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Home / cover / Rivers: Niger Delta Group Writes CJN Ariwoola, Alleges Plot by Ex-Lawmakers to Intimidate Judiciary

Rivers: Niger Delta Group Writes CJN Ariwoola, Alleges Plot by Ex-Lawmakers to Intimidate Judiciary

Rivers: Niger Delta Group Writes CJN Ariwoola, Alleges Plot by Ex-Lawmakers to Intimidate Judiciary

A Niger Delta group, Concerned Niger Delta Vanguard, has written an open letter to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, alleging a plot by former lawmakers to ridicule the judiciary.

The group claims that the recent transfer of cases involving the defection of 26 state lawmakers in Rivers State from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) has raised grave concerns about the integrity and impartiality of the judicial process.

The letter was signed by Dr Ekandem Umoh, Oghenekaro Francis, Pastor Paul James, Obong Martins Ekarika, Sir Godhead Sylva and Chika Okpobiri.

According to the group, the transfer order has potentially undermined established legal principles and the rulings of previous courts, creating a perception that the judiciary is susceptible to individual influence and petition-driven manipulation.

The letter, therefore, urged the Chief Justice to investigate the circumstances surrounding the transfer order, reaffirm the judiciary’s commitment to upholding the rule of law, and maintain the original court assignment.

The Concerned Niger Delta Vanguard expressed confidence in the CJN’s commitment to justice and fairness.

Read the full letter below:

The Honorable Chief Justice of Nigeria,

We are compelled to address you through this open letter with utmost concern and urgency regarding the recent transfer of cases about the defection of 26 state lawmakers in Rivers State from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC). This development has precipitated profound implications for the democratic process. As the Chief Justice of Nigeria, your esteemed position entrusts you with the vital responsibility of ensuring the inviolability and impartiality of the judicial process. This duty assumes paramount importance in matters of such elevated significance to the functioning of our democracy.

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The defection of lawmakers, spearheaded by the former speaker of Rivers State, Martin Amaewhule, from the ruling PDP to the APC, and their persistent assertion of legitimacy as lawmakers, has engendered profound legal and constitutional questions warrant scrutiny. It is indeed reassuring to note that the Rivers State High Court, sitting in Port Harcourt, has taken a decisive step by granting an interim injunction restraining the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Martin Amaewhule, and the 25 other lawmakers from parading themselves as legislators, thereby upholding the sanctity of the legal process.

Considering these developments, We implore you to exercise your judicial discretion to ensure that the transferred cases are adjudicated with the requisite diligence and impartiality, thereby reinforcing the public’s trust in the judiciary and safeguarding the very fabric of our democracy.

The recent transfer of these cases from Federal High Court 4, Port Harcourt, presided over by Justice Steven Dalyop Pam, to Court Two, headed by Justice E. O. Obele, pursuant to a petition filed by Hon. Martins Amaewhule, a defendant in the matter, has raised grave concerns regarding the integrity and impartiality of the judicial process. The transfer order, issued in response to a petition by a party facing allegations, potentially undermines established legal principles and the rulings of previous courts, thereby creating a perception that the judiciary is susceptible to individual influence and petition-driven manipulation. This development raises serious questions about the potential for undue influence and partiality in our judicial system, potentially eroding public trust in the judiciary’s ability to function as a fair and impartial arbiter.

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The ongoing reforms within your esteemed office, aimed at strengthening the judiciary’s image and ensuring its role as a fair and impartial arbiter, are seemingly contradicted by this recent transfer. It is essential to prevent the judiciary from becoming a haven for political opportunism, where lawmakers exploit legal loopholes to maintain power after switching allegiances. The constitution clearly intends to prevent such behaviour, and a Supreme Court ruling has reiterated the legal implications of defection, emphasizing that a legislator cannot defect and remain a member of a legislative house in Nigeria unless there is a division in the party at the national level, and which the case of Amaewhule seems far from such condition.

The constitutional ban on political defection by legislators seeks to prevent political opportunism and safeguard the integrity of our legislative institutions. As the custodian of the rule of law, the judiciary must not allow itself to be compromised or manipulated for political gains. The recent events necessitate a resolute commitment to upholding the principles of justice and the rule of law, ensuring that the judiciary remains a bulwark against political prostitution and a champion of the integrity of our democratic institutions.

Therefore, we urge you to take the following actions:

Investigate the circumstances surrounding the transfer order. Ensure this decision was based solely on legitimate legal grounds and not influenced by external pressures.

Reaffirm the judiciary’s commitment to upholding the rule of law. The established legal precedents and the rulings of previous courts must be respected.

Maintain the original court assignment. Justice Pam, having already begun the hearing process, is well-positioned to see it through to a fair and just conclusion.

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We fervently implore you, as the guardian of justice and the embodiment of the judiciary’s highest ideals, to ensure that the judicial system is not compromised by political machinations or partisan agendas. The sacrosanct principles of the rule of law must be upheld with unwavering dedication, and the judiciary must never be perceived as a sanctuary for corruption, political influence, or ideological bias. The recent developments surrounding the transfer of these cases underscore the imperative need for vigilance, steadfastness, and an unyielding commitment to the timeless principles of justice and fairness.

It is essential that the judiciary, under your visionary leadership, resists any attempts to subvert the rule of law and uphold the integrity of the judicial process, even in the face of intense political pressure or ideological opposition. Your office plays a pivotal role in safeguarding the ongoing reforms in the judicial system, ensuring that justice is served with impartiality, and upholding the trust reposed in the judiciary by the citizenry.

We have confidence in your unwavering commitment to the principles of justice, fairness, and the rule of law, even in the face of formidable challenges. Your resolute leadership and unshakeable dedication to the highest ideals of the judiciary will undoubtedly leave an indelible mark on the integrity of the judicial system and the democratic process in our nation, and We remain optimistic that the judiciary, under your stewardship, will continue to be a shining beacon of integrity, justice, and hope for our nation.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.

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