Lawyers, activists condemn Bayelsa governor, Dickson’s Court raid

Seriake Dickson

Lawyers and civil rights activists have called for the impeachment and prosecution of the Bayelsa State governor, Seriake Dickson, over his role in a mob attack on a federal high court in the state two weeks ago.
The groups described the governor’s act as “criminal” and an abuse of the rule of law.

The calls came after PREMIUM TIMES published a video showing Mr. Dickson leading thugs to the court house in Yenagoa, the Baylesa State capital.

The recording showed the governor walking into the court premises, accompanied by his police guards and hangers on, before hooligans, including rifle-wielding police officers, attacked the court.

The governor’s spokesman, Daniel Iworiso, denied the video recording, saying its contents were doctored.
The Nigerian Bar Association said last week it was investigating the case and had asked the governor, who is a lawyer, to explain his side of the story.

Augustine Alegeh, the president of NBA, said any attack on the court is “unacceptable”.

“Courts are sacred places and anyone who desecrate the court attacks the court, not just the court but the whole essence of rule of law and the whole judicial system,” he said.

The Executive Director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, Awal Musa, described the incident as the highest level of impunity, stating that it was an example of an irresponsible leadership.

“It is all part of the lack of values that we have in the governors. When we put people who do not have regards for rule of law, this is what you see. It is rather a big problem to have people who do not deserve to be leaders,” he said.

He said it’s rather unfortunate that the governor cannot be prosecuted immediately because of the constitutional immunity, but called on the state of assembly members to take measures to impeach the governor.

Also speaking, a legal practitioner, Jiti Ogunye, said if an iota of respect still lingers in the midst of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, impeachment proceedings would have taken effect from the day the video went viral, stating that it is a criminal offense.

He said Mr. Dickson has undermined the judiciary and has also subverted the institution.

“It is clear that governor has improved on his recent conduct where he presided over militants in the Bayelsa state government house and encouraged militants to declare war on Nigerian should Goodluck not win elections,” he said.

Mr. Ogunye said the governor has not come out to deny that he did not lead the thugs to the court or to deny the video.

“We hope when he is impeached he should be brought to that same court to be dealt with in accordance to the law,” he said.

The attack on the court followed a case between a serving senator, Heineken Lokpobiri, against the governor’s preferred senatorial candidate, Foster Ogola, over the validity of Mr. Ogola’s candidacy for the Bayelsa West senatorial district.

Mr. Lokpobri told PREMIUM TIMES that he expects the law to take its course since nobody is above the law.

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