By Davies Iheamnachor
Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has warned the Federal Government against the implementation of the Executive Order 10, stating that it would destroy the Criminal Justice System in states.
Wike also noted that the Executive Order 10, which permits the deduction of funds from each State account to finance the judiciary, was politically motivated and geared towards the 2023 general election.
Wike, in his keynote address presented at the 3rd Annual Nigerian Criminal Law Review Conference organised by the Rule of Law Development Foundation in Abuja yesterday, opined that ahead of the 2023 general election, FG which has been hostile to judges, now suddenly wants to lure the judiciary to assume it believes in independence of judiciary, by enacting Executive Order 10.
The governor in a statement issued in Port Harcourt by his Special Assistant on Media, Kelvin Ebiri, pointed out that politicisation of the issue of security by the FG has continued to negatively affect the criminal justice system in the country, adding that the prevailing cases of kidnapping, banditry and armed robbery which threatens the very existence and stability of the nation clearly justifies the establishment of State or Community Police
He said: “Independence is not to take resources and preside over award of contract. If you cannot give judgment according to your conscience; if you cannot give judgment according to the law, then there is no independence. And this of course affects the criminal justice system.”
He pointed out that while establishment of State Police may require amendment of the extant Section 214(1) of the 1999 Constitution to provide State, the Rivers State Government is of the opinion that community police or Neighbourhood Watch could be established without constitutional amendment.
“The truth of the matter is that with the current strength of the Nigeria Police which stands at about 372, 000, the Police lacks the operational capacity to fulfill its primary or core mandate of crime detection, crime prevention and maintenance of public safety, law and order or protection of lives and property of persons in Nigeria.
“To put it plainly, the Nigeria Police lacks the operational capacity to police the nation which is a federation of about 923.768km (356.669 sqm) with an estimated population of 195.9 million. It is this stark reality that informs call for establishment of State Police to provide complementary role to the Nigeria Police in crime detection, prevention, and maintenance of law and order,” he stated.
He further explained that it was against this background that the Rivers State Government enacted the Rivers State Neighbourhood Safety Corps Law, No. 8of 2018 which establishes the Rivers state Neighbourhood Safety Corps Agency as a corporate body and vested with power to establish uniformed Neighbourhood Safety Corps in the 23 Local government Areas of the State and to prescribe regulations guiding the operations of the Safety Corps and any other Local government vigilante group in the State.
The governor said: “The point being made here is that as long as the Federal Government continues to politicise issues of security whether national or local, so long shall our criminal justice system remain seriously jeopardize. The suzerain power exercisable by the Federal Government over matters of security is made manifest by the irregular postings of Commissioners of Police to the Rivers state Police Command.”