Governor Chief Nyesom Wike

Wike visits CJN twice in one month


Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has paid two visits to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, at the Supreme Court, Abuja, this month, officials have said.

One of the visits to the CJN, it was learnt, coincided with the day the Rivers State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, sitting in Abuja, conducted hearing in an application filed by Wike to challenge an order permitting his opponent to inspect the electoral materials used for the poll that brought him to office.

Investigations by our correspondent in Abuja showed that the visits were made without prior appointments.

The election of the former education minister, who ran for the governorship on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, is being challenged by the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Dr. Dakuku Peterside.

The Rivers State Governorship Elections Petition Tribunal had on July 9 reaffirmed its ex parte order made on June 11, 2015, granting permission to Peterside, to inspect the electoral materials used for the poll.

Peterside and the APC had on May 3, 2015, filed their petition before the tribunal to challenge the victory of Wike at the poll.

The Justice Muazu Pindiga-led tribunal had in a ruling dismissed Wike’s application asking for the setting aside of the June 11, 2015 order.

The judge also adjourned till July 22 for the commencement of the pre-hearing session in the petition.

Wike has however denied that his visit to the CJN had anything to do with his case.

Our correspondent learnt that Wike did not meet the CJN on his first visit, which was a Monday. The number one judicial officer in the country was said to have travelled to Saudi Arabia for the Lesser Hajj.

Wike however repeated the visit two days later, when he was able to discuss with the CJN.

A source in the governor’s entourage, disclosed to our correspondent that the members of staff in the office of Mohammed were shocked to see the governor.

The source said, “There was no proper appointment because as soon as the governor stepped in and said he would like to see the CJN and was asked if it was on appointment, he answered in the negative.

“Nevertheless, he was allowed to see the CJN; but unfortunately, the CJN was not in the country as he was in Saudi Arabia for the Lesser Hajj.”

The Publicity Secretary of APC in Rivers State, Chief Chris Finebone, said the visit was curious.

Finebone said though his party believed that the person of the CJN was beyond compromise, he nevertheless wondered why Wike refused to carry the media along during the visits.

He said, “We have no cause to doubt the integrity of the CJN, but we must say that the visits must have been made open and known to Nigerians. Why was it not made known?

“Wike believes that every human being has a price. His problem is just to identify the price. His case is pending and he refused to go with the media during the visits.

“We want to believe that the visits didn’t happen and if it happened, he must tell Nigerians why he chose to embark on the visit without the media.”

He called on Nigerians and the people of Rivers to monitor the activities of the governor.

Reacting to the visit, the national leadership of the PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh, said there was nothing wrong with the visits.

Metuh said that the governor had the right to pay official visit to the CJN, adding that he (Wike) should not be vilified because of that.

“Yes, he has the right to pay official visit or courtesy calls on the CJN and I see nothing wrong with that,” he said.

Wike, while denying going to lobby the CJN for his pending tribunal case, told our correspondent that he was at the office because of the issue surrounding the appointment of the acting Chief Justice of Rivers State.

He said since the acting Chief Judge of his state was appointed about three months ago, there was the need to seek the permission of the National Judicial Council to approve and renew the appointment.

Wike said, “I didn’t go there to lobby for anything cynical. If I was going to lobby for anything like that, would I go in the afternoon?

“You may wish to know that we have an acting Chief Judge in my state, and the judiciary is already on vacation and that the NJC may also be on vacation.

“So, I needed to do a letter to the NJC on the need to extend or approve the appointment of the acting CJ in my state. I went there on the two days in daytime; and see Nigerians, they are already imputing another meaning to the visits.”

Copyright PUNCH.



Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks towards President Barack Obama as he speaks to reporters in the Oval Office of the White House

Why I No Longer Support Israel

My family shed “tears of joy” on May 14, 1948, when the Jewish State of Israel was established as a safe haven for Jews. I was five at the time and didn’t quite understand its significance, but I had been taught that an integral part of Judaism was anti anti-Semitism. A number of Jewish displaced persons (DPs) lived in my neighborhood, some of whom had been in concentration camps. I also had relatives who had died in the Holocaust, and my parents warned me to never trust the Goyim (Gentiles).

When I grew up and evolved from Orthodox to secular Jew, I still felt a non-religious affinity to my Jewish “homeland.” I had no desire to make Israel my home, but I viewed it as a prophylactic against future Holocausts. I later learned that the establishment of Israel was not a day of unadulterated joy for everyone — because Jews settled in a country inhabited by other people and forced many of them to leave. In other words, Israel created Palestinian DPs. Nevertheless, I continued to support Israel, focusing mostly on the anti-Semitism of countries in the Middle East that denied Israel’s right to exist. However, I had a more nuanced view that required balancing security for Israelis with human rights for Palestinians.

I also began to think that the Right of Return had outlived its usefulness. I’m fine with Israel taking in Jews who live in danger elsewhere, but not for giving immediate citizenship to Jews like me solely because my mother happened to be Jewish. Aren’t displaced Palestinians more deserving of the right to return than I am? Most Diaspora Jews (Jews living outside of Israel) disagree with me and support the Jewish right of return, even though you can’t literally “return” to a place you’ve never been.

Much has been written about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s opposition to President Obama’s diplomatic initiatives with Iran and whether House Speaker John Boehner should have invited Netanyahu to speak to Congress without consulting the president. However, I want to focus on Netanyahu’s Zionist notion that all Jews living outside of Israel are in exile and should become Israeli citizens. In a recent piece, I described my view that patriotism involves pointing out your country’s faults and working to make it better. As a patriotic American, I resent Netanyahu telling me that I’m living in exile. I live in Charleston, South Carolina, home of the oldest synagogue in continuous use in the United States. I prefer the words of its rabbi at a dedication ceremony in 1841: “This country is our Palestine, this city our Jerusalem….”

After the recent terrorist attack in Paris, Netanyahu called for all European Jews to flee Europe and become Israeli citizens. And where would he house them — in even more bulldozed Palestinian farms and homes? How about encouraging Jews to make their own countries better, rather than run away? Netanyahu seems eager to hand Adolph Hitler a posthumous victory: a Jew-free Europe.

My only reason to accept Israeli citizenship would be if I could improve the country by eliminating some of its terrible, internal policies. For instance, Israeli law forces secular and non-Orthodox Jews to comply with the religious monopoly of the Orthodox in matters of conversion, marriage, and other intrusions on behavior. I married Sharon in South Carolina with no religious test required, but Jews in Israel may only have an Orthodox wedding regardless of their religious beliefs. Were I an Orthodox Jew in Israel, Sharon and I would still have had to travel to another country to marry because she is not Jewish.

When it comes to women’s rights, parts of Israel are like Muslim countries, requiring modest dress so men won’t become aroused, making women pray separately so men can’t see them, and restricting where women can sit on certain public busses. I think Israel is better than most (maybe all) other countries in the Middle East, but I don’t want to grade on a curve.

Were it not for the Holocaust, I don’t think there would be a Jewish state of Israel to provide a safe haven for Jews. Hitler did not distinguish between religious and secular Jews, and neither should Israel in official state policy.

Israel’s Declaration of Independence in 1948 called for a Jewish state that “ensures complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants, irrespective of religion, race, or sex.” However, the Israeli cabinet recently approved a bill that would define Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, reserving national rights only for Jews. While not yet law, this anti-democratic bill would officially relegate the 20 percent of non-Jews living in Israel to second-class status. Such a law would be an Orwellian modification of their Declaration of Independence saying, in effect, “All citizens are equal, but some citizens are more equal than others.”

Israel is facing the same kind of struggle that many other countries have encountered — between democracy and theocracy. Unfortunately, Israel has recently been headed in the wrong direction. I will again become a supporter of Israel when it lives up to the ideals in its Declaration of Independence by putting human rights and social justice above sectarian concern and treating its minorities as truly equal citizens.

Herb Silverman ..Founder and president emeritus of the Secular Coalition for America




President Goodluck Jonathan will on Friday embark on what the Presidency called a brief pilgrimage to Israel.

According to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, the President, who will depart the country from Lagos, is expected back in Abuja on Monday.

Abati said during his stay in Israel, Jonathan would join other Nigerian pilgrims in a prayer session for the progress of the country.

He said before leaving Lagos for Israel, Jonathan would participate in the ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of the Seme-Krake Joint Border Control Post on Friday morning.

The statement read, “President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan will depart Lagos Friday to undertake a brief pilgrimage to Israel.

“The President, who will be accompanied by the Chaplain of the Presidential Villa, Venerable Obioma Onwuzurumba, and his principal aides will, in addition to visiting Christian Holy sites, join other Nigerian pilgrims in a prayer session for the well-being and progress of the country at an Inter-Denominational Service in Jerusalem on Sunday.

“He is expected back in Abuja on Monday.

“Before leaving for Israel, President Jonathan will participate in the ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of the Seme-Krake Joint Border Control Post on Friday morning.

“The President will be joined at the event by President Boni Yayi of Benin Republic and officials of the Economic Community of West African States.

“The Seme-Krake Joint Border Control Post is being constructed under the ECOWAS Transport Facilitation Programme, which has the objective of boosting trade and economic relations among member countries.”

Copyright PUNCH.