The Civil Society Organisations have expressed its displeasure over the recent demolition of two hotels by Governor Nyesom Wike for allegedly violating the lockdown order of the Rivers State Government.
The CSOs in a statement on Wednesday described Wike’s action as “an act of impunity, assault on rule of law and setback to civilisation”.
The CSOs include notable civil rights movements like Civil Society Network Against Corruption, Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre, Democracy and Human Rights Network, and Democracy and Human Rights Network among others.
Part of the statement read, “As lovers of democracy and believers in the rule of law, we are seriously concerned that Wike, who is a lawyer, could engage in such series of activities that blatantly subvert the due process, undermine the rule of law and negate the norms of civilised and democratic practices.
“Wike has been engaging in one act of illegality after another in recent time ranging from the arbitrary arrest of Caverton pilots and oil workers to the closure of state boundaries, to the signing of an executive order authorising the auction of all vehicles alleged to have violated his lockdown order and now, his most recent reckless act of illegal demolition of two hotels in Rivers State on Saturday, which he personally supervised.
“We acknowledge that citizens must comply with orders meant to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and protect citizens and residents of Rivers State. We also condemn the violation of such orders by any citizen whatsoever. But we equally assert that two wrongs cannot make a right.
“A democratically elected governor should rise above arbitrariness and lawlessness. The Constitution guarantees citizens the right to own property and this right cannot be circumscribed without following the due process of law. The Rivers State Governor has no legal right in law to confiscate or demolish the property of citizens by executive fiat.
“Wike should not be allowed to continue to violate the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We call on citizens of Rivers State to resist Wike’s dictatorship. They should challenge him through civic and legal means.”
The CSOs also called on the Peoples Democratic Party to speak up and condemn the governor’s excesses.
“No law permits the Governor or the President to mete out any punishment to any citizen without recourse to the constitution. You cannot go outside the law to enforce the law
”The Executive Order relied upon by Governor Wike is an administrative instrument with guidelines and not a law. The Constitution supersedes the governor’s order. 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
“Any offender regardless of the crime committed should be charged before a court and tried in line with the law,” the groups said.
The groups further noted that the constitution guarantees every citizen fair hearing.
They added, “We call on Wike to reverse his lawless and despicable actions, publicly apologise and restore the properties of those that have been destroyed.
“If Wike fails to reverse himself, we encourage the victims of his actions to take legal actions because the Executive Order of the Governor contains no provision permitting the demolition of properties.”