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Rivers State Governor Chief Nyesom Wike said the ongoing dispute between the state and federal government over the legitimate authority to impose and collect value added taxes (VAT) has enormous constitutional implications which must be dealt with succinctly.
Wike made the claim during the presentation of the book, Contemporary Essays on Law & Practice, in honor of retired Federal High Court Justice Anwuri Chikere, in Port Harcourt last Friday.
The Governor of Rivers State said the whole country is waiting for the speedy resolution of the VAT dispute which is now before the Supreme Court.
The governor said that in reality, the judiciary remains the ultimate guardian of the nation’s constitution.
According to him, the judiciary is the protector of the rule of law and the guarantor of the people’s constitutional rights and freedoms, which should play out in the VAT dispute.
“While the whole country awaits its speedy resolution in the national interest, the Supreme Court of Nigeria remains lethargic in hearing this very important case, thereby unjustifiably assisting the Federal Government to continue with its illegal and oppressive VAT policy. on the diet. ”
Wike also pointed out that judicial independence is truncated when judges are subjected to summary trials and preconceived indictments by an all-powerful quasi-judicial body at the behest of individuals or parties with a vested interest in the outcome of the legal proceedings.
He noted with dismay that the National Judicial Council (CNJ) was becoming a willful tool to intimidate judges who were merely carrying out their constitutional duties.
By doing so, he said, the National Judicial Council (CNJ) could join the league of ungodly forces currently attacking the independence and reputation of magistrates across the country.
“My sincere opinion is that the National Council for the Judiciary must exercise the utmost caution in matters of judicial complaints and discipline, lest it be transformed, knowingly or unknowingly, into another tyrant to be feared rather than to be respected in his roles as director and guardian angel of the nation’s judiciary.
Wike emphasized that the judiciary was the exclusive authority by which all persons, authorities, and agencies were subject to the precepts and precepts of the Constitution and the ordinary laws of the nation, even if exclusively enacted by the legislative branch.
The governor said no nation can be considered free, just and fair without a strong, independent and functioning judiciary.
He also observed that no democracy can survive, flourish and bring social and economic progress without a courageous, efficient and effective judiciary.
Wike therefore urged magistrates to relive the days when the country’s judiciary was truly independent, made up of men and women of courage who were publicly trusted to deliver justice fairly and fairly to all.
“There was also a time when our judges were respected around the world for their independence, courage and credibility.
“Again, the time was when the decisions of the Nigerian courts were widely accepted and celebrated across the world as timeless models of judicial precedents.
“But today, what is your sincere assessment of the character and integrity of our country’s justice system, which is becoming increasingly confusing and painfully contradictory.”
Speaking further, Wike highlighted concerns that range from the backlog of cases, mismanagement of cases and endemic delays in the administration of justice that have seriously eroded public confidence in the judiciary and its ability to deliver justice to ordinary citizens.
“There are also serious concerns about the apparent lack of courage of several judges and the declining quality of the judgments of our courts at all levels.
“Having succumbed to fear, intimidation and blackmail, most of our judges are forced to tailor their judgments to the wishes and desires of powerful political interests.”
Wike, however, commended the few bailiffs who kept hope alive with their extraordinary courage.
He said their exemplary loyalty to the rule of law and their firm determination to ensure that justice is not only done, but is seen to have been done in the cases before them, shows that any hope is not lost.
Acknowledging Judge Chikere’s full years of meritorious judicial service, Wike said that as a judge, the celebrant demonstrated absolute independence of mind.
Wike also noted that Judge Chikere displayed excellent judicial temperaments by always being calm, courteous and compassionate to everyone, including her colleagues, lawyers and litigants inside or outside the office.
Earlier, Wike had attended the farewell court session at Federal High in Port Harcourt held in honor of Judge Chikere.
Speaking at the event, Chief Justice of the Federal High Court, Justice John Terhemba Tsoho, represented by Justice Binta Nyanko, noted that Justice Chikere served the judiciary with merit for 19 years with her health and its integrity intact.
Justice Tsoho said that keeping pace with a long judicial career in Nigeria was no small task, saying Justice Chikere had successfully overcome adversities and challenges.
“As we come together to celebrate this outstanding judicial officer for her years of impressive service to the nation, the occasion evidently culminates the attribute of fame that excellence and selfless service are virtues worthy of emulation.
“Sir. Justice Chikere is particularly calm and collected, and very much like a mother to many colleagues. remarkably humble, peaceful, friendly, humane, honest, generous, incorruptible and hardworking.
For his part, Rivers State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Professor Zacchaeus Adangor, SAN, said the celebrant’s highly rewarding and fulfilling career began on January 17, 1986, when she was employed in the public service of Rivers State as a state. Tip 11.
He said that through hard work, Justice Chikere enjoyed an impressive career progression to become Acting Director of Civil Litigation on July 14, 1998, before taking up the duties of Counselor at the Federal High Court.
“My Noble Lord has distinguished herself on the bench for her brilliant rulings and judgments, her firm control of her proceedings, and her fairness to practitioners of law and litigants who have appeared before her. My Noble Lord is known to be a judge fearless and courageous who meted out justice without fear or favour, affection or ill will.
The President of the Bar Association of Nigeria (NBA), Olumide Apata, represented by the President of the Port Harcourt branch of the NBA, Prince Nyekwere, described Justice Chikere as a quintessential and consummate judge, who, without indulging in frivolities, discharged his duties fairly, and retired without blemish on his record of service.
Speaking on behalf of the Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN), the former President of the Bar Association of Nigeria, OCJ Okocha, acknowledged that Justice Chikere was known to be diligent, hardworking and fearless in her dedication to duty. court with an intact file.
In her response, Judge Anwuri Chikere said her time on the federal bench has made her a better person.
She expressed her gratitude to the former Governor of the State, Dr. Peter Odili, who was accompanied by his wife, Supreme Court Justice Mary Odili, for allowing her to be transferred from the judicial civil service of the State to the Federal Judicial Service, and her husband, Member of the House of Representatives, the Honorable Ken Chikere, for his many encouragements which helped her to become a successful judicial officer.