The President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Mr. Olumide Akpata has said that in view of the apology tendered by the sacked Governor of Ebonyi State, Engr. Dav Umahi, the NBA would resume its backseat and allow the judicial process take its course.
Mr. Akpata stated this while commenting on the apology tendered by Gov Umahi which followed NBA’s demand that the Governor must retract and apologize for the uncomplimentary remarks he made against the person of Honourable Justice Iyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court.
Recall that Justice Ekwo had in a judgment delivered on 8th March, 2022 ordered both Gov. Umahi and his Deputy to vacate their offices for defecting to another political party. Miffed by the judgment of the court, Gov. Umahi had in a press conference referred to the judgment as “jungle justice” and His Lordship as “a hatchet man” amongst other uncomplimentary remarks.
According to President Akpata, upon becoming aware of the NBA’s demand, Gov. Umahi reached out to him and tendered an unreserved apology over his comments.
“On 9th March 2022, I issued a Statement unequivocally condemning the reaction of H.E. Engr. Dave Umahi, the Governor of Ebonyi State to the Judgment of the FHC Abuja which ordered him and his Deputy to vacate office. I also demanded an apology and a retraction of the comments.”
“Following that Statement, H.E. Engr. Umahi made extensive efforts to reach me and in the course of our conversation, I reiterated that the NBA has no interest in the case other than to ensure that the sanctity of the judicial system is protected & the rule of law respected.”
“In line with our demands, H.E. Engr. Umahi addressed a cross section of Ebonyi State citizens, where he unreservedly apologized for his comments, clarified his intentions and very importantly too, called for calm from his supporters while urging them to refrain from denigrating the Judiciary.”
Mr. Akpata added that Gov. Umahi’s apology would be communicated to His Lordship Justice Ekwo and reiterated that there are established procedure for challenging judgments of court and NBA would continue to defend the rule of law and independence of the judiciary and the sanctity of court orders..
“I will immediately transmit this apology to His Lordship, Hon. Justice Inyang Ekwo and My Lord the Hon. Chief Justice of Nigeria, who is the head of the Judiciary in Nigeria, and urge them to also accept same.”
“I must restate for the sake of emphasis that there is a well established procedure for challenging unfavourable decisions of courts of competent jurisdiction and the NBA under my administration will continue to fulfil its mandate by rising to the defence of the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary, and the sanctity of court orders.”
“Now that the right thing has been done and the appeal process has been activated, we shall resume our backseat and allow the process take its course. As far as the NBA is concerned, this brings an end to this unfortunate episode but we hope that important lessons have been learnt.”