From TONY JOHN, Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has charged the judiciary to crave for independence to discharge their functions without intimidation and not just to control budgets.
Wike said this was imperative because no government and country could make meaningful progress, if the judiciary is not allowed to carry out their functions independently.
He stated this at the official presentation of 29 brand new Renault Koleos 2020 SUVS to chairmen of the Customary Courts of the Rivers State judiciary at the judiciary complex in Port Harcourt yesterday.
The maintained that no one can talk about democracy without the rule of law, stressing that judiciary is pivotal in any given society where the rule of law reigns.
“If Nigeria wants to move forward, if this country wants development, then, we must allow the judiciary to operate independently and do their work”, he stated.
Wike described as unfortunate the unwillingness of the judiciary in Nigeria to seek for true independence to discharge their functions without harassment and intimidation.
He explained that the independence those in judiciary are desirous of seems limited to how they can control their budget and finances.
“They have always said they want to be independent; but, truly speaking, you don’t want to be independent. I have never seen an arm of government that is so afraid, intimidated by other arms of government like the judiciary. I have never seen that in my life.
“The independent of the judiciary you are looking for is only for budget. But, you are not talking about independence of how you can carry out your job without any influence or intimidation. Independent is more when you are able to carry out your job without anybody influencing you”, Wike explained.
The governor disclosed that he has told the Attorney General of the state that there is an urgent need to amend the law to expand the jurisdiction of the Customary Court of Appeal because chieftaincy matters were still being filed at the State High Court.
“So, we are going to expand their jurisdiction to allow them to take on chieftaincy matters in all the local government”, Wike said.
The governor further said the vehicles donated were given to the Customary Court chairmen to enable them discharge their functions unhindered.
Speaking, the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Professor Zaccheus Adangor, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), commended the governor for his unwavering support for the judiciary.
He advised the beneficiaries to continue to administer justice expeditiously and more effectively.
President of Customary Court of Appeal, Rivers State, Justice C.I. Gabriel-Nwankwo, said the provision of the official vehicles would inspire and motivate the beneficiaries to perform their work.
On her part, the Chief Judge of Rivers State, Justice Adama Iyayi-Lamikanra, said Governor Wike’s commitment to enhance the welfare of judicial officers in the country remains unparalleled.
She further said the provision of the additional 29 brand new cars to the chairmen of the State Customary Court has disproved the misconception that the Customary Court was neglected.
Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association Port Harcourt branch (NBA), Prince Nyekwere, said Governor Wike has put the state judiciary in an enviable position since he assumed office in 2015.