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HURIWA To CJN: Respect Is Earned Not Forced On Us

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Prominent civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association Of Nigeria (HURIWA) has come very hard on the Chief Justice of Nigeria Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, accusing him of attempting to intimate, verbally harass, threaten or shut Nigerians up from giving their constitutionally protected opinion on how badly the Justice system in Nigeria is being piloted hy him and the rest of the members of the hierarchy of the judicial system.

HURIWA in a statement signed by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, said that silence in the face of cocktails of illegality amounts to tolerating anarchy.

HURIWA said: “The CJN should not do anything or say anything that will graphically present him as a dictator who seeks to control what Nigerians would say or their opinions about the judiciary in Nigeria.

“The Chief Justice OF Nigeria needs to provide leadership that would attract public acclaim and not try to deploy fallacies and conjectures to try to silent Nigerians who are thoroughly displeased with the distorted and incredibly ridiculous judgments coming especially from the Supreme court of Nigeria including the latest kangaroo verdict which handed over the candidacy of the Senate in Yobe state to the ethically challenged Senate President Ahmed Lawan who did not buy form or run for the position at the lawfully recognised Party primary of the All Progressives Congress thereby denying the lawful winner of his constitutiknal right.”

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HURIWA said: “Why is the CJN behaving like an erratic market trader exchanging words with critics? Why should he not accept criticisms whether good, bad, toxic or irregular since he is holding a public position of trust and earning salaries through the contributions of the taxpayers?

“Why is the CJN wanting us to see him and the judges in the courts as deities when they are just as frail and fickle as anyone of us and since they are imperfect, they are opened to make mistakes as human beings?

“Let it be made known that we are all equal citizens of Nigeria and Citizens are entitled to their opinions no matter how jaundiced or hurtful. Does the CJN expect Nigerians to clap for the justices of the Supreme court of Nigeria where they derail from the cause of justice so notoriously?”, the rights group asked.

HURIWA reminded the Honorable CJN that Nigerians are entitled to all the constitutionally protected fundamental rights enshrined in the chapter four of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 as amended including section 39(1) that states that: “Every person SHALL be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information, without interference”.

Besides, the chapter two of the constitution in section 14(2) (A) provides that “Sovereignty belongs to the People of Nigeria from whom governments through this constitution derives all its powers and authority”, Section 14(2)(c) states that “the participation by the people in their government SHALL be ensured in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.”

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“HURIWA reminds the Chief Justice of Nigeria that Nigeria is a constitutional democracy and not a dictatorship whereby the rights of the citizens are abridged, abused with impunity and so he should be more open to criticisms and provide good governance because when the head is not rotten the entire body will be robustly well.”

HURIWA recalled that the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN)’ Justice Olukayode Ariwoola has said the Supreme Court’s silence on attacks on its judicial officers must not be mistaken for weakness or cowardice.

The CJN gave the warning in a statement issued by Dr Festus Akande, the Supreme Court Director of Press and Information on Saturday in Abuja.

The Rights group recalled that the statement is in reaction to the recent attacks on the judiciary by some group of persons over some recent political judgments delivered by the apex court.

He the CJN warned the public to be mindful of their unwarranted attacks on judicial officers thus: “Certainly, every Nigerian citizen has inalienable right to express his or her opinion without any encumbrance but even in the course of expressing such fundamental right, we should be circumspect enough to observe the caution-gate of self-control in order not to infringe on another person’s right.

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“Even in a state of emotional disequilibrium, we should be reasonable enough to make a good choice of decent words.

“We have watched with utter dismay some unfortunate events that have been unfolding in the country, particularly within the political landscape, for some days now.

“It is so disheartening to learn that some individuals and groups of persons who ought to know better and even assume the revered positions of role models to a larger proportion of the citizens are now sadly, the very ones flagrantly displaying ignorance and infantilism in the course of defending the indefensible.

“We have made it abundantly clear at different occasions that judicial officers are neither political office holders nor politicians that should be dressed in such robes”.

“If political parties fail to organise themselves well by managing their internal wrangling maturely and now chose to bring themselves to the court: we are duty-bound to adjudicate in accordance with the provisions of the law and not the dictates of any individual or deity, as some people would want us to do.”

HURIWA faulted the verbal intimidation of critics who are actually playing constructive roles to ensure that constitutional democracy is not imperiled.

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