THE Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) yesterday alleged dominance of the judiciary by a section of the country.
It also demanded investigation of allegations of ‘collusion and conspiratorial plots’ capable of derailing democratic governance in the polity.
In a statement signed jointly by the National Co-ordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director, Zainab Yusuf, the group cited recent judgment of the election petition tribunals of Rivers and Akwa Ibom states as reference points to buttress its position.
The rights group also faulted the current status quo whereby the key figures heading the various national hierarchies of the Nigerian judicial system such as the Chief Justice of the Federation, the President of the Nigerian Court of Appeal and the Chief Judge of Federal High Court of Nigeria coming from one section of the country in a country with diversities and with half a dozen geo-political zones.
HURIWA said it is against the law of equity and indeed the Constitutional Federal Character Principle for Northern Nigeria to produce the leaderships of all the branches of the court system in Nigeria at a time that mutual distrust is at its dangerous peak, calling for immediate remedial measures to introduce equity and fairness in these judicial hierarchies.
The group, which said it is an anomaly that such a constitutional breach of the Federal Character principle as enshrined in Section 14 (3) has been allowed to endure in the judicial arm of government that ought to operate as the custodian of our laws, recalled that currently the only existing national hierarchies of the Nigerian judiciary are headed by persons from Northern Nigeria as follows: Justice Mahmud Mohammed as the Chief Justice of Nigeria; Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa as President of the Nigerian Court of Appeal and Justice Ibrahim Auta as the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court.
It said a way must be found to infuse equity and balance in the composition of the heads of these key branches of our court system in order to redress the inherent imbalance and gross violation of the Federal Character principle.
HURIWA reminded the leadership of the Nigerian court system that even the Coat of Arm of Nigeria adopted on May 20, 1960 which emphatically preaches unity and faith, peace and progress is against the extant breach of the Federal Character principle in the composition of the hierarchies of the three significant units of the judicial arm of government because the concentration of these key decision-making positions to individuals from a particular zone of the country will rather than engender unity and peace has created chasms and distrust among Nigerians.
It said it was deeply concerned by the widening spectre of confusion, arguments and counter-arguments between the national ruling party – All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition party – Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on one hand and a section of the judiciary and the national hierarchy of the PDP on the other hand over a groundswell of allegations of unfairness in the annulment of the April 2015 governorship elections in the PDP-controlled Rivers and Akwa Ibom states by the election petition tribunals.
HURIWA said it was troubling that few weeks after the opposition party alleged that the APC-led Federal Government was deploying the Department of State Service to collude with the election petition tribunals to unseat the governors of Rivers and Akwa Ibom states (two oil rich states whereby PDP reportedly trounced the APC in the last election), the election tribunals either by happenstance or coincidence indeed nullified partly the governorship polls in Akwa Ibom State and totally voided that of Rivers State.