A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Femi Falana, has said that the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, is an embarrassment to the Body of Benchers.
He added that the Governor needs to be suspended by the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA.
Falana said that the development in Port Harcourt, where Governor Wike personally supervised the demolition of two Hotels that allegedly disobeyed the Executive Order 6, preventing them from operating during the Covid-19 lockdown in the State, is very disturbing, stressing that, Governor Wike should not be allowed to continue to violate the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
The Human Rights Lawyer, also stated that the Executive Order relied upon by Governor Wike for his action, is an administrative instrument with guidelines, and not a Law, adding that, the Constitution supersedes the Governor’s orders.
Falana added that any offender, regardless of the crime committed, should be charged before a Court, and tried in line with the Law.
“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 am even informed that he is a member of the Body of Benchers; that is an embarrassment. A colossal embarrassment to the Nigerian Bar Association.
“Under our Law, an emergency situation under the Quarantine Act, does not permit the demolition of a house by an alleged offender. Whoever has breached the Law, will have to be tried and convicted by a Court of Law, before a sentence can be pronounced.
“There is no provision for even the President to take the Law into his hands, and then begin to mete out punishments to citizens, without recourse to the Constitution.
“We hope that the Governor will be properly advised to reverse his decisions, publicly apologise, and restore the properties of those that have been destroyed. Everyone will have to go through a judicial process. That is what the rule of Law is all about.
“The guidelines and regulations in the Executive Order, are subject to the Constitution. So, if there is a conflict in the guidelines, the directives of the Governor and the Constitution, his directives will bow to the Constitution.
“The right to property, fair hearing, and liberty, are constitutional rights. No Governor has the power to dismiss these rights under the pretext of enforcing the Covid-19 regulations.
“I expect the victims of his actions to take legal actions, because I have seen the Executive Order of the Governor, there is no provision for demolishing properties. Only a Court of Law can do that, and that is after being found guilty. What is done in civilised places, is for the Governor to obtain an order of interim forfeiture, and then go through a trial.
“No Constitution allows a Governor to become the maker of a Law, accuser, witness, enforcer of the Law, the Prosecutor, and the Judge, at the same time. It is primitive”, Falana said.