On Friday, thugs belonging to a faction of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers state attacked the Rivers High Court in order to stop a judge from delivering a verdict against it. The heavily armed thugs vandalized properties and inflicted harm on citizens.
President Muhammadu Buhari is yet to speak on the attack which comes only a few weeks after thugs led by an APC senator, Ovie Omo-Agege invaded the senate chambers during plenary.
The cause of the violence
It’s an internal APC matter.
The party has two factions – one faction is loyal to former governor Rotimi Amaechi, who is now minister of transportation and the director-general of the Muhammadu Buhari presidential campaign; the other faction is loyal to Senator Magnus Abe, who wants to be the APC governorship candidate in 2019 despite Amaechi’s opposition.
The Abe faction went to court asking it to stop the local government congresses from holding in the state, so thugs belonging to the other faction unleashed the violence in order to stop Justice Chinwendu Nwogu from granting the interlocutory injunction. In spite of the attacks, Justice Nwogu granted the injunction, but the Amaechi faction still went ahead to conduct the congress.
Chief Justice is concerned
Nigeria’s chief justice, Walter Onnoghen condemned the attack and said it could portend worse things in 2019 if not checked.
In a statement by his media aide, Awassam Bassey, the chief justice said:
- He is gravely concerned that “this magnitude of violence could be visited on the judiciary during a ward/local government intra-party primary election, and wonders what the situation would be during the forthcoming general election in 2019?”
- He described the attackers as “enemies of our peace and democracy” and warned that if they get away their crimes, it would encourage them to do same to the Court of Appeal, and ultimately, the Supreme Court of Nigeria, whenever any one of them perceives that a judgment may be delivered against any of them or the interests they represent.
- “Violence, the type visited on the judiciary of Rivers State, is alien to any civilized society and therefore condemnable… attacks on the judiciary are a disaster that would end democracy in Nigeria as parties would resort to self-help in the absence of the judiciary or confidence in the judiciary as an arbiter,” Onnoghen said.