The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has called on the Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, to immediately apologize for his attack on Justice Inyang Ekwo of a Federal High Court in Abuja for sacking him from office for defecting to the All Progressives Congress (APC) from the party that brought him to power, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Justice Ekwo, in his ruling on Tuesday, had also ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct another election in Ebonyi State within 90 days, while Umahi and his deputy were also ordered to refund monies collected since they defected in office.
Umahi, however, reacted to the ruling, describing the judge and the ruling in unprintable terms.
The President of the NBA, Mr. Olumide Akpata, reacted to Umahi’s outburst in a statement on Wednesday, saying, “The NBA reacted with great dismay to the unfortunate and totally unacceptable reaction of Dave Umahi to the judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja, dated 8. March 2022, Coram Justice Inyang Ekwo, which, among other things, ordered that he and Eric Igwe must vacate the offices of Governor and Deputy Governor, respectively, of Ebonyi State as a result of their switch from the Peoples’ Democratic Party to the All Progressives Congress.
“Following the judgment, Engr. Umahi in a press conference – video of which is currently making the rounds in the new and mainstream media – threw all caution to the wind and used very unkind adjectives and inappropriate language to characterize both the judgment and Justice Ekwo.
“As if this was not enough, Engr. Umahi accused the court of “judicial murder” and arrogated to himself the judicial powers and judicial authority to nullify the judgment of a competent court.
court null and void, while shamelessly declaring his intention to
disregard the judgment in favor of another. “To put it bluntly, this is impunity of the highest order and executive racketeering gone too far.
Although the NBA has absolutely no interest in the outcome of the case in question and will continue to stay out of partisan politics, it is inconceivable that this association, which is charged with upholding the rule of law and defending the judiciary, would stand idly by in the face of this unprovoked and totally unjustified attack on the judiciary.
“Indeed, the leadership of the NBA has been inundated with calls from many well-meaning Nigerians who are understandably outraged by Umahi’s remarks and rightly demand that appropriate measures be taken to protect the sanctity of the judiciary. For this reason, we condemn Umahi’s unfortunate tirade, which if it had come from an average litigant would still have been considered shocking, but coming from someone who holds the exalted office of governor of a state, it is nothing less than a national embarrassment.
“In the aftermath of the verdict, one would have expected Umahi to plead for calm from his supporters and assure them that he will exhaust all legal and constitutional avenues to challenge the verdict. That Umahi instead attacks and denigrates the high office of a judge in this unprecedented manner is shameful, undemocratic, and completely unacceptable.
“As Kayode Eso, JSC of blessed memory, famously observed, “[t]he essence of the
Rule of Law is that it should never function under the rule of force or fear.” We believe that Umahi’s response to this ruling is consistent with the executive branch’s current penchant for intimidating the judiciary while exploiting that branch of government’s historical reluctance to defend itself.
“In view of the above, NBA hereby demands an immediate apology from Umahi and a retraction of his utterances against the person and judgment of Justice Ekwo of the Federal High Court.
“It is also our demand that this apology and retraction be given as much media coverage as the press conference where the unfortunate remarks were made,” he added.