HURIWA Welcomes Governor Umahi’s Apologies To The Judiciary

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HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) is happy with Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi state for showing a profound sense of humility as demonstrated by his apologies to the judiciary through the hierarchy of the Nigerian Bar Association and IPTO facto to the presiding judge of federal high court Abuja division, Justice Inyang Ekwo regarding his earlier outburst and criticism of a judgment that ordered his removal because he defected from the Peoples Democratic Party to the ruling All Progressives Congress.

Specifically, Governor Umahi said that Justice Inyang Ekwo lacks the power to remove him from office and has put the judiciary on trial.

Recalled that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had approached the court, asking for Umahi’s removal after he defected from the party to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in November 2020.

Citing section 221 of the constitution, Justice Inyang Ekwo ordered the PDP to immediately send names of replacements to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) so that fresh elections can be conducted.

Justice Ekwo also ordered INEC to cease from recognising Umahi and Igwe as the governor and deputy governor of the Ebonyi State.

Delivering judgement in the case, the presiding judge, Justice ordered the governor and his deputy to vacate office, adding that their defection was illegal, null and unconstitutional.

HURIWA recalled that the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, had called on Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State to immediately render an apology for his attack on Justice Inyang Ekwo of a Federal High Court, Abuja, who sacked him from office for defecting from the party that brought him to power, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP to the All Progressives Congress, APC. Coincidentally, the prominent civil rights advocacy group HURIWA similarly demanded apologies for the judiciary from Governor Dave Umahi.

NBA President, Mr Olumide Akpata, while reacting to Umahi’s outburst in a statement on Wednesday, said: “The NBA, has noted with utter dismay, the unfortunate and totally unacceptable reaction of Dave Umahi to the judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja delivered on March 8, 2022, by Justice Inyang Ekwo which inter-alia ordered him and Mr Eric 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.

HURIWA said it is noteworthy that Governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi on Wednesday reversed the alleged uncomplimentary statement made against a judge of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, justice Inyang Ekwo and tendered an apology to the Nigeria Barr Association, NBA.

Umahi apologised while addressing over two thousand members of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, in Ebonyi State at a solidarity rally that took place at the Udensi roundabout, staged to declare their support and loyalty to the governor.

He said that he has mobilized over seventeen (17) SANs to Appeal the judgement of the Federal High court sitting in Abuja led by justice Inyang Ekwo, wherein he was sacked for defecting from the opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to the ruling APC.

The verdict angered the governor who declared that the judge did a “hatchet job”. He called the ruling a “sham”.

But In a statement on Thursday, NBA President, Olumide Akpata recalled that he unequivocally condemned the reaction and demanded a retraction.

Akpata disclosed that Umahi made extensive efforts to reach him.

The lawyer said in their conversation, he stressed that the NBA has no interest in the case other than to ensure that the sanctity of the judicial system is protected.

“In line with our demands, H.E. Engr. Umahi addressed a cross-section of Ebonyi State citizens, where he unreservedly apologised for his comments, clarified his intentions and very importantly too, called for calm while urging his people to refrain from denigrating the Judiciary.

“I will immediately transmit this apology to His Lordship, Hon. Justice Inyang Ekwo and My Lord the Hon. Chief Justice of Nigeria, who is the head of the Judiciary in Nigeria, and urge them to also accept same,” he said.

Akpata reiterated that there is a well-established procedure by law for challenging unfavourable decisions of courts of competent jurisdiction.

The NBA President said: “Now that the right thing has been done & the appeal process has been activated, we shall resume our backseat and allow the process to take its course.

“As far as the NBA is concerned, this brings an end to this unfortunate episode but we hope that important lessons have been learnt”, his statement added.

On it’s own, leading civil rights advocacy group HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) on its own said that it is an uncommon show of humility on the part of the governor to realize his past mistake . Also our attention has been called to the fact that Governor Umahi has the constitutional right to exhaust his right to appeal because it is unjust to beat a child and deny him the opportunity to cry. Our democracy will blossom if politicians follow the good steps of apologising whenever human error of judgment gets the better of them. Indeed we are happy that Governor Umahi has apologised and we appeal to all parties in the political litigation disputation, to follow the due process of the law and avoid violence.

Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko
National Coordinator
HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA)
10th March 2022.

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