The Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, has said the nation’s judiciary is becoming more confusing and contradictory in its decisions.
Wike also said the ongoing dispute between Rivers State and the Federal Government over the legitimate authority to impose and collect Value Added Taxes had enormous constitutional implications that should be addressed directly.
The governor, who spoke at a book presentation titled, ‘Contemporary Essays on Law & Practice,’ in honour of retired Justice Anwuri Chikere of the Federal High Court on Friday, further said the Supreme Court was responsible for the controversy that had continued to trail the collection of VAT by state governments.
Wike stressed that the judiciary was the exclusive authority through which all persons, authorities and agencies were subjected to the precepts and dictates of the Constitution and ordinary laws of the nation.
He said no nation could be seen to be free, fair and just without a strong, independent and functional judiciary, adding that no democracy can survive, flourish and deliver social and economic progress without a courageous, efficient and effective judiciary.
He, therefore, enjoined judicial officers to relive the time when the nation’s judiciary was truly independent, manned by men and women of courage who were publicly trusted to deliver justice fairly and equally to everyone.
Wike added, “There was also a time when our judges were respected the world over for their independence, courage and credibility. Again, time was that decisions from Nigerian courts were widely accepted and celebrated across the world as timeless models of judicial precedents.
“But today, what is your candid assessment of the character and integrity of our country’s judiciary, which is becoming more confusing and painfully contradictory?”
Speaking further, the Rivers governor noted the entire country was waiting for the speedy resolution of the VAT dispute at the Supreme Court.
According to him, judicial independence is truncated when judges are subjected to summary trials and preconceived indictments by an all-powerful quasi-judicial agency on the promptings of persons or parties with a vested interest in the outcome of the litigation processes.
He said, “While the entire country is waiting for its speedy resolution in national interest, the Supreme Court of Nigeria remains lethargic in hearing this very important matter, thereby unjustifiably aiding the Federal Government to continue to enforce its illegal and oppressive VAT policy on the polity.”