The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has taken serious exception to effusions of Mr. Dave Umahi who was sacked from his seat as governor of Ebonyi State by a Federal High Court in Abuja.
The governor and his deputy, were sacked by the court for defecting from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on which platform they were elected to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The court held that they vacate their respective positions since they were not elected by the votes of the APC.
But an obviously incensed Umahi in reacting to the courts verdict called the judge unpredictable names, accusing him of being bought over by the opposition party.
The NBA in a vehement response disapproving of Umahi’s diatribe demanded for an immediate apology from the sacked governor for his use of uncouth language against the person of a judge and for desecrating the judicial institution, saying it’s an attitude unbecoming of a man in an executive position.
The NBA statement signed by the chairman of Barrister Olumide Akpata, reads in full;
“The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has noted with utter dismay, the unfortunate and totally unacceptable reaction of H.E. Engr. Dave Umahi, to the judgment of the federal high court, Abuja delivered on 8th March 2022, by Honourable Justice Inyang Ekwo which inter-alia ordered him and H.E. Mr. Eric Kelechi lgwe to vacate the offices of governor and deputy governor, respectively, of Ebonyi state on grounds of their defection from the Peoples’ Democratic Party to the All Progressives Congress.
“Following the judgment, Engr. Umahi, in the course of a press conference – video evidence of which is currently making the rounds on both new and mainstream media – threw caution to the wind and deployed very uncomplimentary adjectives and intemperate language in characterising both the judgment and Hon. Justice Ekwo, including but not limited to describing the judgment as “jungle justice” and His Lordship as “a hatchet man”.
“As if these were not enough, Engr. Umahi accused the court of “murdering justice” and also arrogated to himself the judicial powers and magisterial authority to declare the judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction as null and void while unashamedly declaring his intention to disregard the judgment in favour of another. To put it plainly, this is impunity of the highest order and executive rascality taken too far.
“It is for this reason that we condemn without equivocation, Engr. Umahi’s unfortunate diatribe which, if it had emanated from an average litigant, would still have been regarded as shocking but coming from one who occupies the exalted office of a state governor, is nothing short of a national embarrassment.
“In the wake of the judgment, one would have expected Engr. Umahi to sue for calm from his supporters and to assure them that all legal and constitutional avenues would be explored to challenge the judgment. For H.E. Engr. Umahi to instead resort to attacking and denigrating the high office of a judge in this unprecedented manner is disgraceful, undemocratic and completely unacceptable.”
“As Kayode Eso, JSC of blessed memory famously noted, “the essence of the rule of law is that it should never operate under the rule of force or fear.” We view Engr. Umahi’s reaction to this judgment as being consistent with the current penchant, on the part of those in the executive arm of government, for intimidating the judiciary whilst taking advantage of the historical reluctance of that arm of government to rise to its own defence.
“In light of the foregoing, the NBA hereby demands an immediate apology from H.E. Engr. Dave Umahi and a retraction of the comments he made against the person and judgment of the Hon. Justice Inyang 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 comments were made.”