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Ex- Port Harcourt NBA Boss Predicts Peaceful Re-run Elections In Rivers

BARR. AMACHREEChief O. T. K.D Amachreee, a legal practitioner and a former chairman of the Port Harcourt branch of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) on Tuesday spoke with our Managing Editor, Damiete West. He spoke on plethora of issues ranging from Buhari administration, Wike’s government to the planned re-run elections in Rivers State. Except:

Question: Looking at the activities of the judiciary in Nigeria, one can conclude that courts are highly politicized. In your opinion how can the judiciary move forward?
Ans: I don’t think that it is true that courts are highly politicized. What happen is that every case is judged on the facts of the case. And just as every coin has two (2) faces. The courts will act on the materials at their disposal. I will say courts are politicize because they deal with politicians who always like their issues to always be on the pages on newspapers. There are thousands more of other cases courts decide. And for politicians they easily polarize issues.
Question: How do you describe the judgments delivered by the various Election Petitions Appeal Tribunal Sitting in Abuja, especially the ones in Rivers where PDP lost all its seats in the National Assembly?
Ans: Cases are decided on the facts that were presented before the courts. And the fact that PDP lost all their National Assembly seats, perhaps means that the judges at the Tribunal level and now the Justices at the Court of Appeal level must have found faults in the facts presented. But unfortunately for National Assembly their cases didn’t go on Appeal to the Supreme Court and so the last court of the land does not have the opportunity to pronounce on the facts of these cases. The decisions of the courts are there for us to read. Sometimes courts took decisions that they tell lawyers don’t cite this, “We took the decisions because of the exigencies of the times. Maybe, some of these judges will belong to those classes of judgments.
Question: Do you see the possibility of breakdown of laws and order during the re-run election in Rivers State?
Ans: Far be it. We the people of Rivers State are very peaceful. Elections have become a thing of practice to us. We have had several elections. Sincerely Rivers people are already made up their minds on who to vote and what to vote for. If elections are held twenty (20) times on the same issues, for goodness sake the victorious party will remain the victorious party. In Rivers State pensioners, civil servants were owed several months of salary and arrears. How will you change their minds to vote a party that will pay them their dues? Voters who suffer bad roads and all sorts of negligence of public facilities how will change their minds to vote for party that is giving them those things now.
You can not change their minds. Even though some people may be out to foment troubles, they will not succeed. The election in Rivers State will be peaceful because people will go out to vote in their numbers. All we shall ask is that the security apparatuses should made themselves available and maintain peace and elections will pass on without any incident.
Question: Are you satisfied with the APC led government in the country?
Ans: When you say the APC led government I am sure you are talking about our President, Muhammadu Buhari. He has said that Nigerians should not be quick in giving judgment to his rule. So far Nigerians are not disappointed, but they are not happy too, because promises that were made during the elections are not being fulfilled. The scarcity of fuel in Nigeria today is giving people nightmares. The upward swings buying of foreign exchange are also affected traders and business men. So people are not yet disappointed but they are feeling unhappy. They are feeling helpless in the situation they found themselves let the federal; government be quick in making things easy for business people, otherwise like the Deputy President of the Senate warned there could be revolution if this tight fist governance of the people continue for a long while. So the National Assembly is not populated by APC legislators alone, there are PDP Senators and other lesser parties that have representatives. If the legislators show a direction, the executive will follow. Even though the government at the federal level is led by the APC; other parties also have roles to play. They should think of the happiness of all Nigerians. The comforts of all Nigerians and the need for hope for all Nigerians.
Question: Critically assess the administration of Chief Nyesom Ezenwo Wike in the past six (6) months
Ans: As a citizen of this state that will be very difficult question to tackle. To be sincere and on a non-partisan level, let me say he is trying, but I just hope he should not be gimmick to buy the minds of the people and then abandon them midsea. He has brought happiness to the faces of the pensioners. He has brought laughter to the faces of civil servants who the past government owed months of the arrears of salary. He has reached arrears in Port Harcourt that didn’t know that good roads could still be constructed right in the front of their houses. Roads are wearing new faces with drainages on both sides, and ofcourse it is given the city a beautiful look. So in the terms of ecstatic, yes, he is doing well. But again, I think that government should be up to its duties. Our residential houses in Port Harcourt that have stores constructed illegally should be closed down. So that markets will have the meaning for which they are built. Residential houses have nothing to do with stores.
I think it is wrong for that kind of policy to be maintained. Again, security is becoming a problem in the state. In the area I came from, until recently, kidnapping become a serious problem that stopped most of us from traveling home, or coming out from the home to the city. That I think is being addressed at the moment, but there should be more efforts. Agitations by people in this state should be controlled to the level of talking instead of going to the stage of fighting.
People unnecessarily come up to heat up the polity by going to the streets. Recently we had something some people called Black Monday and other came up and called their own peace day. We don’t need these things. People in all the political parties in the Rivers State are not up to one-tenth of our population. Rivers State is about 5.3m residents, I don’t think that all the parties put together their membership is up to five hundred thousand. They should stop disturbing us and respect us as citizens that don’t belong to any political parties.
So, I wish him (Wike) luck, more grease to his elbow. So far, he (Wike) has done well but there are still many things to be achieved.
Question: There are series of violent agitations across the country perpetrating by the Biafrans, Boko Haram sect, ex-militants and several other groups. Don’t you think that these agitations will affect the peaceful co-existence of Nigeria?
Ans: The Americans told us Nigeria will stop to exist in 2015, but we are sixteen (16) days to the end of the year 2015. Nigeria is still existing. They are not God, so Nigeria has survived 2015. So also for Boko Haram, Biafrans and Niger Delta militants or whatever name they call themselves do not succeed in breaking up Nigeria. Nigeria has come to stay. It is now left for the federal, state and the local governments to ensure that public funds that entrusted to them are use for the benefit of the citizenry. All these agitation will go to the background, once people find food on their table, once people are assured that there is educations, once people have electricity in their houses, once graduates know that they will be employed,. Once farmers know that what their produce will be bought. These are the issues. Independence from who to who? You are in minority today shouting in Nigeria, the other place you are going to you will still be in minority. Who told Biafrans that as a Kalabari man, I am a Biafran. Must they force me to belong to Biafran. They cannot, so those agitations are all pump by economic distress. They are people looking for relevance politically, so that they will gain by lining their pockets with money.
Question: What advise do you have for Rivers people ahead of the planned re-run election?
Ans: Rivers people should show maturity, you cannot stop being partisan, but if you are being partisan do it with responsibility. We need peace, development, unity in this state. So any divisive element should be put aside, whether someone is from upland or riverine. Is he the person to achieve our goals? Is he the person that will bring about unity? Is he the person that will bring about development. That is what we should stand for. No body should be preparing for war, because there is no need for even a battle. Election is not for fight. Election day is for you to go out there, get accredited, vote and return to your house.
Let me insist that in this election that is coming, whether is for the state or National Assembly or governorship as some people are thinking, let every voter stays behind at his or her polling booth and ensure that the election that he or she went for is concluded and the results collated and announced at the booth before he or she leaves because if all of us ensure that, it will difficult for those who rig after we have left. And let INEC be responsible in ensuring that materials are produced and circulated on time so that voting will start on time and finish on time. And I know that the re-run election will be peaceful. ###

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