Ibori: Democracy And Development Advocates Caution Critics of Judiciary

A Human Rights group has cautioned critics of the Judiciary over court decisions that are not in line with their vested interests and expectations as that would necessarily amount to desecration of the globally respected independence and integrity of the Judiciary. The Abuja based group, Democracy and Development Advocates (DDA), in a press statement signed by its Secretary General, Barrister Tochukwu Oghazuruike, said 

that it is high time Nigerians noted that “our courts are courts of law and not of sentiments, and that Judges make their decisions based on facts and credible evidence presented before them. Also, any party in a litigation that is dissatisfied with a court judgement has the constitutional right of appeal, even up to the apex court in the land.

Therefore, DDA said they are worried at the recent trend, which began with the political cases but has now found its way into criminal matters.

An unfortunate example is the recent unguarded and uninformed utterances over last Thursday’s ruling on the Ibori/Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) case where individuals and groups have been criticising the decision of Justice Marcel Awokulehin, of the Federal High Court Asaba, without witnessing the court proceedings, without knowing the facts of the case or the evidence placed before the court. 

This should not be allowed to continue lest it becomes part of our legal tradition as such intimidation could make a Judge to be swayed by sponsored sentiments instead of considering the law and the facts argued before them dispassionately.

According to the statement, “The 1999 Constitution presumes an accused person innocent until the contrary is proved. Also, the essence of criminal trial is to arrive at justice to the accused, the complainant and to the society at large; but not to persecute, defame or ridicule the accused. Moreover, the prosecution is required to prove any allegation beyond reasonable doubt. Above all, valid criminal trials are only held in competent courts of the land and not in the mass media.

Therefore we stringently condemn Chief E.K. Clark, Delta Elders, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and all the other groups that have criticised Justice Awokulehin over his ruling in the Ibori case, since they are not neither the prosecutors nor witnesses in the case. ”