Chukwudi Akasike, Port Harcourt
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has accused the Federal Government of double standard in its fight against corruption.
Wike observed that the Federal Government had forced some public officers accused of corruption to step aside pending the conclusion of their cases while other public officers similarly accused of corruption were allowed to continue with their jobs.
Wike made the allegations as members of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators expressed the need for Nigerians to embrace alternative means of conflict resolution, describing it as Africa’s traditional ways of settling disputes.
The governor spoke on Thursday while delivering a keynote address at the 2016 annual conference of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, Nigeria branch, in Port Harcourt.
He also warned of an impending anarchy in the country if security agencies were encouraged to abuse the rights of Nigerians under the guise of fighting corruption.
Expressing his support for President Muhammadu Buhari’s fight against graft, the governor said the state of the country was worrisome, especially as it concerned the lack of respect for the rule of law and political interference in Rivers State.
“We think the Federal Government must hold every public officer and everyone of us to the same standards of accountability.
“It smacks of double standard for the Federal Government to force some public officers accused of corruption to step aside pending the conclusion of their cases, while keeping other public officers similarly accused in their public posts simply because they happen to be top members of the ruling party. Such inequities strike at the very essence of our moral values and rubbish the demand for character and personal integrity in public service.
“By resigning from his public position on account of the allegations of bribery against him, Muiz Banire (SAN), a former legal adviser of the All Progressives Congress, has proven to be a man who loves his character more than anything else,” he said.
He added, “Let all those public officers with the smear of corruption step aside honourably and concentrate on clearing their names. We totally support our President’s fight against corruption. However, we are on our way to anarchy if we encourage or allow law enforcement agencies the latitude to abuse the fundamental rights of our citizens under the guise of fighting corruption.”
He thanked the institute for holding their annual convention in the state, adding that the continued gathering of the country’s professionals in the state was an indication that Rivers, contrary to the views of the opposition, remained safe.
In her remarks, the Chairman of CIArb, Mrs. Adedoyin Rhodes-Vivour, stated that apart from the resolution of disputes, the institute was also focusing on education, qualifications and training of arbitrators.
Rhodes-Vivour expressed the need for Nigerians to embrace alternative dispute resolution and avoid the challenges of delays and high costs associated with courts.
“Our message first of all is let’s decongest the courts. Let us stop overburdening our courts. Let us have alternative means and use alternative means to resolve our disputes. As you well know, the court system is not our traditional means of resolving disputes in Africa; it is arbitration and it is recognised even in our legal system.
“It is less expensive and it preserves relationships; it saves you money and saves your business. Let us go back to that because that is our first message. Again, let’s make sure that we are well trained to excellent standards. The institute’s qualifications are generally recognised as the gold standard education in alternative dispute resolution,” she said.