Ebonyi: Retract your statement against Justice Ekwo, NBA tells Umahi

Joshua Omoloye, Abuja

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has demanded that Engr Dave Umahi retract his uncomplimentary statement against the judgement and person of Justice Inyang Ekwo which sacked him Alongside his deputy, Kelechi Igwe as executive of Ebonyi State.

The NBA described Umahi’s statement as unfortunate and totally unacceptable.

Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja on Tuesday, March 8 ordered Umahi and Igwe 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.

NBA president, Mr Olumide Akpata bemoaned Umahi for throwing “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”.

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He added that “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”.

While the NBA has absolutely no interest in the outcome of the case in question, Olumide said “it will continue to stay away from partisan politics, it is inconceivable that this Association that is charged with upholding the rule of law and defending the Judiciary would sit idly by in the face of this unprovoked and unwarranted attack on the Judiciary.

“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.

Insisting that the rule of law should never operate under the rule of force or fear, the NBA said “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”.

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