In support of the on-going debate by the National Assembly to reorganize the voting calendar for the 2019 general elections, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo 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.
The Governor made the call while addressing the 2018 Annual Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) Section on Legal Practice Conference in Port Harcourt on Thursday.
Governor Wike urged Nigerian legal practitioners to rise up and insist on the relevance of the amended Electoral Act 2010.
He 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.”
Governor Wike said though the 2010 Electoral Act was enacted to promote credible elections, the All Progressive 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 in view of the fraudulent activities of INEC, APC and the Police , the Tribunal and the Court of Appeal upheld results concocted by the Police for the Rivers Rerun Elections
He said: “We all saw how results sheets were duplicated with identical serial numbers and handed over to the police to entre fake results and returns in favour of the candidates of the APC in the said elections.
“In spite of 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.”
Governor Wike urged the legal profession to constantly reinvent and reposition itself in response to existing and new challenges both in the theory and practice of the law.
The governor also said lawyers must also rethink the way they practice to remain relevant in the profession and meet the needs of their clients and society in the most professional, diligent and efficient manner.
Declaring the conference open, Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onoghen, represented by Justice AB 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 Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN) said the Nigerian Bar Association Section on Law Practice is a vehicle for deepening professional practice in the bar.
Chairman of NBA Section on Legal Practice, Mainnaya Essien (SAN) said recent ethical issues require an appraisal of practice and challenges.
The NBA President presented a recognition plaque to Governor Wike for the outstanding contributions of the Rivers State Governor to the legal profession.