The Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, has said he does not take the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Yakubu Maikyau; and human rights lawyer, Femi Falana seriously.
Bellnewsonline.com reports that the governor stated this on Tuesday while reacting to their calls for the release of All Progressives Congress (APC) lawyers arrested in the state.
Recall that the three APC lawyers who were arrested on Saturday, April 1 at a hotel in Port Harcourt, were said to have been working on a petition for Rivers APC in the March 18 governorship election.
In separate statements, Maikyau and Falana condemned the arrest of the lawyers, and urged the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Usman Baba, to order their release.
However, the Rivers State Police Command explained that the lawyers were arrested on suspicion of forgery, but were released hours after their arrest.
In a live media chat on Tuesday, Wike said he was surprised to see the NBA president demanding for the release of the lawyers, adding that he does not take Falana seriously again.
The governor said both senior lawyers should have asked the police to investigate the lawyers instead of calling for their immediate release.
Wike argued that nobody must interfere in a police investigation, stressing that the security agency should have acted on the intelligence that something suspicious is going on.
He said: “There is nothing wrong if you have intelligence that people are producing INEC documents in a hotel and in the police arresting them.
“What we expected is for the police to investigate: Were they really printing INEC documents or not? And not for people to say, ‘They went and arrested lawyers that were preparing for election petitions.’
“Does it mean because you say lawyers perpetrated it, therefore they cannot be arrested? Of course, I don’t take Femi Falana seriously. NBA president issued a statement that the lawyers must be released. It was so surprising.
“Why not say, ‘Police, if you say you arrested lawyers believing that you have intelligence on this, we’re giving you within 24 hours to make sure they are charged to court or you come out with a report’?
“You can’t use us to be popular among lawyers because the NBA president knows that his own administration is not doing well.
“And so, the only way they can show that they’re doing well is by coming out to say, ‘Release the lawyers.’”