A Bayelsa State High Court Judge, Justice Ebiyerin Umokoro, has challenged the pro-democracy and Civil Society groups to invoke good governance from the political class by filing cases that will ensure the legal protection of public interests, human rights and social justice for the people.
Justice Umokoro said though the judiciary is needed as partners for the protection of rights and privileges of Nigerians as provided in the constitution, such protective shield and check of abuse of power from the ruling class can only be provided if groups can explore and exploit public interest litigations in its pursuit of social justice.
Justice Ebiyerin Umokoro, who made this known in Yenagoa during the presentation of a paper titled “Judicial Activism: How the judiciary can help enthrone Good Governance” as part of the 2019 Annual Feast of Barracuda organised by the National Association of Seadogs (pyrate Confraternity), Oxbow Marino Deck, said though Judges have emboldened themselves through needed judicial activism to protect the people, the civil society groups and other right groups must be bold and provoke cases that determine the fate of the people.
Justice Umokoro, who, however, commended the role of the judiciary during the dark days of the Military up untill the present nascent democracy, said the judiciary, despite the few cases of alleged indiscretion among some judges, have done well and bold enough to engage in judicial activism.
According to him, “there was once a time, when courts could shy away from handling cases against the government and its agencies by taking cover under restrictive definitions of locus standi that would require special interest of the claimant or plaintiff in the subject of litigation which was over and above that of the ordinary man in the street before complaint against government or authorities would be considered on the merits.”
He called on the National Association of Sea Dogs to participate by provoking public interest litigation and assist in provoking the spirit of judicial activism in the judiciary.
Ealier in his speech, the “Capo” of the NAS, Ox-Bow Marino Deck, Dr. Anthony Geoffery, said the annual feast of Baracuda provide an opportunity for the National Association of SeaDogs(NAS) to interact with larger society and brainstorm on nagging issues that may militate against a just and egalitarina society.
Dr. Geoffery said though the feast of baraccuda is inspired by the long tradition of the pirates of old, whereby once in a year, they come ashore with bounties from their buccannering sea voyage and share with the populace.
“The Barracuda fish”, which was shared with those in attendance,” is our own bounty that we share with the populace and today we brain storm on issues of judicial activism that can help enthrown a just and egalitarian society ”
“Our primary goal is to identify the contraint militating against the attainment of a just society and putting in place the modality to combat them.”