28 May 2015

Court refuses to stop Bayelsa Chief Judge from swearing in Rivers State Governor-elect, Nyesom Wike

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday refused an application to stop the Chief Judge of Bayelsa State, Justice Kate Abiru, from swearing in the Rivers State Governor-elect, Chief Nyesom Wike, on May 29, 2015.

Justice Ibrahim Buba, while turning down the application, said granting such would amount to “adding insult upon the injury” of the people of Rivers State, who currently “have no judiciary”.

The judge held that though the applicants had a meritorious cause of action because the issues bordered on the sanctity of the constitution, granting their ex parte application may occasion a state of anarchy in Rivers State.
“I am of the firm view that no court should make the order ex parte to further compound the problems in Rivers State,” Buba held.
The applicants are three Lagos-based legal practitioners – Monday Ubani, John Nwokwu and Gabriel Okoro.

Joined as respondents in the suit are; the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Mohammed Adoke, Bayelsa CJ, Justice Abiru and Wike.

The plaintiffs are contending that Justice Abiru cannot swear Wike in because the constitution only allowed the Chief Judge of the state or the President of the Customary Court of Appeal of Rivers State to do so.

The Attorney General of the Federation, Adoke, had, in a press statement on May 19, requested that Abiru should handle the swearing in of the Governor-elect on May 29, because Rivers State currently has no substantive Chief Judge.
“No Room For Anarchy”
Adoke had reportedly said it was to avert a likely constitutional crisis in Rivers State.

He said the directive was in line with the constitution and urged the citizens to take note and respect it.

But Nwokwu, who deposed to a 25-paragraph affidavit in support of the ex parte application, claimed that Adoke’s directive “is already causing public confusion and uncertainty in the country.”

The applicants therefore sought an order “restraining the 2nd defendant from administering the oath of office on the 3rd respondent on the basis of the directive of the 1st respondent and to stay all actions pending the determination of the substantive suit.”

In the alternative, they wanted the court to make an order “restraining the defendants whether by themselves, agents, servants and privies from taking any further steps in connection with the matter pending determination.”

They had claimed that it would be in the interest of justice to grant the ex parte application.

Buba, however, refused to grant their request, saying “we cannot all be shallow or be shallow-minded. There shall be no room for anarchy”.

He adjourned till June 29 to hear the motion on notice.

Credit: Channels

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