Access to Justice, a civil rights group in Rivers State has expressed its disappointment in the state’s governor, Nyesom Wike’s dissolution of the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission and the Rivers State Judicial Service Commission.
The group argued that the governor’s actions, which were said to have been based on the recommendation of the State’s House of Assembly, were illegal.
In a statement issued by the group’s Director, Mr. Joseph Otteh, on Sunday, June 14, 2015 emphasized that the action of Governor Wike in dissolving the commissions was wrong.
Otteh said, “These bodies are creations of the Constitution and not the state and neither a state government nor any other government can dissolve what the Constitution has by itself created.
“In relation to the JSC, Wike’s actions will simply compound and deepen the longstanding problems the Rivers State judiciary has endured till this time. A2Justice urges the Chief Judge of the state to reject and disavow the so-called dissolution of the JSC and to refuse the directive to act as the sole administrator of the body.”
The constitution according to Otteh, allowed the establishment of state civil service commission, state independent electoral commission and state judicial service commission for each state of the Federation. And that Section 197 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 which states the composition and powers of each established body.
“These bodies are creatures of the Constitution and even when they work imperfectly, they do not become and cannot be subject to the control of any government. Should they be, they would lose their autonomy and independence and be more widely perceived as partisan institutions that cannot be trusted to take forthright, objective and independent decisions and actions of their own,” he stated.
Otteh also argued that even though the Constitution granted powers to a state governor to remove an individual member of the commission, it however did not grant him the wherewithal to dissolve the commissions in their entirety.
“The idea of dissolving these bodies is therefore illegal and it constitutes a clear violation of the Constitution as well as a serious threat to their independence,” the director concluded.