Major test of Executive Order 006: Has Wike trouble on his hands?
A major attempt to challenge Executive Order 006 which has formed the basis of some of the actions of the Rivers State Government in the fight against the Coronavirus has commenced in Port Harcourt.
In a suit filed by the Northern community before a Federal High Court, which would be heard in June, the litigants are asking for a declaration that the action of the Rivers State Government relating the seizure of their trucks, cattle and agricultural produce is illegal.
They are also asking for compensation in the sum of one hundred million naira as damages.
The provisions of the executive order has led to mixed reactions among the people as well as lawyers, with many suggesting that those provisions relied on by Governor Nyesom Wike contradict the intentment of the Nigerian Constitution.
The Governor had said in response to widespread criticisms pertaining to the enforcement of Executive order 006 that the instrument has not been set aside by any competent court of law.
From every indication, this is the first time that guidelines which the Rivers State Government claims derives strength from extant laws would be subjected to a test.
Other Nigerians vexed by the extent to which Governor Wike has taken the enforcement of government guidelines have insisted that those affected by the use or misuse of power should challenge the Rivers Governor in court.
Oby Ezekwesili, a one-time Federal Minister who does not believe Wike exhibited self discipline had urged the hoteliers whose properties were destroyed to demand justice in court
What shall the court do when it hears the case on June 1, 2020? Will the Wike administration triumph? Or will it be defeated by the litigants who believe that their rights have been grossly violated?
It is too early in the day to predict what is likely to happen, but a defeat for the Rivers Government might spell trouble for Wike.
His image has taken a battering in recent times, with some describing him as a dictator and an emperor.
Femi Falana, fiery lawyer and activist said in his reaction that Wike is a disgrace to the Nigeria Bar Association and the Body of Benchers.
Falana’s remark underscores the feeling by a section of the people that the rule of law is on trial in Rivers State.
Those who share this view allege Wike has become the accuser, the prosecutor and the judge in his own case.
Dakuku Peterside referred to Wike as a dictator, saying he had been aware all along that the governor has dictatorial tendencies.
Austin Tam George, a former Commissioner for Information under the Wike administration described his former boss as a misfit. OCJ Okocha, SAN, however disagrees with Wike’s critics, saying the Governor has acted within the ambit of the law.
Until Executive order 006 is defeated in court, Wike continues to uphold its provisions which empower him to arrest, detain and prosecute those who fail to obey guidelines which urge the people to stay back at home in their own interest.
The same order had empowered the governor to destroy two hotels without reference to a court of law.
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