Journalism of Courage

Demolition: Falana repremands Gov. Wike, action primitive, embarrassing to lawyers 


Rivers State Governor, Mr Nyesom Wike, a senior lawyer, has been slated and censured by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana, for personally supervising the demolition of two hotels in the state over alleged violation of COVID-19 lockdown order.
Launching a diatribe on the governor, Falana described him as an embarrassment to the Body of Benchers in the country of which Woke is a member.
For breaching the 1999 Constitution, Falana has asked the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to sanction Wike for acts of impunity and lawlessness.
PerSecondNews recalls that the governor had on Sunday, May 10 mobilised armed security agents and bulldozers to the two hotels in Elele and Onne and personally supervised the demolition for allegedly breaching the state’s lockdown order.
CSOs and lawyers have slammed Wike for the impunity and recklessness.
He declared: “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 while expressing his utter displeasure and disappointment.
Describing the development as very disturbing, the human rights lawyer said Wike should not be allowed to get away with the brute force and the violation of the nation’s Constitution.
The Lagos lawyer noted that  the Executive Order relied upon by Wike “is an administrative instrument with guidelines and not a Law, stressing “the Constitution supersedes the Governor’s order.”
Expounding the position of the law, Falana said any offender regardless of the crime he committed should be arrested and 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 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.
“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,” Falana said.
“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.”
To the owners of the demolished properties, Falana advised:“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.”
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