Watch it! Nzeribe says lawyers may destroy democracy

Posted by By ALVAN EWUZIE on 2009/01/20 | Views: |

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Watch it! Nzeribe says lawyers may destroy democracy

Senator Arthur Nzeribe, the stormy petrel of Nigerian politics is at it again. The two-term former Senator representing Imo East has warned that lawyers in Nigeria may destroy all the gains the country has made in current political dispensation if they do not stop misleading politicians into unnecessary litigations.

Senator Arthur Nzeribe, the stormy petrel of Nigerian politics is at it again. The two-term former Senator representing Imo East has warned that lawyers in Nigeria may destroy all the gains the country has made in current political dispensation if they do not stop misleading politicians into unnecessary litigations.

Worse still, Nzeribe believes the counsels lure their clients to court for pecuniary reasons and then engage in all sorts of legal rigmarole to delay the cases and line their pockets with money.
In an article captioned: “Managing post election protests” Senator Nzeribe stated that while he had nothing against people going to court as a means of protest and seeking redress, we held serious exception to what he described as the “perfidy of many of the counsel handling the cases.”

Continuing, Nzeribe who has been unusually quiet since being edged out of Imo gubernatorial race in 2007 said: “In my opinion the judicial rigmarole and prevarications we have been made to witness since April 2007 is traceable mostly to the penchant of counsel to misadvise or connive at the recalcitrance of their clients who would rather remain in court for ever than have judgement passed against them.”
He argued that while he does not begrudge lawyers their right to make money given that “every occupation has its own periods of boom,” there is need for caution because of the political implication on the evolving democracy.

“I think there is need for us to draw attention to the danger we may face if we continue to believe that to follow the rule of law means one and the same thing as to argue cases for ever.”
The Senator who now champions the creation of Orashi as the additional state from the South East said he had taken the barrage of post-election cases in Imo as his example.
“I have tried to follow some of the cases as much as I could,” he wrote, “and I make bold to say that many of them should not have been instituted in the first place. That they did come up at all was only because the lawyers wanted to earn some fees.”

He said the eventual collapse of 17 of the 18 electoral cases instituted against the election of Chief Ikedi Ohakim in Imo State was a clear indication that the cases ought not to have come up in the first place. Nzeribe said even with the remaining cases had had “experienced a personal sense of frustration.”

The remaining case between Governor Ikedi Ohakim and Senator Ifeanyi Ararume should have been decided long before now according to Nzeribe. He argued that the delay is not traceable to the Appeal Court judges in Port Harcourt but that the “case is a good illustration of this penchant as I noted earlier, of counsel either wanting to make super stardom out of nothing or connive at the recalcitrance of their clients.”

He believe that counsel to Senator Ararume might have known that the seven motions both side took three months to argue were unnecessary and would be dismissed as they were eventually did by the Appeal Court.

He opined that had the court used that time it “wasted” listening to the challenge against some interlocutory rulings at the tribunal, in facing the main matter, it could have long decided the case in favour of either party.

“The dimension the Imo case has taken since November 27, 2008 further heightens my fear that what Nigeria has gained electorally, we may lose at the altar of what one may call legal macabre dance,” said Nzeribe.
In his view the indefinite suspension of the Ohakim Vs Ararume case to allow Chief Martin Agbaso to pursue a pre-election case in Abuja will stretch Imo electorate more than they bargained for. He advised Agbaso and his lawyers to save Imo people the trouble of waiting indefinitely.

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