By Anayo Onukwugha |
Rivers State governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, has urged the Judiciary to assert itself in order for Nigeria to make progress.
The governor described as worrisome a situation whereby judges feel so intimidated to discharge their constitutional duties.
The governor made these known in Port Harcourt, shortly after the swearing-in of two new High Court judges and a permanent secretary.
The two newly sworn-in judges are Justice Ben-Whyte Opufaa and Justice Gbasam Okogbule, while the new permanent secretary is Sir Dagogo Abere, the immediate-past accountant-general of the state.
Wike during the swearing-in noted that due to fear, some judges now instigate petition against themselves in an attempt to avoid handling some perceived sensitive matters.
The governor, however, urged judges to be firm and bear in mind the oath of office which they swore to.
He further advised judges to resist any attempt to foist the culture of using the cost of transportation by lawyers and parties in court as a basis for transfer of a matter from one state to another.
The governor said: “This country cannot move forward if the judiciary does not come out to say we must be firm to do our work.”
On the issue of independence of the judiciary, Wike observed that this has been narrowed to the ability of the judiciary to control its capital fund and overhead.
He noted that the judiciary may have all the money in the world and still not be independent.
The governor insisted that what should be of importance to judicial officers is whether they are given the necessary liberty to discharge there constitutional duties in accordance with the law.
Wike advised the two newly sworn-in judges to use their energy to advance the course of justice and refused to be intimidated.
He said: “Whatever you believe that is right do it. It doesn’t matter who is involved. Don’t be intimidated by the federal government.”
The governor directed the state’s attorney general and commissioner of justice, Prof. Zaccheus Adangor (SAN), to expeditiously issue the two judges the Certificate of Occupancy of their official residence.
He said: “It will be proper for us to know how many more judges they will appoint by next year so we will be able to build houses for them now and keep it ready.”