Nigerian lawyers have said the demolition of two hotels by Nyesom Wike, governor of Rivers State, was an act of executive lawlessness and an exhibition of psychopathic tendencies.
Wike had earlier on Sunday demolished Prodest Hotel, Alode in Eleme, and Etemeteh Hotel in Onne for allegedly violating the executive order he put in place to stop the spread of Coronavirus.
Rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, who spoke with SaharaReporters, said the demolition was illegal going by the provisions of the constitution.
He said, “It is totally unconscionable and the very foundation of what he has done is flawed. There is no governor in Nigeria that can use executive order to perform a judicial function.
“Even if there was an executive order that states in black and white expressly that any hotel or hotel owner whose facility shall be demolished, it will be unconstitutional because whether the person has actually committed an infraction can only be determined by a court of law. So, even if the governor actually goes to the hotel and find a guest lodging, it is not in his place to determine if that amounts to an offence, the owner of the hotel has to be subjected to the judicial process.
“So, for a governor in Nigeria to claim that he has the authority to demolish the probate property of citizens without recourse to the court is illegal.
“The right to own immovable property is guaranteed under the constitution, the right to acquire and own property, it cannot be derrogated from.
“Beyond the legality of the action, what the governor has done is reprehensible and is the action of a reprobate mind, it is psychopathic. How do you demolish a building because it flours an order? That building creates employment.”
Effiong also revealed that the punishment for violating an executive order is N200 or six months in a correctional center and wondered why the provisions of the law was not adhered to in the matter.
He added, “The punishment for violating any executive order according to the constitution made pursuant to the Quarantine Act is six months imprisonment or a fine of N200, the law is very clear.”
PHOTONEWS: Few Days After Demolishing Hotels For Violating COVID-19 Lockdown Order, @GovWike Attends Rivers State PDP Inauguration Where Social Distancing Guideline Was Violated pic.twitter.com/GRz9WrGphb
— Sahara Reporters (@SaharaReporters) May 14, 2020
Public interest lawyer, Jiti Ogunye, on Friday told SaharaReporters that the accused in the matter were never charged to court or given the opportunity for defence as stipulated by the constitution, rendering Governor Wike’s action illegal.
He said, “What was done is arbitrary and amounts to executive lawlessness. The law is clear, Section 36 of the constitution guarantees the right to fair hearing and it also provides that no one can be punished except in accordance to a written law that must have been violated and the alleged offender would be afforded the opportunity to defend himself before a court of law or tribunal.
“This guarantees impartiality and fairness. The executive branch of government cannot be the accuser, the investigator of the alleged offence, the prosecutor, the judge, and the punishment executioner all rolled into one.
“And we are not even talking about the executive inelegance of personally supervising the demolition of a property that was operated allegedly in violation of the COVID-19 regulation according to the governor of Rivers State.
“What made the property fit for demolition? Is it that the land on which the property is built does not belong to the owner or that the property built was in violation of environmental laws? Why would a physical structure be targeted for demolition if the human beings who allegedly violated the regulation are available to be punished in accordance with the law?”