HATFIELD, United Kingdom (VOICE OF NAIJA) – The All Progressives Congress (APC), has written the disciplinary committee of the Nigerian Bar Association to report the National Chairman of the Labour Party, Julius Abure, and a spokesman of the party campaign council, Kenneth Okonkwo, for making inciting statements against the justices of the Supreme Court and the judiciary as a whole.
In the petition signed by the National Secretary of APC, Senator Ajibola Basiru, the ruling party considered the act a breach of Abure and Okonkwo’s duty as legal practitioners.
In an exclusive phone chat with The PUNCH, Ajibola stated that as stakeholders in Nigeria’s democracy, they cannot fold their arms and watch the judiciary being brought into disrepute by those who ought to know better.
He said, “It is true that the APC is presenting a petition to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee against the duo of Abure and Kenneth of Okonkwo. The duo make deprecating remarks about the justices of the Supreme Court and the judiciary which acts we consider a breach of their duties as legal practitioners.
“They should defend themselves accordingly rather than their party engaging in unnecessary characteristic ranting.”
Reacting via a statement on Sunday night, National Publicity Secretary of the Labour Party, Obiora Ifoh, emphasised that the petition was a vindication of Abure’s earlier warning that President Bola Tinubu and the APC are planning to come after their chieftains and presidential candidate, Peter Obi.
Ifoh stated that reporting the duo to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee, a unit under the NBA, was the beginning of the rumoured persecution they suspected.
He said, “Nigerians will recall in our press statement of Thursday that we alerted the nation some key leaders of the Labour Party have been earmarked for vilification and persecution using security agencies and other institutions in the aftermath of the judgement of the Supreme Court, on the Presidential Election.
“The party views this action by the APC, less than three days after the Supreme Court judgment, as a confirmation of our suspicion and information of a campaign of persecution, harassment, intimidation and incarceration against the Labour Party and its overwhelming supporters, nationally and globally. We hold firmly and with no fear of contradiction, that every court judgment, especially on political matters, is subject to criticism and administrative review. All authorities in Nigeria including the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria derive their strength and authority from the people. Therefore, all authority in Nigeria is subject to public opinion and oversight.
“Again, we emphatically state, that all those statements were made during Public and press interaction, respective to their political offices and responsibilities, and were not delivered in their personal capacities, or in their professional duties, as legal practitioners. They were purely political statements, delivered in their capacities as the National Chairman of the Labour Party, as well as the spokesperson of the Obi Datti Presidential Council. Probably, the APC leadership is not duly enlightened, that once a judgement is delivered, comments coming afterward, are no longer considered subjudice.
“Several other Nigerians, including notable legal luminaries, including a retiring Justice of the Supreme Court, have also freely expressed their opinions on the procedure and outcome of the Supreme Court Judgement. Therefore, for the APC to isolate our leaders for vilification, by exaggerated and misguided inferences, our fears of persecution have begun to materialise.”
Continuing, the spokesman warned that if the administration succeeds in its alleged dictatorial path to hound and vilify opposition political parties and supporters, it stands to destroy a democracy, still battered and trying to recover, from the unprecedented chain of events witnessed in the aftermath of the election season.
“We call on all democratic fronts in Nigeria, and people of goodwill, to rise up to this ugly and unfortunate development, and to work in joint purpose, towards protecting public opinion, and upholding human rights, in Nigeria, as guaranteed by the Constitution, and international statutes, before they are totally and entirely compromised.
“Finally we appeal to the NBA to not allow itself to be dragged into APC’s murky political ways through which it has shamelessly compromised key institutions,” he stated.