From TONY JOHN Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has declared that his administration would not be distracted from contributing its quota to guaranteeing a seamless administration of justice both at the state and national levels.
Governor Wike re-enacted the commitment of the State government while performing the formal opening of a legal firm; L. A. Mitee and Company (Inata Chambers), in Port Harcourt yesterday.
The governor stated that the legal profession is part of the problem stalling the process of justice administration in the country because of the activities of some misinformed lawyers.
He said these misinformed lawyers politicise issues of justice administration and sometimes, resort to legal battles without a clear understanding of the position of the law on such matters.
Governor Wike disclosed that an ill-informed lawyer, who does not have a grasp of how budgets function and what the role of government is in creating conducive environment for administration of justice, had dragged the State Government to court over its supports to the judiciary.
He said: “Just this morning, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice came to me that one lawyer in Port Harcourt went to court against the State Government. He said we have no business in building houses for judges, we have no business providing cars for judges.
“He said we have no business in building courts for federal institutions and that I have no right to even contribute to the structures in Nigeria Law School.
“What will be our contribution to the administration of justice, when the structures are dilapidated? That lawyer is saying that what we are doing is not budgeted for. Everybody parades as if they know the law even when they don’t know the law.
“People, who are ignorant about budget will just wake up in the morning and tell you the governor has no right to donate money somewhere. They make all kinds of allegations without having the true facts”.
Governor Wike explained that his administration was compelled to renovate the Court of Appeal and Federal High Courts in Port Harcourt because their dilapidated structures were hampering the seamless administration of justice in the State.
Wike continued: “As lawyers, you saw how the Court of Appeal of Nigeria was. Tell me how any Justice of the Court of Appeal will seat comfortably to preside over cases when it will be raining, and then the rain will fall on them.
“When the government comes up to say this administration of justice that you are giving, to whose interest? Is it to the people of Rivers State and those who do business here?
“And if we are interested in moving things forward and offer support to make such place comfortable, a lawyer will come out and tell people that all those things we are doing are illegal”.
The governor also acknowledged the enormous contributions Mitee, who was the former President of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), has made to the legal profession, and his defense of the interest of Ogoni people for which he was threatened and compelled to go on exile.
Governor Wike, who said Mr. Mitee deserves to be accorded the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria based on his past immense contribution to the legal profession, also commended him for reestablishing his legal chambers not only for legal advocacy, but to mentor junior lawyers.
He expressed: “All of us in this State know the problem that Mr. Ledum Mitee passed through, things that would have taken his life. As far as electoral matters are concerned, I respect my former boss in those days; Mr. E. C. Ukala (SAN) and Mr. L. A. Mitee.
“But, for the problem in Ogoni land, Mitee would have been a Senior Advocate of Nigeria for years now. But, because he believes in his people, because he believes that things must be done right, he has to pay for it. That’s why up until today, he is not a senior advocate.
“Some senior lawyers don’t care about mentorship. But you have the satisfaction that you can’t be a complete lawyer without mentoring others”.
The principle partner of L. A. Mitee and Co. (Inata Chambers), Mr. Mitee, said what they have established in Port Harcourt was a highly competitive legal chambers that would serve as a mentoring hub for junior lawyers and for legal advocacy.
President of Port Harcourt branch of Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Prince Nyekwere, urged Governor Wike not to be weary in his support to the judiciary, which has enhanced the process of administration of justice both in the country.
He also commended Mitee for giving back to society.