Tony John, Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has called on Nigerians to prevail on the National Assembly to override President Muhammadu Buhari’s veto on the 2010 Electoral Act Amendment Bill, to guarantee free, fair and credible electoral system in the country.
Wike made the call yesterday, when he addressed the 2018 Annual Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) section on Legal Practice Conference, in Port Harcourt.
He urged Nigerian legal practitioners to rise and insist on the relevance of the amended Electoral Act 2010.
“We must all stand up against the devilish efforts by some anti-democratic forces, to kill the ongoing process to amend the 2010 Electoral Act, on the whimsical excuse that the order of elections proposed in the Amendment Bill contravenes the discretionary powers of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which, in any case, has not complained of any mischief occasioned by the new order.
“Let me remind us that a defining feature of the legal profession is the commitment to promote both the substantive rules and the processes of the law, as well as defend the democratic values of our society,” he said.
Wike, who said the 2010 Electoral Act was enacted to promote credible elections, alleged that the All Progressives Congress (APC), working with the INEC and the police, manipulated the Act to rig the rerun elections in Rivers.
He said in view of the alleged fraudulent activities of INEC, APC and the police, the tribunal and the Court of Appeal upheld results allegedly concocted by the police for the Rivers rerun elections.
He said: “We all saw how result sheets were duplicated with identical serial numbers and handed over to the police to enter fake results and returns, in favour of the candidates of the APC in the said elections.
“What all these mean is that a thousand electoral laws may amount to nothing, for as long as the Federal Government, the INEC, the police and other government agencies which may legally or illegally be brought into the election process, continue to disrespect the law and trample on our democratic rights to free and fair elections with impunity, and without suffering any legal pains or punishment for their criminal conduct.”
Wike urged the legal profession to constantly reinvent and reposition itself in response to existing and new challenges, both in the theory and practice of the law.
The governor also said lawyers must rethink the way they practice, to remain relevant in the profession and meet the needs of their clients and society, in the most professional, diligent and efficient manner.
Declaring the conference open, Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, represented by Justice A. Gumel, said the timing of the conference was right, as it would allow the bench and bar the opportunity to appraise emerging issues on justice delivery.
He urged judges to adhere to the tenets of the law in their delivery of judgments.
NBA President, Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN), described the association’s section on law practice as a vehicle for deepening professional practice in the bar.
Chairman of NBA Section on Legal Practice, Mainnaya Essien (SAN), said recent ethical issues required an appraisal of practice and challenges.
Highpoint of the conference was the presentation of a recognition plaque to Wike by the NBA president, for the outstanding contributions of the governor to the legal profession.