National President of Revolutionary Lawyers’ Forum, Tope Akinyode, has condemned Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, for demolishing two hotels in the state.
On Sunday, Prodest Hotel, Eleme, and Etemeteh Hotel, Onne, were pulled down on the orders of Wike.
The governor, who supervised the demolition, said the action was taken because the operators of the hotels flouted the lockdown directive put in place to curb the spread of Coronavirus.
In a statement, Akinyode described the action as unconstitutional, despotic and a gross abuse of power.
He said, “Governor Nyesom Wike is not permitted by any law to arrogate the powers of the court to himself.
“Furthermore, the governor is not empowered to amend the provisions of the Nigerian constitution.
“The Rivers State Government under the supervision of Governor Wike acted pursuant to an Executive Order to destroy the properties today.
“However, it admits of no controversy that the power to determine the guilt of an offence and to issue penalty accordingly lies only within the courts. This is the whole essence of Chapter 7 of the Nigerian constitution which provides for the judicature.
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“It is therefore unfortunate that Governor Nyesom Wike proceeded on this exercise of illegality without caution.
“Section 5 of the Quarantine Act states: Any person contravening any of the regulations made under this Act shall be liable to a fine of N200 or to imprisonment for a term of six months or to both.
“In ONAH v. FRN (2017) LPELR-43535(CA), the court established that: While the sentence of the court must be in accordance with that prescribed by the statute creating the offence, a court cannot impose a higher punishment than that prescribed for the offence
“This has been the position of the law in other cases such as; AGBITI v. THE NIGERIAN NAVY (2007) LPELR – 4893 (CA). In ALI v. FRN (2016) LPELR – 40472 (CA).
“It must also be emphasised that the Executive Order of Governor Nyesom Wike is nothing but a mere subsidiary legislation. Even though a subsidiary legislation has the force of law, it cannot override the provisions of its enabling law. The enabling law to Governor Nyesom Wike’s Executive Order is the Quarantine Act, the Executive Order can therefore not impose a penalty outside of and higher than what the Quarantine Act prescribes.
“It is wickedness to deprive people of their means of livelihood, launch an attack on their fundamental human rights and cause them eternal agony by hiding under the cover of curtailing the spread of disease.
“Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State must stop this illegality and award adequate compensation to all those whose properties have been confiscated and destroyed.”