Stop using NBA for political ambition, lawyers tell Wike
Lawyers have cautioned Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential aspirant, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, not use the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) for political purposes.
They were responding to the Rivers governor’s description of NBA as a paper tiger that failed to protect the judiciary.
NBA President, Olumide Akpata, while defending the association’s record, said the governor “cannot and should not be allowed to use the NBA as fodder of any sort for his vaulting ambition.”
Akpata cited several instances where the body had risen in defence of the judiciary, including when it fought for the recently retired Supreme Court Justice Mary Peter-Odili; the Chief Judge of Cross River State, Justice Akon Ikpeme and Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court.
Wike’s forgetfulness of these and more, he said, suggested “a dissonance that is most disconcerting and should give one serious cause for concern,” especially as the Rivers governor is a “senior member of the Bar.”
During a book launch in honour of Justice Peter-Odili, on Tuesday, Wike had said among others, that the NBA had become a “paper tiger” that had not only failed in its responsibility to protect the judiciary in Nigeria, but had also been unable to rescue it from political intimidation.
Akpata said: “As President of the NBA, it is not usual for me to respond to criticisms regarding the activities or performance of the NBA, and indeed our philosophy has been to welcome all such criticisms and take useful lessons therefrom.
“But I am unable to allow the Governor of Rivers State to make such baseless allegations against the NBA, particularly as he is a senior member of the legal profession, who will be presumed by many to be speaking from a position of knowledge.”
According to him, it is indeed quite ironic that Wike made the statement at an event in honour of Justice Peter-Odili in support of whom, the NBA stood firm in the face of that brazen attack on her home in Abuja by some persons, who are now standing trial in our law courts.
“That Governor Wike has chosen so quickly, to either forget or ignore this and other actions of the NBA in support of the judiciary is suggestive of a dissonance that is most disconcerting and should give one serious cause for concern.
“It is very convenient for Wike to ask Nigerian lawyers (as he did at the book launch) to emulate their apparently more courageous Pakistani colleagues when the issues at stake do not concern him directly, but when in 2019 the very same Nigerian lawyers had the ‘temerity’ to question his handling of the security situation in Rivers and threatened to boycott the courts if there was no abatement of the rising insecurity in the state, he was only too quick to lambast the lawyers and to withdraw his ‘support’ for the NBA in the state.”