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Lawyers, AC fault Yar’Adua over comment on judges

Posted by By YINKA FABOWALE and ADESINA AIYEKOTI on 2007/11/08 | Views: 688 |

Lawyers, AC fault Yar’Adua over comment on judges

Lawyers in the country on Wednesday kicked against the advice given Monday by President Umaru Yar’Adua to judges not to base their judgement on public sentiments.

Lawyers in the country on Wednesday kicked against the advice given Monday by President Umaru Yar’Adua to judges not to base their judgement on public sentiments.

The lawyers and the Action Congress (AC) see in the president’s comment, a veiled threat and attempt to intimidate the judiciary in the exercise of its constitutional duties.

President Yar’Adua had, at a conference of the judges on Monday, cautioned them to shun the temptation of basing their judgements on popular sentitments.

But reacting to the pronouncement, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Emeka Ngige insisted that President Yar’Adua should have come out with further and better particulars regarding the cases where judges based their judgements on sentiments.

"Is it Ladoja’s case? Is it Dariye’s case? Is it Obi’s case? Even in Amaechi’s case, the judgement was based on equity, law and justice," he declared.
Ngige argued that the statement was misdirected, pointing out that Yar’Adua should have directed the statement to the hierarchy of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Also reacting, Lagos based human rights lawyer, Barrister Ebun Adegboruwa regarded the statement as an indirect way of trying to scare and intimidate judges.

Advising Yar’Adua to maintain his policy of non-interference with the affairs of other arms of government namely, the judiciary and the legislative arms. Adegboruwa said he believed the president was indirectly referring to the removal of former Governor Omehia of Rivers State.
"Personally every judgement must serve the interest of the public," he said.

Also speaking on the issue, a constitutional lawyer, Mr Mike Okoye said the Nigerian judges had never at any time given judgement based on sentiments.

Bamidele Aturu, human rights lawyer, also described President Yar’Adua’s statement as uncalled for, saying the Supreme Court had ruled on so many cases showing that judges in Nigeria don’t give judgement on sentiment.

"I don’t understand why President Yar’Adua is making such statement now. Maybe he was referring to the case of Rivers State."
Another lawyer, Bolu Olawunmi said President Yar’Adua should not dabble into judicial matters. "Is he a lawyer?" he asked adding: "He should allow the eminent judges to give their judgement according to rule of law as they have been doing."

Legal and social commentator, Mike Igele, described President Yar’Adua’s comment as unfortunate, saying he was very disturbed because the statement came just after the Supreme Court’s landmark judgement in the Rivers State governorship tussle.

He noted that accusing the judiciary of being sentimental meant the president has joined the unnecessary debate of whether the Supreme Court was right in its decisions or not. Igele recalled that the inability of the judiciary to live to expectation in the past was because of intimidation by the executive arms of the government.
He advised Yar’Adua to maintain his policy of non-interference in the affairs of other arm of the government.

Lagos lawyer, Fred Agbaje had also criticized Yar’Adua over his comments at the judge’s conference.
Agbaje said the president’s statement was a planned and deliberate attempt to intimidate the Nigerian judiciary and the election petitions tribunals.
He contended that the president’s statement amounted to executive interference in the affairs of the judiciary.

Agbaje advised Yar’Adua to withdraw his statement in the interest of peace and justice.
Also, the Action Congress (AC) warned President Yar’Adua against any attempt to intimidate the judiciary just to satisfy the hawks in his party.

In a statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said Yar’Adua’s warning to the judiciary, at the opening of the All Nigeria Judges’ Conference in Abuja on Monday, amounted to a subtle harassment of the judiciary.
"Accusing the judiciary of playing to the gallery, shortly after a string of judgements that reversed some of the so-called victories of the PDP in the last polls, is nothing but a way to strike back at the judiciary, especially the election petition tribunals," it said.

AC said it was more worried about the president’s pronouncement since it came shortly after a high-level meeting of the PDP decided that the party should "reach out" to the various tribunals as a way of getting favourable judgements on pending cases.
"We don’t want to believe that this subtle intimidation from the bully pulpit is the President’s own way of reaching out.
"The President’s warning to the Judiciary also negated his much-vaunted policy of non-interference in the affairs of the other arms of government. If telling the Judiciary how to do its job is not interference, surely the word has lost its meaning," the party said.

AC said while the Judiciary cannot be said to be perfect, it definitely towers above the other arms of government, especially with its performance in recent times.

The party said the inability of the Judiciary to live up to expectation in the past was due to an unbridled interference by the Executive arm of government, warning: "We hope this is not the beginning of Executive interference in the affairs of the Judiciary."

"We also hope President Yar’Adua has not yet decided to shed his rule of law and due process toga – the only thing he has going for him now – just so he can emulate confused leaders like Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, who believe cowing judges and beating lawyers is the best way to show strong leadership!"

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Comments (6)

Joel Efiong(Calabar, Nigeria)says...

This is a great piece. The examination bodies should hire you as ICT consultant.

Sunday Mbe(Kaduna, Kaduna, Nigeria)says...


Sunday Mbe(Kaduna, Kaduna, Nigeria)says...

The name ULIMASI is from the UTUGWANG tribe in OBUDU local government area of CROSS RIVER STATE in Nigeria.

Okfold(Sobe, Edo, Nigeria)says...

I want the meaning of female owan name Ekeke (Edo state)

Toluwalase Samuel Olufemi(Ijebu, Ogun, Nigeria)says...

Authority belongs to God, once He decrees it is final and binding