Rivers State Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike has reiterated the desire of his administration to use the judiciary in accelerating the development of the state.
Speaking at the special court session to usher-in the 2015/2016 legal year yesterday at the Chief Judge’s Ceremonial Court Hall in Port Harcourt, Wike stressed that the judiciary must be part of the drive to move the state forward through fair and just delivery of justice.
While promising more funding to the judicial arm of government the governor noted that, “we will abide by the rule of law, equity and separation of powers.”
Governor Wike frowned at the shortcomings in the criminal justice system, while revealing that his administration has already sent a bill to the State House of Assembly to revamp the criminal justice delivery system.
He therefore approved the appointments of four new High Court Judges, and two Customary Court of Appeal Judges.
The Chief Executive while challenging the judiciary for excellence and transparency in the delivery of justice, Governor Wike called on them to weed out all activities contrary to the ethics of the law profession.
So far, Wike said his administration has fulfilled some of his earlier promises in revamping the courts following the opening of courts, appointment of acting chief judge and release of funds for the renovation and maintenance of facilities in the courts.
Earlier, Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General of the State, Mr Emma Aguma, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria(SAN) has disclosed plans by the State Government to adopt the multi-court system for quick delivery of justice.
The State Attorney-General observed that justice delivery was key to attract investors and create enabling environment for investment to thrive in the state.
According to him, Wike has fulfilled three cardinal promises he made to the judiciary on assumption of office by appointing an Acting Chief Judge for both the State High Court and Customary Court of Appeal and granting independence to the courts.
While disclosing that administration has improved the process of land title and acquisition Aguma noted that since assuming office he has signed 73 consents as he warned that only lawyers are entitled to prepare deeds of conveyance in the state.
Aguma also said that the administration was geared at facilitating the implementation of the Child Rights Acts to protect the rights of vulnerable children in society.
Speaking also for the Nigeria Bar Association, Chairman of the Port Harcourt Branch of the NBA, Dennis Okwakpam decried the poor leadership in the body and called for new attitude and zeal from members.
Okwakpam also called for better enumeration of judges and judiciary staff as a way to boost morale for the adjudication of justice in the state.
He however decried the activities of fake lawyers saying, “we are experiencing more impostors and the need to evolve mechanisms to check fake lawyers.’
Onueze Okocha former President of the NBA spoke for Senior Advocates of Nigeria and lauded Governor Wike for restoring the courts after it was shut for over a year.
Okocha lamented that the politicization of the judiciary by the past administration has damaged the integrity of the courts, but however made a clarion call for both the bar and the bench to adhere to the rules and regulations of the law profession in order to attract public confidence in the judiciary.
“Now we have regrouped, we have a lot of work to do and all hands must be on deck” Okocha further remarked
On her part, Acting Chief Judge of the State Justice, Hon. Daisy Okocha has decried the congestion in the courts.
She reasoned that the crisis that rocked the judiciary had contributed hugely to the slow delivery of justice.
Justice Okocha while blaming the attitude of some lawyers and litigants in delaying matters in the courts, implored legal practitioners to help judges in the speedy trial and disposal of cases.
Despite the setbacks, she praised the courage and the zeal of the judges since resuming in June in dispensing matters before them.
Since her assumption of office she stated that efforts have been made to revamp the judiciary with renovation works at the various courts, staff welfare, renumbering and relocation of High Courts among others.
At the church service to mark the legal year held at St Paul’s Cathedral Anglican Church, Diobu, Archbishop Ignatius Kattey charged lawyers to always do what is right.
The Archbishop of Niger Delta Province described the court as the last hope of the common man as he prayed God to give judges and lawyers to deliver justice without fear or favour to the people.