Prof Koyinsola Ajayi, SAN
Chairman, Technical Committee on Conference Planning (TCCP)
Nigerian Bar Association, NBA
REQUEST TO WITHDRAW THE OFFER OF PLATFORM AT THE 2020
ANNUAL GENERAL CONFERENCE OF THE NIGERIAN BAR
ASSOCIATION TO GOVERNOR NYESOM WIKE
We are a group of lawyers, licensed to practice law in Nigeria and paid our 2020 practicing fees, under the auspices of the Justice Concerned Lawyers‟ Forum.
Our membership cut across the six geo-political zones, the 36 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. We have monitored the activities of the Nigerian Bar Association in recent times and most especially the surprising decision of the National Executive Committee (NEC) taken on 20th August, 2020 to withdraw the invitation of Mallam
Nasiru El-Rufai as a Speaker at her forthcoming Annual General Conference
on the ground of not wanting to get embroiled in the controversy that
trailed the El-Rufai’s invitation. The so called „controversy‟ was based on
a petition dated only on 18th August, 2020, jointly signed by one Silas Joseph Onu and Chidi Anselm Odinkalu, Ph.D. (a copy of which is in our possession) alleging human rights abuse and disrespect for rule of law and democratic values.
As a group of Lawyers concerned with justice for all without discrimination, we do not set out to speak for Mallam El-Rufai or find the veracity of the petition against him.
However, we understand you extended similar invitation to Governor Nyesom Wike who has worse cases of abuse of human
rights and disrespect for rule of law and democratic values to speak at the Conference.
We believe this would send a wrong signal and portray us as a
body of professionals comfortable with selective promotion of rule of law.
This will be contrary to one of the core aims and objectives of NBA which is the „promotion and protection of rule of law and respect for the enforcement
of human rights‟.
On the basis of the above therefore, we strongly demand that given the decision of the NEC to withdraw the invitation of Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, any other person(s) or personality invited to speak at the Conference but who
has record of human rights abuse and disrespect for rule of law should not
also be given the platform to speak to lawyers at the AGC.
In specific terms,
we demand the immediate removal/withdrawal of Nyesom Wike, the Governor of Rivers State as a speaker at the AGC. Our petition against him is based on the following allegations of human rights abuse, disrespect for
rule of law and
1. On 10th May 2020 Governor Nyesom Wike personally supervised the
pulling down of both Edemete Hotel and Prodest Home in Port Harcourt on mere allegation that the operators had flouted an order that hotels
should be closed. It is on record that the operators of the hotel were not arrested, tried or convicted by any competent court of law. Yet Governor
Nyesom Wike engaged in executive recklessness and an abuse of office by supervising the demolition of the two hotels.
2. On 31st March 2020, Governor Nyesom Wike orchestrated the unlawful arrest, humiliation and detention in Port Harcourt of two Caverton Helicopters‟ Pilots despite their having the authorization, approvals and
exemption granted by the Federal Ministry of Aviation and the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority to fly to Port Harcourt on essential services.
This action of Governor Nyesom Wike which is capable of leading to a situation of anarchy in the country, was widely condemned by all and sundry,
including the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, as sheer display of „crass ignorance‟, reckless and abuse of power.
3. On 8th May 2020 the Rivers State Government of Governor Nyesom Wike directed its Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice to auction all
vehicles that were impounded for violating the State’s lockdown directive
without any form of trial or conviction.
This violated the provisions of the
1999 Constitution on the fundamental rights of the victims.
4. On 24th May 2019, Governor Nyesom Wike, declared Rivers State as a Christian State, a position that is clearly an affront to section 10 of the
Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as altered).
5. Even when his attention was called to the fact that such declaration violates the 1999 Constitution, to which he had sworn to uphold as a Governor of the State, Nyesom Wike insisted that his declaration still stands.
6. On 9th January 2020, Amnesty International released a detailed report of
loss of lives and properties in various Communities of Rivers State, especially; Khana and Gokana Local Government Areas.
revealed that at least 60 people were killed within ten months in these 2 LGAs. The report also showed that at least five people were killed in two days in Rumuodogo, Emohua LGA. It contained graphic account of how Bodo Community is targeted and activists killed in Rivers State. Further,
it stated that there was no investigation or justice for the victims.
Amnesty International maintained that its “findings show that
government is still not doing enough to protect people in these communities from attacks. The killers are literally getting away with
murder, while no one is being arrested or punished for these crimes.‟ The rampage and the rise in killings were attributed to the „failure to bring those responsible for these horrific crimes to justice thereby allowing a climate of impunity to fuel further violence‟.
According to Amnesty International, “the government has an obligation to defend and protect the people; its failure to provide security for people in Rivers State especially in Emohua, Khana and Gokana local government
areas and its failure to investigate and prosecute those responsible for these killings created an atmosphere of fear and bloodshed in the region.”
The victims of Rivers State killings include environmental activist Baribefe Bornu (39) who was killed alongside 2 others; Giobari Thomas Eele and Barivale Amos.
This is a period within which the NBA proposed Speaker,
Nyesom Wike is the Governor of Rivers State!
7. The high handedness of Governor Nyesom Wike and his penchant for disrespect for rule of law and abuse of office made Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP to drag him to ECOWAS Court over
rights violations in Rivers State in Suit No. ECW/CCJ/APP/20/20 filed by its Solicitors, Messrs Kolawole Oluwadare, Atinuke Adejuyigbe and Opeyemi Owolabi.
The case detailed how Governor Nyesom Wike used Executive Orders 1 and 6, 2020 as instruments to violate and abuse the
rights to liberty and freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention, to a fair
trial, and to property, contrary to Nigeria‟s International human rights obligations, including under the African Charter on Human and Peoples‟
Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
8. Senior Counsel, Mr Femi Falana, SAN aptly described Wike‟s demolition of
the two hotels as primitive adding that “Wike should not be allowed to get away with the brute force and the violation of the nation‟s Constitution.
The Constitution supersedes the Governor‟s order. Any offender, regardless of the crime he committed, should be arrested, charged to
court and tried in line with the laws of the land. It is unfortunate that these events are happening in Port Harcourt where the Governor of the
State is a senior lawyer and not just a lawyer. I‟m even informed that he‟s a member of the Body of Benchers. That is an embarrassment; a
colossal embarrassment to the Nigerian Bar Association”.
Therefore, we strongly demand that Governor Nyesom Wike who was described by Mr Femi Falana, SAN as „an embarrassment; a colossal embarrassment to the Nigerian Bar Association‟ should be withdrawn/removed from speaking at
the AGC within twenty-four hours of receipt of this petition.
Kindly be informed that before this needless crises that the NBA has plunged
itself into, we have ensured that overwhelming number of us registered to
attend the Conference. Your quick response to this request would determine our next line of action with regards to the Conference and subsequent programmes of the NBA.
A stitch in time saves nine!
Yours in the cause of promoting the rule of law,
Kazeem Oyinwola ESQ. Adesina Ogunlana ESQ.
Ahmed Nwakamma III, Esq.
1. Dr. Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, Chairman, Board of Trustees, NBA
2. Paul Usoro, SAN, President, NBA
3. Olumide Akpata, President-Elect, NBA
4. Muslim Lawyers Association of Nigeria, MULAN
5. Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Nigeria, CLASFON
6. National Association of Catholic Lawyers, NACL
7. International Federation of Women Lawyers, FIDA Nigeria
8. Nigeria Bar Association Young Lawyers‟ Forum