Rivers State governor, Mr Nyesom Wike, has called on Nigerians to prevail on the National Assembly to override President Muhammadu Buhari’s veto of the 2010 Electoral Act Amendment Bill to guarantee free, fair and credible electoral system in the country.
Addressing the 2018 Annual Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, Section on Legal Practice Conference in Port Harcourt,Thursday, Wike said: “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 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, to defend the democratic values of our society.”
Wike said though the 2010 Electoral Act was enacted to promote credible elections, the All Progressives Congress, APC, working with the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC and the Police manipulated the Act to rig the rerun elections in Rivers State.
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.
“Despite this law, we all saw how both the tribunal and the Court of Appeal anchored their verdicts on results that were generated and certified from the custody of the Nigerian Police, while the results from INEC, which conducted the elections, were branded irrelevant and accordingly rejected.”
“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 that 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.”
Declaring the conference open, Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onoghen represented by Justice A. Gumel said the timing of the conference is right as it will allow the bench and bar the opportunity to appraise emerging issues of justice delivery.
He urged judges to adhere to the tenets of the law in their delivery of judgments.
President of the NBA, Mr Abubakar Mahmoud, SAN, said the NBA Section on Law Practice is a vehicle for deepening professional practice in the bar.