Nigeria & Constitutional Rights: An independent judiciary is not an option; it is essential for the democratic growth of Nigeria, says Goodluck Diigbo, MOSOP President / Spokesman

By John Ade Budam - MOSOP MEDIA

“Democracy can grow in Nigeria; it can also be broken, but independent-minded judges can stop the frail. An independent judiciary is not an option, it is absolutely essential for democratic growth in Nigeria,” said an Ogoni leader, Goodluck Diigbo reacting to July 14, 2010 High Court ruling in a lawsuit No/BHC/36/2009. In April 2009, Diigbo won an election to succeed late Ogoni leader, Ken Saro-Wiwa as MOSOP President / Spokesman; following his swearing-in on April 26, 2009, Diigbo went to court to stop Ledum Mitee from parading. On April 29, 2009, the High Court ordered Ledum Mitee to stop parading as MOSOP President, but Mitee a lawyer continuously ignored the court order.

Hon. Justice A. I. Iyayi-Lamikrana, a female president in the High Court 2 of Rivers State of Nigeria in the Bori Judicial Division Holden at Bori, Ogoni on July 14, 2010 dismissed an order of stay of further proceedings brought by defendant Ledum Mitee in the lawsuit No.BHC36/2009. Mitee had sought a stay of proceedings pending the determination of his Application to the Court of Appeal against another ruling by the High Court ruling of May 25, 2010 dismissing his earlier motion challenging the court jurisdiction. Mitee was unable to produce any exhibited motion to confirm the existence of any competent appeal against the High Court ruling. Diigbo's counsel prayed the court to throw out the motion, saying “an order for stay of proceedings is a serious, grave and fundamental interruption in the right of Diigbo to prosecute his case without unnecessary delay… a stay of proceedings cannot be granted as a course; it must be based on stringent principles.” In another motion of June 2, 2009, Mitee also lost in his attempt to annul the lawsuit and the order placed on him. The judge advised his counsel against the use of delay tactics to hamstring court proceedings. Case was adjourned for substantive hearing to September 27, 2010 in Bori.

MOSOP Constitution allows for two year tenure and another two years if re-elected. Mitee has been held office for 14 years. Mitee was recently arrested twice (November 12, 2009 and March 2, 2010) and granted bail by Nigeria's Economic Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. MOSOP leadership led Diigbo has asked Mitee to account millions of dollars donated by State and Federal Government; governments and foundations in the United States of America and European Union. MOSOP is the voice of the Ogoni people. MOSOP was first known world-wide when environmentalist and human rights leader, Ken Saro-Wiwa was hanged by a military dictator in 1995. MOSOP was established by the entire Ogoni people to play the role of a cultural, nonpartisan, nonreligious apex organization of the Ogoni people. MOSOP has stood for rights and freedoms, and continues to protect the interest of Ogoni people all over the world.

John Ade Budam
July 17, 2010