The decision of a Rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt which yesterday annulled the Justice Biobele Georgewill Judicial Commission of Enquiry probing the July 9 and 10 fracas in the state House of Assembly, has been hailed by the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) faction led by Chief Felix Obuah.
Information Nigeria recalls that the panel was set up by Governor Rotimi Amaechi in the wake of the violence that rocked the State House of Assembly last month in which five members purportedly attempted to impeach the Speaker – Hon. Otelamaba Dan Amachree – and install their own, Mr. Evans Bipi.
However, in granting the two reliefs sought by the applicant, Mr. Victor Ihunwo, one of the five anti-Amaechi lawmakers, Justice Iyayi Lanmikaran of the state High Court held that the executive has no right to dabble into the affairs of the legislature under the 1999 Constitution just as she also faulted part of the commission’s terms of reference which, according to her, infringes on criminal issues that ought to be handled by regular courts.
In hailing the decision of the Court, the Obuah-led faction of the PDP in the state said the nullification of the commission has “vindicated the position of the party that the setting up of the Commission ab initio was ill-intended and had no other motive than to witch-hunt perceived opponents of Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi who is also a party in the crisis.”
Speaking through Mr. Jerry Needam, the Special Adviser on Media to Mr. Obuah, the party lauded the courage displayed by the judiciary to “insist on the truth and the fact that Gov Amaechi who was physically present at the scene of the incident and fully took part in the fracas cannot deny being part of the crisis and therefore cannot turn round to investigate the matter in whatever guise, as that would amount to a breach of natural justice to be a judge in one’s own case.
“We are happy and wish to express our renewed confidence in the Nigerian judiciary to uphold justice in the face of intimidation and wanton display of power.
“Particularly noteworthy is the recognition of the fact that the state legislature is a separate arm of government as significant as both the executive and the judiciary and must not be hijacked by either of the arms.”
It wondered why individual members of the dissolved commission of enquiry accepted to serve in such a body “which it described as a tool for indictment of opponents and probably, also aimed to rubbish the hard earned reputation of the members of the panel.”
Meanwhile, the State’s Attorney General and Commisioner for Justice, Worgu Boms declined comment on the verdict.