Bench Warrant On PDP Members, A Jungle Justice
We condemn in its entirety, the bench warrant issued by the Magistrate of Magistrate Court eleven of the Rivers State Judiciary, Port Harcourt, on the 12 Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, leaders currently standing trial, on Wednesday, September 8, 2010 and state categorically that it is nothing short of jungle justice.
We also hereby call on the National Judicial Council, NJC, to wade into the matter, as we are of the opinion that the magistrate erred in law by issuing a bench warrant on the leaders of the PDP that have not appeared and have not even taken plea, in her court.
The warrant will be challenged in court and it will not stand as the accused have not been properly arraigned in her court and we suspect that she acted under instructions to try to twist the arms of the law to suit the intention of the State government to imprison them.
The NJC is hereby called upon to investigate the magistrate that issued this offending order and be brought to book.
We are fully aware that the governor of the State is getting set to manipulate the judiciary, forgetting his immediate past.
Like the proverbial elephant that broke the water-pot after drinking from it, forgetting that there would be another dry season, Rt. Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, governor of Rivers State, has decided to manipulate the judiciary through which he climbed into his exalted position.
Regrettably, he is trekking this dangerous lane with the persecution of his benefactors, members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in Rivers State, who campaigned throughout the 23 local government areas to ensure victory for the party in the 2007 elections.
Without the strenuous efforts of the campaign team headed by Hon Lolo Ibieneye, one of the 12 PDP faithfuls the governor is bent on putting into jail, the judiciary which on assumption of office he hailed to the high heavens, would not have placed him where he is now.
In one fell swoop, he is trying hard to manipulate the judiciary that brought him into power and at the same time trying to imprison the very people that secured his party's victory that made possible the Supreme Court judgment. What a pity!
Presently, the governor's attempt to jail his benefactors if not checked would eventually drag the judiciary into the mud, judging by the way he is going about it, searching for compromising magistrates and judges.
We however, on our own part, up hold the integrity of the judiciary and hoped that our confidence would be proved right, thus our early call on the NJC to check the unbridled excesses of Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi using the judiciary in Rivers State.
On Monday, August 9, 2010, Governor Amaechi used the instruments of power to arrest and detain 12 PDP stalwarts of the New Restoration Team, namely, Hon Lolo Ibieneye, Prince Ohochukwu, Sokuru Jaja, Dominic Faatah, Agiobu Fubara and Achinike Wonodi.
Others are Francis Ebenezer, Nwuke Anucha, Chidi Nwankwo Nancy 'F' Ejor Ngowah Ejor, Grant Orugbani and Lali Green 'F'.
They were slammed with a three count charge of unlawful assembly, provocation of breach of peace and setting up of a parallel PDP secretariat.
The accused were all granted bail by Chief Magistrate I.O Agbosor of Chief Magistrate Court 4 of the Rivers State judiciary and despite frustrations set up by the State government to prevent the fulfillment of the bail conditions, they scaled through and were bailed.
Since then, the State government has been making frantic attempts to subvert the independence of the judiciary in their bid to imprison the 12 PDP stalwarts.
The latest being this obnoxious bench warrant.
First, attempts were made to bring up fresh charges of cultism and being in possession of illegal fire arms on them, despite the fact that all the accused were well-known PDP members and their houses were searched by security agents and nothing incriminating was found.
On the failure of this, the government now shops for new magistrates and judges that would carry out their dirty intention, discarding any honourable magistrate or judge that rejects their bid.
It is the exclusive right of the defendants to ask for a summary trial or reject a court suspected to be biased.
However, in this peculiar case, it is the same government that is the prosecution that strangely goes from one court to another, even when the accused have not rejected any.
Those who are determined to maintain the integrity of the judiciary are rejected and the case pulled out.
Government officials have been noticed moving from one magistrate or judge to the other and even as at Tuesday, September 7, 2010, a day before this current obnoxious move to nail the accused on bench warrant, they were said to be with the magistrate that gave the order.
We condemn the bench warrant and insist that the National Judicial Commission investigate the matter and redeem the good image of the judiciary that its greatest benefactor, Gov Amaechi, is hell-bent on manipulating.
Jerry Needam, JP
Parallel PDP, Rivers State