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…David-West, Waku, Mimiko, others hail judiciary

Posted by By YINKA FABOWALE, CHIDI OBINECHE and ADESINA AIYEKOTI on 2007/02/21 | Views: 748 |

…David-West, Waku, Mimiko, others hail judiciary

Nigerians from diverse walks of life on Tuesday gave kudos to the judiciary over the Court of Appeal judgment which affirmed Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as the vice president of Nigeria.

Nigerians from diverse walks of life on Tuesday gave kudos to the judiciary over the Court of Appeal judgment which affirmed Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as the vice president of Nigeria.
The plaudits came Prof.Tam David-West, former Minister of Petroleum, Senator Joseph Waku; former governor of Cross River State, Mr Clement Ebri; Action Congress governorship candidate in Imo State, Mr Uche Onyeagocha; former Minister of Housing and Environment, Dr Segun Mimiko, who is the Labour Party’s standard bearer for Ondo State governorship; former Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) President, Prince Lanke Odogiyan (SAN) and the AC.

The Action Congress (AC) in its reaction, hailed the judiciary for remaining the strongest bastion of the country’s democracy and upholding the sanctity of the Nigerian constitution.
"For the umpteenth time, the judiciary has, through a fearless and well-thought-out judgment, rekindled the hope of all Nigerians in this young democracy and voted for the rule of law rather than anarchy," AC said.
The party said that the judiciary had stood firm in checkmating the excesses of the executive arm under the present political dispensation, thus ensuring the success of Nigeria’s democracy as well as the country’s stability.

The party said the court’s ruling had vindicated Atiku’s stand and that of his party (the AC) as well as all right-thinking Nigerians that the VP breached no section of the country’s constitution in defecting from the PDP to the AC.

The AC called on the parties to the dispute, especially the presidency, to respect the court’s decision by shunning any action that could render the judgment ineffective. It specifically called on the government to immediately reverse its unlawful withdrawal of the VP’s rights and privileges, saying that anything to the contrary would only portray Nigeria as a Banana Republic. Prof. David-West, said that President Obasanjo, believed to be prosecuting a personal war with Atiku, "is not bigger than Nigeria and its constitution."

His words: "Anyone who loves the president should advise him to obey the constitution to which he swore. He should know the difference between Obasanjo, the private farmer and Obasanjo, the president of Nigeria. He should stop behaving as if Nigeria is his private property and he the lord of the manor. His statement that if the appeal court rules in his (Obasanjo’s) favour he’d arrest Atiku is very unpresidential language. He has no such power."

David-West hailed the appeal court justices for their courage and competence in doing their job at a time, he noted, others had become cowards and mere hirelings of bullies in government. The former minister, who was a member of the Constituent Assembly that drew up the 1979 constitution said he was sure there was no way the Federal Government would win the case against Atiku.

Also reacting to the judgment, Senator Waku said: "I have been vindicated over my statement published in The Sun of Monday, where I said that Atiku Abubakar was not a vice president of President Olusegun Obasanjo but that of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The president has no power to declare his office vacant. As such, the judiciary has given a landmark interpretation of our constitution, and the judgement should be hailed by all democrats.

"By this judgment, Atiku has become a democracy hero in Africa because of the way he has taken all his battles before the law courts. Even if he does not win the election, he has made a name for himself as a dogged democrat. Those fighting him have instead of pulling him down succeeded in making him a reference point in democratic struggle in Nigeria."

Barrister Emeka Ngige (SAN) described the court verdict as sound. "It is a sound decision and a kind of signal that the judiciary is prepared to save the country from dictatorial and autocracy.
"I am very optimistic that the appeal by the presidency to the Supreme Court would also fail," Ngige submitted.

Also commenting, Chief Robert Clarke (SAN) said the appellate court’s decision had vindicated the position of the constitution on the issue of defection.
Former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Prince Odogiyan, described the judgement as a "good verdict in the interest of Nigeria’s nascent democracy."
He said the decision of the Federal Government to take the matter to court, after it had earlier resolved to self help, was a belated move.

Ebri described the judgment as a "masterpiece."
"I believe Nigeria’s hour has come. It is reassuring that in spite of our institutional deficiencies and our ignoble history, the judiciary is standing up as a beacon of hope in a vast oasis of despair."
He advised President Obasanjo to resign and hand over to Atiku, because of his "arbitrariness, excessive manipulations and scant regard for the rule of law and the sanctity of the constitution."

Onyeagocha, who is a member of the House of Representatives, said the appeal court’s ruling had "in one breath restored the dignity of the judiciary and its prime position as the last hope of the common man."

He said the judges demonstrated uncommon courage, resilience and intellectual depth in the ruling.
"My view is that democracy is being strengthened with the judgment. No nation can progress with a prostrate judiciary. It shows that there are still institutions and structures that have not been overrun by the moving train of dictatorship."

Mimiko, who was the immediate past Minister of Housing and Environment, simply described the ruling as "historic and reassuring."

He said that at every stage of the nation’s developmental process the judiciary had acquitted itself as the "vanguard of the oppressed."

An Abuja-based legal practitioner and governorship candidate of Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) in Anambra State, Mr. Oji Nwafor-Orizu, called on the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Chief Bayo Ojo, to resign immediately.

He declared: "Bayo Ojo has nothing doing in the office. He should not waste tax payers’ money. He should resign instead of being redundant if he has no job to do."

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