Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has recommended to the National Judicial Council (NJC) not to appoint lawyers as judges who lack the capacity to be bold and courageous in the discharge of their judicial functions.
Also, Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has inaugurated the state’s Multi-door Courthouse that would offer alternative resolution to litigations bothering on trade deals and social relationships.
According to Wike, such lily-livered judges have moulded the Judiciary into an institution that is unable to live up to its responsibility of dispensing justice according to law.
Wike gave the recommendation at the swearing in of Justice Ihenacho Wilfred Obuzor as the acting president of the Rivers State Customary Court of Appeal at the Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday.
The governor maintained that a judge who was bothered about who would be offended by his ruling or avoid to be accused should not have been appointed in the first place because justice cannot be advanced in such manner.
“It is unfortunate that the Judiciary is not living up to expectation. I should not be one of those who should be criticising it. But I am saying what is the reality.
“Any judge that does not have the mind and courage is not supposed to be a judge. So, NJC should consider, look at people, look at the judges, and ask: can they be courageous to do what is right?
“It should not be just that this person is intelligent. A judge should be firm and give judgment the way the law says it should be.”
The governor assured that the Rivers State Government would not allow any courageous and bold judge in the state who was discharging his or her duties within the confines of the law to be blackmailed.
He said it was important for judges to dispense justice according to their conscience and the law, and be comfortable that they upheld the law.
According to him, one of the reasons the state was providing judges of Rivers extraction houses was to safeguard them from corruption.
“People must do things according to law. But if you go outside the law and you’re punished, count me out. But if you’re within the law and anybody thinks that because he has people to punish you, Rivers State Government will not agree to it.”
Wike also stated that all capital entitlements captured in the 2021 budget of the state that were due to the Judiciary have been released to it.
The governor advised against divisions among judicial officers because it would weaken the strength of the Judiciary.
He urged the new president of the Rivers State Customary Court of Appeal to leverage on the successes of his predecessor and work to make the court stronger in dispensing justice.
Wike expressed shock and sorrow on the death of the former President of Rivers State Customary Court of Appeal, late Justice Christiana Gabriel-Nwankwo.
The governor described Justice Gabriel-Nwankwo as one of the state’s distinguished jurists who used their knowledge and skills to advance justice delivery.
Similarly, Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has inaugurated the state’s Multi-door Courthouse that would offer alternative resolution to litigations bothering on trade deals and social relationships.
The inauguration event held at the Rivers State High Court Complex in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Wike said establishment of the multi-door courthouse is a further demonstration of his administration’s commitment to put in place a comprehensive judicial system that would serve the dispute resolution needs of businesses and investments in the state, as well as parties from other states that may be willing to submit to its jurisdiction.
The governor maintained that the multi-door courthouse system would further expand the doors and frontiers of effective justice delivery to the people with players in the business and investment community as the greatest beneficiaries.
“Rivers State cannot but join the expanding jurisdictions across the world where the multi-door courthouse system is becoming part of the dominant alternative to litigation and arbitration in the resolution of commercial disputes, including, even relationship conflicts.”
Wike explained that the commitment of his administration to sustain the ongoing infrastructural transformation of the state has continued to attract more trade deals and investments into the state, while some existing companies are expanding their operations.
According to Wike, expansion in business operations has naturally and inevitably, caused an increase in commercial and investment disputes that would require speedy, cost effective and mutually mediated and accepted resolutions in the state.
“This is more so, when businesses cannot continue to burden their book balances with huge litigation costs in the midst of declining revenues and profit margins occasioned by the downturns in our national economy.
“Furthermore, apart from being faster in relation to litigation, one of the profound advantages of mediation is that it preserves commercial relationships after the conflict, which is what every businessman or woman needs.”
Wike said there is, therefore, the need to sensitize the business community about multi-door-courthouse and what they stand to gain from its services.
Speaking further, Wike reiterated his administration’s fundamental commitment of transforming the judicial system and make Rivers State a pre-eminent judicial hub in the southern region of Nigeria.
The governor also explained that two weeks after the State Executive Council (SEC) approved the construction of a new magistrate court complex for the state as part of plans to decongest the State High Court premises, the contractor for the project has been mobilised and construction work begun.
“When completed, this complex will accommodate all the magistrate courts presently domiciled in the State High Court complex and free-up spaces to accommodate more high courtrooms and expand access to judicial services for our citizens.”
The governor asserted that his administration has deliberately prioritised the welfare and comfort of judicial officers and magistrates in the state.
He said a law has been assented to make it a policy to provide status houses for every judicial officer of Rivers State origin, irrespective of the jurisdiction under which you are serving, whether Rivers State, Federal Judiciary, or the Judiciary of any other state of the federation.
In his speech, the Chief Judge of Rivers State, Justice Simeon Amadi said the multi-door courthouse system would regulate, encourage and strengthen the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanism in Rivers State.
Justice Amadi emphasised the core objectives of the Rivers State Multi-door Courthouse, as provided in Section 2 of the law to include the following: “Enhance access to justice by providing alternative mechanism to supplement litigation in the resolution of disputes, minimise frustrations and delay in the justice delivery system by providing a standard legal framework for fair and efficient settlement of disputes through Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
“Serve as the focal point for the promotion of alternative dispute resolution in Rivers State, and promote the growth and effective functioning of justice system through alternative dispute resolution methods.”
Rivers State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof. Zacchaeus Adangor said it was a dawn of new era for Rivers State as it joins the league of over 15 other states of the federation to commence the operation of a multi-door courthouse.
According to him, it is a court connected mechanism that would promote alternative peaceful resolution of dispute.
“There is no gain saying the fact that access to justice is a constitutional rights and that the core elements of that right include speedy, efficient, cost effective administration of justice.”
The leader, Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Rivers State and former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Onueze Okocha, SAN, said the core reason for the establishment of the multi-door courthouse system is for the speedy delivery of justice and access to justice.
The highlight of the event is the conferment of Wike as a fellow of the International Dispute Resolution Institute by Prof. C. J. Amasike.
Ateke’s Reign As King Has Brought Peace To Okrika, Wike Confirms
The governor acknowledged that without the support of traditional rulers, it would be difficult for any government at whatever level to achieve peace.
Wike stated this after he was conferred with the traditional title, “Se Taribo 1st of Okochiri Kingdom (a man who has love for his people),” at Okochiri in Okrika Local Government Area of Rivers State, last Saturday.
The governor said: “The recognition of Ateke Tom by government as the Amanyanabo of Okochiri has brought peace in this domain, and the people are happy with his leadership. And that is why, today, you can see that there is peace that reigns within the environment of Okochiri, and to greater extent, the entire Okrika Local Government.”
The governor noted that when a person is saddled with the responsibility of presiding over the affairs of the people, once his administration is predicated on justice, fairness and equity, it would yield peace and happiness for those governed.
“It is one thing to be traditional ruler, it is another thing to live up to the expectation of a traditional ruler. You have kept your kingdom as one, you have kept your kingdom in peace, you have kept your kingdom united, and that is what is expected of a traditional ruler.
“You’re not just a traditional ruler to confer chieftaincy title on us; you’re also a traditional ruler to help government to maintain peace in your domain; because without the traditional rulers, it will be difficult for any government at whatever level to achieve anything.
“Governance without peace, governance without security is no governance. Governance is predicated on protection of lives and property.”
Wike noted that the massive turn out of people from all walks of life to grace the fourth anniversary of the coronation of King Ateke Michael Tom as the Amanyanabo of Okochiri, and dedication of his new palace, was a demonstration of their appreciation of his leadership.
“Ateke Tom has brought peace. Don’t see him as Ateke Tom that fought for the Niger Delta, see him as Ateke Tom, the traditional ruler, the Amanyanabo of Okochiri Kingdom, whose traditional duty is to make sure peace reigns in his domain”, Wike told the people.
Wike, who commended the king for being supportive of the Government of Rivers State, promised to complete all ongoing infrastructural projects started by his administration in Okochiri and the entire Okrika Local Government Area.
The governor urged the people of Okrika and the rest of the country to rally round, and collectively ensure that the All Progressives Congress (APC) was ousted from power in 2023.
“It’s only God that is holding us today. Things are very difficult day by day. The government at the national level has failed us, and therefore, it’s time for Nigerians to rally round to make sure we have a government that will take care of our people.”
In his remarks, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo said the recognition of the ancient Okochiri Kingdom stool by the governor has brought peace, joy and development to the entire Okrika Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Subsidy Removal’ll Worsen Nigerians’ Suffering, PFN Tells FG
The President of PFN, Bishop Wale Oke, urged the government to shelve the proposed policy in order not to worsen the hardship and trigger crisis in the country.
Oke said this in a statement, yesterday, on the proposed subsidy removal.
He explained that the implementation of the policy would lead to hike in the price of fuel and this would have a ripple effect on prices of goods and services
Oke warned that the implementation of such policy would increase the hardship currently being experienced by the people of the country.
The cleric said prices of foodstuffs and other daily needs were increasingly going out of reach of the people, noting that if the proposed subsidy removal was effected, it would exacerbate the hardship of the people of the nation.
Oke further said the situation in the country was very bad because of the steady decline in the purchasing power of Nigerians as a result of the continuous fall in the value of the nation’s currency.
The statement read, “Everybody will feel it, particularly the less privileged. The negative effects will surely outweigh the positive.
“The cost of transportation for human and goods across the country will skyrocket and other things connected which will have a spiral effect on general living standard of the populace; the suffering will be multi-dimensional. Please let all stakeholders be sensitive to this avoidable path and do the needful.
“By whatever means, let the Federal Government put its heart into ensuring that our refineries are back to life. In addition, in order to stem the rising cost of living, farmers and others connected to them should be encouraged. This is what can help our economy.”
He said the PFN would always support policies that would enhance good governance, but charged the government to this effect to put in place tangible palliative measures that could ameliorate the hardship being experienced.
He said, “Without begging the issue, there should be well defined palliative measures in place that can cushion the effect of the hardship being experienced by Nigerians, especially the commoners. One is not talking about political palliatives that never last. We have seen enough of such.
“An increase in the price of petroleum from its present N165 to N340 per litre can trigger tension and crises in the country which in turn can paralyse our economy if not handled with utmost care.
“Again, the planned introduction of N5,000 for 40million poor Nigerians is to create a cesspool of corruption. How do you define the poor? They, mostly, don’t use telephones. They, mostly, don’t have bank accounts. How will the money get to them?”
Oke advised the government to be wary of policies that could jeopardize the conduct of the 2023 general elections, insisting that all hands must be geared towards steering the wheel of the country to safety.
As a panacea to the rising cost of food items, the PFN President advised that farmers and relevant stakeholders should be empowered with relevant tools and funds through loans with little interest.
Oke, who is also the presiding Bishop of The Sword of the Spirit Ministries, implored the government not to relent in its efforts at ensuring that security challenges in the country become a thing of the past.
Similarly, the Leader of INRI Evangelical Spiritual Church, Primate Elijah Ayodele has warned President Muhammadu Buhari against the proposed fuel subsidy removal.
In a statement released by his media aide, Osho Oluwatosin, Ayodele warned the government to withhold plans to remove fuel subsidy in the interest of the poor masses because a lot of things would be affected by it.
He made it known that the Nigerian economy isn’t in good shape at the moment and removing subsidy at a critical economic situation would cause more damage than good for the Nigerian economy.
He noted that some banks, companies would be affected and that the debt profile of the country would keep on increasing unless the government swings into action.
Furthermore, he warned Buhari not to be carried away by wrong advice because it would lead his government to nowhere.
‘’The removal of fuel subsidies at a time like this is not advisable because the economy of Nigeria isn’t in good shape. Already, the people are faced with enough hardship and removal of fuel subsidy will only worsen the situation.
‘’When the report came up last week that the government will be replacing subsidy with N5,000 transportation grant for 40million poor Nigerians, I smiled because that plan is not sustainable, there is no provision for it in the 2022 budget, then what’s the plan?
‘’I have said it before that I foresee a massive protest against hunger which will involve everyone in the country, the government doesn’t have to wait till this happens, that’s why I warned them ahead, but the path they are toiling right now is moving towards the direction of the protest. They have gotten it wrong and a time will come when political leaders will regret their positions because there will be attacks against them from everywhere by those who elected them.
‘’I advise the Federal Government to hold on with the plans to remove subsidy for the sake of the masses and for peace to reign in the country. If not, there will be an uprising,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, the Archbishop of the Enugu Ecclesiastical Province, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Most Rev. Emmanuel Chukwuma has asked the Federal Government to jettison the idea of paying N5,000 palliative to 40million Nigerians.
The government said the decision was to cushion the effect of the planned removal of fuel subsidy.
But Chukwuma, who rejected the removal of subsidy, described the proposed N5,000 palliative “as a huge disgrace.”
He said this during a press conference on the activities lined up for the 50th Anniversary of the Enugu Diocese, Anglican Communion.
While noting that the Enugu Diocese was concerned about the level of governance of Nigeria, he added that “we are also concerned about peace and the unity of Nigeria, as well as infrastructural development.”
He called on the government “to be sensitive about the situation of Nigeria; we frown against the killings, the banditry, the kidnappings, inequality, injustice and all the evils.
“Of late, we can see how ‘Mkpuru Mmiri’ is destroying our youths, it is highly condemnable. We are calling on our youths to please avoid this so that they don’t get their heads out of order. This is not how they will become future leaders.
“Right now, I want to say that the government of Nigeria has not treated the South-East fairly; particularly now that we are getting into the yuletide, Enugu-Onitsha Expressway is a total disaster, Enugu-Port Harcourt they are putting it to use but it is not yet complete.
“We are calling on the minister of works to stop playing pranks and politics with the roads in the South-East. Rail transport should also be extended to the South-East; we see no reason the minister of transport should neglect his own zone.
“It is important for our government to know that most youths are angry; they are angry because they are hungry. I just heard about giving N5,000 to 50million Nigerians, it is a disgrace. It will not bring any positives on our people. We are also frowning at galloping inflation.
“Our naira is becoming useless and something must be done about it. E-naira or whatever is not the solution at all.”
He also called on the residents of South-East not to toy with the on-going voter’s registration exercise, stressing that “these things count; South-East should stop shortchanging themselves; that’s the only way they will have a say in 2023.”
On the church’s anniversary, Chukwuma disclosed that, “It became a Diocese in August, 1970; exactly last year August, Enugu became 50 years of its inauguration with the first Bishop, Rt. Rev. Gideon Nweke Otubelu. By the grace of God, he championed the course of Enugu Diocese for 27 years.
“Last year, when it became 50 years of Enugu’s inauguration as a Diocese, we could not celebrate because of COVID; we had to shift it to this year.
“Right now, we have mapped out a one-week anniversary programme to celebrate the 50 years of Enugu Diocese. We started with a crusade which is going to last till Sunday and we have decided that from last week of this month, we will have activities from church to church, and rally, and then end it up with thanksgiving service on the 5th of December at the Cathedral Church of the Good Shepherd.
“More importantly, the two days out of it all are the 4th and the 5th of December. On the 4th, we shall be having a rally at the Christ Church field, where all the churches will assemble to have a rally for the 50th anniversary and they are going to march, church by church, archdeaconry by archdeaconry and so on.
“There, we will also have a dedication anniversary of the diagnostic centre of our hospital at the Good Shepherd Specialist Hospital, Uwani, Zik Avenue. The diagnostic centre is necessary to complement the hospital because we believe in health care, we believe in mission; on that same 12th, we are also going to dedicate a building built by the women at the Brethren Home Convent.
“Then on the 5th of December, which is Sunday, will be thanksgiving day, during which all the churches in the diocese and the dioceses created out of Enugu, 11 of them will also participate. Enugu has given birth to 11 Dioceses, with Enugu making it 12, forming what is now the ecclesiastical province of Enugu, for which I’m the Archbishop. We have the Nsukka Diocese, Abakaliki, Oji-River, Enugu North, Awgu-Aninri, Nike, Mgbo, Afikpo, Udi and Eha-Amufu Dioceses.
“Enugu Diocese is out to execute pragmatic evangelism; Enugu Diocese is out to make sure that we care for the poor, the less privileged, the widows, orphans and those who are displaced.”
Qatar Airways Begins Flights To PH, Enugu, Kano Airports
The two governments are also considering a partnership that would lead to the development of gas in both countries.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Amb Gabriel Aduda, said collaboration in the areas of air travel and gas development between Nigeria and Qatar would enhance economic growth and development.
A statement by the Embassy of Nigeria in Doha, Qatar, quoted Aduda as saying this when he met with the Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar, Dr. Ahmed bin Hassan Al Hammadi, in Doha.
The envoys appreciated the cordial bilateral relations both countries enjoy since the establishment of diplomatic relations about a decade ago in 2013.
They agreed that the good service being offered by the Qatar Airways by launching direct flight to Abuja will be expanded to Kano, Enugu and Port Harcourt while acknowledging the contributions of the State of Qatar to the improvement of livelihood of many Nigerians in some states of the country through Qatar Charity and similar organisations.
Aduda was accompanied to the meeting by the Nigerian Ambassador to the State of Qatar, Yakubu Ahmed, and the Head of Chancery, Mr. Kimiebi Ebienfa.
According to the statement, the Federal Government was currently deepening natural gas utilisation to enable it to boost investment in power and gas-based industries.
Aduda called for investment in gas exploration and infrastructure, technology exchange, skills acquisition and knowledge sharing, manpower development in safety and environment.
He also listed other areas of potential partnership to include gas shipping and marine transportation, advocacy and collaboration in campaigning for gas as fuel of choice in the midst of climate change and global energy transition.
As a result, Aduda called for relaxation of visa restrictions on Nigerians who intend to visit Qatar as well as easing of work visa for Nigerian professionals.
In his response, Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar, Dr. Ahmed bin Hassan Al Hammadi, recalled the robust relations between Nigeria and Qatar, and lauded the proposal for cooperation between the two countries.
According to him, Qatar was ready to provide training for Nigerian diplomats.
To achieve this, he said the Head of the Diplomatic Institute would meet with the Nigerian side and agree on the terms and develop a framework to actualise set objectives.
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