100 Days:The Judiciary Under Wike’s Watch


The first hundred days in
office of the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, is believed to have impacted positively on the state judiciary.
Governor Wike within less than one week of his swearing re-opened the state judiciary that had been shut for more than one year during administration of the former Governor of the state, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.
It is believed that the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria strike was at the instance of Amaechi, who did not want to lose grip of the state through the appointment of a chief judge, who was not favourably disposed to him.
The crisis that resulted from the appointment of the state chief judge caused a lot of misery for practicing lawyers and left in its wake hunger, death and health problems.
On the other hand, the suspects and accused persons in both police cells and prison custodies respectively suffered terribly as they could not have access to justice. Litigants who wanted to ventilate their grievances in courts could not do so hence the state of conflict in the state was worsened.
Speaking with The Tide in Port Harcourt on Thursday, Barr. Achuchu stated that the re-opening of the courts in the state had impacted greatly and had also reduced the rate of crime.
He noted that the governor had done a great job by appointing Justice Daisy Okocha as the state Chief Judge.
Barr. Achuchu pointed out that Justice Okocha remained a woman of impeccable character and noted that she had helped to reduce the volume of cases in court.
He urged judges in the state High Court to take their jobs seriously in order to reduce the glut of cases in the judiciary.
The Port Harcourt based lawyer also urged practicing lawyers to be diligent to avoid unnecessary adjournments which hinder justice delivery.
Also speaking, Barr. Austin Amadi, said the first one hundred days in office o the incumbent Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, would be remembered for the re-opening of courts and noted that any government that intended to rule well must take the judiciary seriously.
He praised Governor Wike for re-opening the courts and giving lawyers a new lease of life.
Barr. Amadi stated that any government without judiciary was incomplete and could not be adjudged to be a democracy.
On the volume of cases, he noted that the volume of cases had reduced but for the vacation embarked upon by the judiciary everything would have stabilised.
He lauded Governor Wike for his vigorous effort aimed at rejuvenating the judiciary that had been comatose.
Barr. Amadi noted that the judiciary would be better off if judges used verbatim recorder instead of using the long hands.
He, however, urged lawyers to support the Wike administration so that they would be able to benefit maximally from the dividends of democracy.
Another lawyer who spoke with our correspondent, Barr. J.J. Okiri, noted that there have been tremendous changes with the coming of Chief Nyesom Wike’s administration.
He pointed out that the judiciary had come back to its full functioning capacity as usual. “Things have been different, it is quite different from the past”, he stated.
According to him, “crime fighting since Wike assumed office has been vigorous, I should give kudos to the immediate past Commissioner of Police in the state, CP Ezike.
He said the former police boss in the state fought crime gallantly. “However, criminality in the state is quite high”.
Barr. Okiri said the state government under Wike had provided the police vehicles for crime fighting.
He explained that government was doing a lot in the area of crime fighting and expressed hope that government would do more if given the needed co-operation by all.
The Port Harcourt lawyer recalled that lawyers had suffered untold hardship during the past one year as a result of the strike embarked upon by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria, Rivers State branch over the tussle for the position of Chief Judge of the state.
According to him, ‘so many challenges; as practicing lawyers there was no money, so many of us were finding it difficult to fend for our families, especially because of  the strike. We tried praying to God for the situation to change so we could continue in our business life. So it was not easy. Thank God the situation is no longer the same”.
On the jail delivery by the state new Chief Judge, he remarked that it was the prerogative of the governor and the state Chief Judge. He explained it had become a tradition that from time to time the Chief Judge of the state visits the prison and grants bail to inmates outside the windows of the court.
Barr. J.J. Okiri advised the state government to empower the youths so that there would be less attraction to crime.
He said some youths were attracted to crime because of lack of vocation and urged government to stem the rising unemployment ratio so that the state would be better for it.
While the Port Harcourt lawyer gave kudos for re-opening the courts, he implored him to employ judges and magistrates so that there would be a faster and easy access to justice.
According to him, justice delayed is justice denied. Another Port Harcourt based lawyer who spoke with our correspondent, Barr. Jose Obinna Wondah, also gave kudos to Governor Nyesom Wike for re-opening the judiciary.
He said beside re-opening the courts, Wike’s efforts at crime fighting had brought calm in the state.
Barr. Wondah said there was relative calm in the state resulting from Governor Wike’s pragmatic approach towards security.
“It is interesting that things have returned to normalcy in the state. The judiciary is working well so far so good. We are happy with Wike’s achievements within one hundred days in office.
The Port Harcourt lawyer expressed happiness that things were beginning to work in the state after an evil spell.
Also speaking, Barr. Jackson Assor, said Governor Nyesom Wike had performed creditably judging from the angle of the judiciary.
“You know, Wike is a lawyer so was pained by the sufferings the lawyers went through in the course of the more than one year strike of the judiciary staff union of Nigeria. The first thing he did after the swearing in was to appoint the chief judge and re-open the courts. As we can see lawyers are back to business. At least they can earn their living”, he stated.
“He also appointed a chief registrar and the work of justice delivery is going smoothly”, the lawyer stated.
Barr. Assor explained that the strike caused a glut of cases in the Rivers State judiciary that hitherto had been unheard but noted the cases were being heard with the re-opening of courts.
He stated that the governor had touched his life by re-opening the courts.
The Port Harcourt lawyer recommended the appointment of more judicial officers and the specialisation of courts as done in Lagos as a way forward for the reduction of the cases in court.
He pointed out that the judiciaries of Lagos and Abuja were ahead of others in Nigeria and urged Rivers judiciary to keep pace instead of embarking worthless strike.

Chidi Enyie, Chianugo Ikejemba/Gloria George

Rivers State Chief Judge, Justice Daisy Okocha
Rivers State Chief Judge, Justice Daisy Okocha