Nigerian Bar Association mocks Governor Umahi for rejecting Court Sack

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The Nigerian Bar Association has condemned Ebonyi State Governor Dave Umahi’s statements regarding his recent dismissal by a Federal High Court.

Umahi and his deputy, Kelechi Igwe, were removed from office by a federal high court on Tuesday due to their defection to the All Progressives Congress, APC, from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Shortly after, Umahi dismissed the judgment, calling it “jungle justice” and describing the presiding judge, Judge Inyang Ekwo, as an “axe man”.

The statement signed by Bar Association President Olumide Akpata read in full;

“The Nigerian Bar Association (“NBA”) has noted with utter dismay the unfortunate and totally unacceptable reaction of HE Eng. Dave Umahi to the judgment of the Federal High Court in Abuja rendered on 8 March 2022, the Honorable Judge Coram Inyang Ekwo who notably ordered him and HE Mr. Eric Kelechi lgwe to vacate the posts of Governor and Deputy Governor of Ebonyi State respectively due to their defection from the Peoples Democratic Party to the All Congress the progressives.

“Following the judgment, Engr. Umahi, during a press conference – the video evidence of which is currently making the rounds in new and mainstream media – threw caution to the wind and used very unflattering adjectives and intemperate language to characterize both judgment and the Hon. Judge Ekwo, including but not limited to describing the judgment as “jungle justice” and His Lordship as “an ax man”. As if that weren’t enough, Engr. Umahi accused the Court of “murdering justice” and also arrogated to himself judicial powers and magisterial authority to declare the judgment of a competent court null and void while shamelessly declaring his intention not to consider judgment in favor of another. To put it plainly, this is first-rate impunity and executive roguery taken too far.

“While the NBA has absolutely no interest in the outcome of the matter in question and will continue to steer clear of partisan politics, it is inconceivable that this association charged with upholding the rule of law and to defend the judiciary stands idly by in the face of this unprovoked and totally unwarranted attack on the judiciary.Indeed, the NBA leadership has been inundated with appeals from a cross section of well-meaning Nigerians who are understandably outraged by the statements of Engr Dave Umahi and who have rightly requested that appropriate measures be taken to protect the sanctity of the judiciary It is for this reason that we unequivocally condemn, Engr. from Umahi which, if it had come from an average litigant, would still have been considered offensive but coming from someone who holds the high office of state governor, is nothing to me Only a national embarrassment.

“Following the judgment, one would have expected that Engr. Umahi to ask his supporters for calm and assure them that all legal and constitutional avenues would be explored to challenge the judgment. For HE Ingr. Umahi to instead resort to attacking and denigrating the high office of a judge in this unprecedented way is disgraceful, undemocratic and totally unacceptable.

“As noted by Kayode Eso, JSC of Blessed Memory, “[t]The essence of the rule of law is that it should never operate under the rule of force or fear. We see Engr. Umahi’s reaction to the judgment is consistent with the current penchant on the part of members of the executive branch of government to bully the judiciary while taking advantage of that branch of government’s historic reluctance to come to its own defense.

“In light of the foregoing, the NBA hereby demands an immediate apology from HE Engr. Dave Umahi and a retraction of comments he made against the person and judgment of the Hon. Judge Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court. It is also our request that this apology and retraction receive as much media coverage as the press conference where the unfortunate comments were made.

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