to social change, which is more of a disservice to the nation and exposes it to contempt.
“What is even worrisome on the part of the President of the NBA is his failure to admit that the NBA, including the inner and outer Bar, which he leads, have failed in their responsibility to protect the rule of law and defend the judiciary from punitive intimidation and erosion of its independence by the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government.
“It is quite unfortunate that the NBA is only good at issuing bland statements of condemnation without more, while the judiciary continues to suffer ferocious bouts of harassment from a Federal Government that has become notorious for its contemptuous attitude towards the rule of law and the rights of Nigerians to an effective justice system.”
Justice Odili, who was the first lady of Rivers State between 1999 to 2007, expressed delight that some of her judgments have been published for the public to assess.
“I am very happy that some of my judgements have been captured in print. And as I peeped through the judgments of those big judges and magistrates of the old Bendel State, my judgments are now in the open for everyone to look at. All anyone can say is that she didn’t apply the law properly here, she did not understand the law properly. But, no one can ever say she gave judgement because of an interest in the matter.”
Governors present at the event were: Dr Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia); Rt. Hon. Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri (Adamawa); Mr Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom); Senator Douye Diri (Bayelsa); Samuel Ortom (Benue); Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu) and Seyi Makinde (Oyo).
The five books written in honour of Justice Mary Peter Odili are Judicial Journey of Hon. Justice Mary U. Peter Odili; Essays in Honour of Hon. Justice Mary Ukaego Peter Odili; Icon and On: Leading judgments on women’s rights in Nigeria in honour of Justice Mary Peter Odili; Mary Odili and the Law: Legal essays and Understanding the administration of criminal justice in Nigeria through the eyes of Hon. Justice Mary Ukaego Peter Odili.