From Ekaete Ikubor
Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, has stated that the judiciary remains the strongest and most dependable foundation of Nigeria’s democracy and must not be allowed to falter in the face of any evolving challenges.
Speaking at the public presentation of a book titled, “Contemporary Essays in Legal Practice”, in Port Harcourt, to mark the retirement of Justice Anwuri Chikere, a Rivers-born retired justice of the Federal High Court.
Wike said the VAT dispute between the State Government and the Federal Government pending before the Supreme Court was a litmus test for the nation’s judiciary to exercise its statutory functions as the protector and guardian of the rule of law by expediting the speedy processes of hearing and delivery of justice in the matter.
The governor who alerted the constitutional implications of the VAT contention on Nigeria’s democracy, decried the tendency of armtwisting of judicial processes in the country through the intimidation of judges by the National Judicial Council (NJC), a supposed flawless judicial arbitre on the dictates and vested concerns of powerful individuals and parties in the outcome of a litigation.
He urged judges not to yield to such intimidations but remain firm in the discharge of their duties, adding that the NJC should protect its integrity by refusing to be used as amenable tool to intimidate judges in matters of judicial complaints and discipline, thus undermining the system of justice delivery in the country.
Wike pointed out that any attempt to subvert the judiciary was a deliberate onslaught on democracy and as such signals the loss of hope of justice for the citizens.
The governor, who had earlier attended a valedictory court session held at the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt, in honourof the celebrant, Justice Anwuri Chikere (rtd), commended her for her courage and independent mindedness during her, years in service.