Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana has condemned Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers state over the demolition of two hotels in the state for flouting lockdown order.
The governor on Sunday supervised the demolition of Prodest Hotel, Eleme, and Etemeteh Hotel, Onne for violating a lockdown order put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
But in a statement made available to POLITICS NIGERIA on Sunday night, Falana described Wike, who is also a lawyer, as an embarrassment to the Body of Benchers.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria also called on the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, to sanction the governor for acting ‘like an Emperor’.
Falana noted that the Executive Order relied upon by governor Wike is an administrative instrument with guidelines and not a Law, adding that the Constitution supersedes the Governor’s order.
The lawyer added that any offender regardless of the crime committed should be charged before a Court and tried in line with the Law.
The statement read: “It is unfortunate that these events are happening in Port Harcourt where the Governor of the State is Senior Lawyer and not just a lawyer, I’m even informed that he’s a member of the Body of Benchers; that is an embarrassment. A colossal embarrassment to the Nigerian Bar Association.
“Under our law, an emergency situation under the Quarantine Act does not permit the demolition of a house by an alleged offender. Whoever has breached the Law will have to be tried and convicted by a Court of Law before a sentence can be pronounced.
“There is no provision for even the President to take the Law into his hands and then begin to mete out punishments to citizens without recourse to the constitution.
“We hope that the Governor will be properly advised to reverse his decisions, publicly apologise and restore the properties of those that have been destroyed. Everyone will have to go through a judicial process. That is what the rule of Law is all about.
“The guidelines and regulations in the Executive Order are subject to the Constitution. So, if there is a conflict in the guidelines, the directives of the Governor, and the Constitution, his directives will bow to the Constitution.
“The right to property, fair hearing, and liberty are constitutional rights. No Governor has the power to dismiss these rights under the pretext of enforcing the COVID-19 regulations.
“I expect the victims of his actions to take legal actions because I have seen the Executive Order of the Governor, there is no provision for demolishing properties. Only a court of Law can do that and that is after being found guilty. What is done in civilised places is for the Governor to obtain an order of interim forfeiture and then go through a trial?
“No Constitution allows a Governor to become the maker of a Law, accuser, witness, enforcer of the Law, the prosecutor and the Judge at the same time. It is primitive.”