Chief O.T.K.D Amachree, a Port Harcourt based legal practitioner on Monday spoke with our Managing Editor, Damiete West on issues ranging from rural development, insecurity, the performance of the CTC chairmen in Rivers and several more excerpt:
Que: Describe the recent swearing-in of the first female Chief Judge of Rivers State, Justice Daisy Okocha by Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike.
Ans: The swearing-in of Hon. Justice Daisy Okocha as the Chief Judge of Rivers State, the first female for that matter, it is a welcome development, but unfortunately the kind of controversies that surrounded it, make it such as though she did not deserve it. She does. She has been an industrious Judge, she has learnt the ropes. She started as the Magistrate and grew from there to become a judge. But unfortunately the politicians unnecessarily politics her appointment. Otherwise, the development is a good one. Good one not just for her profession, but for also the state, because people should be entitled to positions that they gain by dent of hardwork.
Que: Is it right to say that the judiciary as an institution or organ of government is not truly independent in Nigeria?
Ans: That is very correct, even though the constitution and other laws have made it imperative that the three (3) arms of government should be separated in order to provide checks and balances for one another. And the executive is over bearing and none of the legislative arms or even the judiciary is able to challenge the executive. Most time these two arms dance to the tune of the executive arm. Recently, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Mohammadu Buhari made it very obvious in media chat that men like Dasuki and Kanu of the Biafra fame are not persons that should be allowed to be given bail. It is unfortunate that he (President Buhari) made such comments. When courts of law have granted each of them bail. If he wants them to be properly prosecuted, he should go to the Federal Ministry of Justice, called his Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, talk to him on how to prosecute suspects and not to interfere unnecessarily with what the judiciary is doing. I agree, the judiciary in Nigeria is not independent. And before it can become independent, they must have financial independent. In Rivers State, there is a law that says the judiciary is financially independent. But is it being followed. A situation where the governor sits and decides what to give to the each arm of Government. It affects their works as arbiters, in cases between individuals and organizations and against the government. They (judiciary) get influence very well.
Que: In the past few weeks there are lots of political killings across Rivers State. What do you think are responsible for these political motivated killings?
Ans: I am not a militant or ex-militant, and so I am not competent to commend on that. But I think it is greed and avarice and also fight for supremacy. Unfortunately, you will hear of these killings whenever elections are at the corner. Recently the election tribunals and also at the Appeal Tribunal; have rendered most seats vacant. And run-off elections are around the corner. So these militants and ex-militants as they called them are at it again. They are fighting for supremacy. They are fighting for positions, so that when the politicians will come with money to ask them to go and kill, maim and destroy properties they will be in the position to get the money to share or to eat alone. It is unfortunate that youths should expose themselves to such kinds of usage by politicians.
The politician himself is neither a youth or once a youth, in his time did anybody uses him as a thug, or a militant or ex-militant. So why is he encouraging naïve individuals to go astray. It is true that killings have been taken place, it is for the police to fish out. But the majority’s view the killings are political.
Que: Assess the performance of the Caretaker Committees’ Chairmen across the various LGAs in Rivers State.
Ans: Appointment of Caretaker Committees for Local Government Areas is illegal, so there is nothing to assess in illegality. Section 7 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is very obvious you cannot bend. It every local government council should man by the democratic elected individuals so it is illegal. Whatever is illegal, nothing legal can come out of it. At any rate, the CTC chairmen what are they appointed for. It is just to pay salaries, and share the loots to their political supporters. Even at that, some of them are not paying salaries and stipends of workers in the local government councils. Let me narrow it down to my area:
Asalga, Akulga and Delga. The Governor did well to warn them, while he was swearing them in, that he does not want to hear about kidnap in our Kalabari axis. To be fair to them they maintain some stability. And the kidnapping in our areas has been reduced to the barest minimum. But I hope it will continue after the three (3) months that they will be in power. Does this not show us that there must be connection between crime and those in politics. If they know how to minimize kidnapping since why do they not express the magic that they are using now to their predecessors? Why do they wait for the governor to warn them?
I think politicians know these fellows who carrying out the kidnapping. And the earlier they stop them the better otherwise a day of reckoning will come, when the society will revolute with their votes.
Que: In your opinion how can Wike’s administration brings development to the state, especially in the rural communities?
Ans: His Excellency, Gov. Nyesom Wike is embattled because he cannot act it alone. He needs support. He needs elected House of Assembly members. The judiciary as far as I know and believe is stable. But the House of Assembly and even his office until the Supreme Court gives its verdict as if he is not sure whether he will be there or not or whether he will go for another election or re-run in some local government areas. So he (Wike) is not very stable. But so far, so good, he has tried to complete some projects that the last administration toyed with. And he has embarked on fresh ones on his own. But just as you ask, it is correct, these developments should not just be in Port Harcourt or Obio/Akpor local government areas alone. He promised work on the Trans-Kalabari road, nothing has started as far as I am concerned. There are other cities that need circular roads, nothing has happened.
There are towns and village that need good motorable roads, to connect them, nothing has happened. Government has limited herself to paying salaries and constructing roads. Primary schools that were built halfway are still the way they are. Communities are still suffering from transportation problems. Look at us the Kalabari people we cannot travel from the Abonnema wharf to our various Kalabari towns again, because sea pirates will not let us move. So developments should not just be based only in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor. It should spread out, and in doing so houses should be built for citizens.
If government builds and sells people will buy. I don’t mean round shackle houses, but good and befitting houses – two (2) bed rooms, duplexs as they did at the Trans-Amadi Gardens. People will buy and live decent life. Development should spread across the state . ###