…Rivers State Governor’s unannounced visits to CJN and rude defence
The visits by the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, to the office of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmoud Mohammed, without an appointment, is irresponsible. The reasons he has offered for the visits do not hold water, because he knew that he has a case before the election petition tribunal, and he knows his case could eventually come before the CJN for adjudication. So, was Wike not bothered that his visits could trigger an alarm, that he was seeking an opportunity to compromise the judicial process?
According to Wike’s media aide, the governor had gone to the CJN’s office to discuss the renewal of the appointment of the state acting chief judge, and the state acting president of the customary court of appeal, before the vacation begins. He conveniently chose to forget that as a litigant before the courts, his visits could raise a doubt in the minds of his opponents, about the impartiality of the judicial process, of which the CJN is the chief custodian. But for the fact that Wike did not meet the CJN, it would have been reasonable for his opponents in the election petition case to worry whether Wike had compromised the process, using his influence as a sitting governor.
To make matters worse, Wike chose to make the visit a personal affair, instead of an official visit, which would have seen his protocol officers set up an appointment through the protocol officers of the CJN. Such a process would have made the purpose of his visits clear from the beginning, and so allow the learned jurist an opportunity to accept or decline such inauspicious visits. But for the vigilance of the press, Wike’s clandestine visits, if successful, could have impugned the integrity of the highest judicial official in Nigeria; for it appeared as if Wike was determined to continue his visits to the office of the CJN, until he succeeded.
For many, it is scandalous that a governor would, unannounced, attempt to badge into the office of another state official. It depicted the governor as unmannered in state protocols. But considering that Wike is a former minister of the country, it beggars belief that he could behave in such a manner, unless of course he had other ulterior motive for his two failed attempts to see the CJN. Wike’s political antecedents may have lent credence to the accusation by his opponents, that he holds nothing sacrosanct.
It is also important that Wike reins in his media aides, unless he authorised the gibberish which they tried to pass off in their paid adverts, as explanation for his faux pas.
The attempt to denigrate and impugn the integrity of the reporters who exposed his secret visits should be condemned. If we may ask, did the visits not take place, or did the governor not go to the CJN’s office without official information as to his motives? Or was the governor expecting the reporters not to report that the clandestine visits took place; or is it a lie that Governor Wike’s election is hotly contested by his opponent in the last general elections?
Going forward, we expect that the governor would not make another attempt to visit the CJN, as long as he has a case pending in court. We also expect that if he insists on another round of visits, the CJN would rebuff him. If the governor wants to communicate with the CJN, he should do so in writing. We also urge the CJN to guard his reputation jealously, in the overall interest of our judicial process, regardless of the desperation of those seeking his attention.
Source: The NATION