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DESOPADEC MD Calls For Judicial Reforms

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Managing Director of the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC), Bashorun Askia Ogieh, has called for urgent reforms in the country’s judicial sector describing it as a profession whose image is being badly damaged with “accompanying innuendos.”
He also lamented the activities of the law enforcement operatives which according to him led to the “ignoble removal of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria and the beginning of the gradual killing of the judiciary helped by the timid response from the BAR.”
The DESOPADEC boss made his position known while speaking as a guest at the annual law week of the Nigeria Bar Association (BAR), Oleh branch which was held at the Anglican Women Hall, Oleh.
In his paper presentation titled, “An appraisal of the contemporary Nigerian Lawyer: Development or Regression,” he took a swipe on some judges over their frivolous and most times conflicting rulings of courts of coordinate jurisdiction, saying, “You don’t need me to tell you that this has badly tarnished the image of the judiciary.”
Speaking further, he said: “Ex parte motions are buzz words today, so popularised by their abuses. By my understanding, there is nothing wrong with ex-partes. But when you know that a matter is before a court of coordinate jurisdiction, you don’t need to shop around for courts and judges to get favourable rulings and or judgements for your clients.
“For me, that is a cardinal sin against the judiciary and your noble profession. Was it not curious and incredible that your colleagues in Anambra travelled 950 kilometers to Jigawa to obtain an exparte ruling on a matter that was already before a judge in Awka?
“And, I am amazed that the indicted judges are claiming ignorance of the same cases that are before coordinate courts. It means the judges are not reading, it means they are not following contemporary issues; they are alienating themselves from society as if they are not part of it. That is wrong, if it is the hard to believe truth that they were truly not aware, because they are members of the society who should be up to date with happenings around them.
“For me, the actions of the lawyers and judges tantamount to gross judicial misconduct which should be urgently addressed to redeem the image of the judiciary.”
On the removal of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, the DESOPADEC boss while taking a swipe at the BAR, said: “You didn’t resist it. You were cowed. It was not good enough, that a low level judicial officer who was even standing trial could remove a Chief Justice of Nigeria, and the BAR kept quiet. It was a sad commentary on the profession. You must defend and protect the profession at all times.
“Is Justice expensive? So it seems since it is now above the reach of the common man. The highest bidder gets justice these days and the common man relies on “God Dey,” a hopeful prayer of the streets which oftentimes leads to resort to self-help by the terribly aggrieved who failed to get justice at the altar of justice.
“There has been a plethora of how some Judges, Senior Advocates, Senior Counsel and other lawyers have engaged in this act of impunity. This without doubt has become a snarl in the wheel of legal profession in the country and there must be a 360 degree turnaround. The question is who do we run to for sane legal advocacy and canopy if those who ought to play that role are falling short of expectation?
”Critics also finger the undue delay in the administration of justice in the Nigerian legal system as a hydra-headed monster that has fastened its lethal proboscis on the fabric of our legal system. The blame here is shared by both the BAR and the Bench”.
“Some Judges sit very late while others sit sporadically. When they do come to court, they are in a hurry to usher off the lawyers from the stage as soon as possible. They adjourn at the slightest prompting and may even take months to write a simple ruling on the admissibility of a document.
“Lawyers too are not left out of this misnomer as they shoulder a portion of the blame, often seeking needless adjournments, frivolous amendments to pleadings, notices of appeals and briefs. Some are even rumored to collude with court officials (without the knowledge of the Judge) and smuggle documents which the Judges rightfully refuse to acknowledge when the matter comes up.”
Proffering the way out for the judiciary, he advocated on the need for innovation and legal dexterity which he said is not one to undermine due to its long-term impact in the entire legal profession.
According to him, “A lawyer that takes innovation and ingenuity for granted in this present time when the world seems to be racing against time itself is likely to be left behind to pine over nothing. Technology and other modern approaches to issues are gradually creeping in and taking over the traditional jobs of legal practitioners. It is therefore only the vigilant, industrious, innovative and diligent lawyers that may stand the test of time.”
Speaking further, he said: “No doubt, this is the age of digital information, communication and technology. By implication, any lawyer worth his salt will not sit on the fence and assume that it is the same route that must be taken to reach Eldorado. Time has indeed changed as it has suddenly proved to be so rare and no respecter of the indolent anymore.
It is also changing fast and will certainly continue to change and move at a pace that responds to the reality of the day. Particularly, the 21st century has proved to be tech-driven, permeating virtually all aspects of life. Law is not an exception to this trend.
“Development, we are told, is an organic concept measured in tangible and intangible. The criteria for determining whether the lawyer is progressing or receding will depend on what is required as his roles and responsibilities toward society.
“For me, I am of the opinion that the contemporary Nigerian lawyer can improve his current performance by taking cognizance of and electing to be guided by the rules of professional conduct. The Nigerian lawyer must therefore be on top of his game, else he may blur off the radar.”

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School Retracts Statement, Apologises Over Alleged Abuse Of Female Student

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A private secondary school in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, has retracted its statement over the alleged abuse of a female student by an official of the school.
The school, King Solomon Secondary School, has also apologised to the girl’s parents over the incident.
The school’s initial position was that the 16-year-old girl who is in SS3 was indecently dressed to school and had muttered “offensive words” when confronted by the school official.
It had also said a report of the incident posted on Facebook by Celestine Mel, a relative of the girl, was exaggerated.
Mr Mel’s Facebook post has photos of the student with bruises all over her body allegedly inflicted by the official, identified as Ndifreke.
“The charge was that her school uniform was too short, and goes against the Bible, which forms the moral pillar of the school.
“She wanted to strip the child down. The child tried to run away. Ndifreke (the official) descended on her, using every weapon within her reach: cane, stick, planks. From the head to her back, shoulder, thighs, legs, etc,” Mr Mel wrote.
Continuing, he wrote: “There were bumps, blood and bruises. She looked like a lucky survivor, out from bombed-out rubble in a war zone. The head bulged out. The eyes blood-shot. Her skin peeled here and there, lacerated and bleeding. She left the school by foot and in pain, and walked home by foot, several kilometers away.

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Dep Gov Wants MDAs To Boost Bayelsa IGR

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The Bayelsa State Government has charged various revenue generating ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to redouble their efforts in the drive to improve the internally generated revenue (IGR) of the state.
The Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, gave the charge while declaring open the ninth Bayelsa Tax Advisory and Review Committee (TARC) meeting in Yenagoa, recently.
He reminded members of the committee that it was high time they explored new and better ways of generating revenue in order to boost the revenue profile of the state.
He pointed out that the state was not where it supposed to be, in terms of income generation, noting that Bayelsa’s IGR would not rise until better methods were employed.
Ewhrudjakpo, who commended members of the committee for their support and contributions to the implementation of the present administration’s fiscal policies in 2021, implored them to be more passionate about their responsibility this year.
The Bayelsa number two citizen who also doubles as Chairman of the State Tax Advisory and Review Committee (TARC), urged the Committee to scale up efforts in their revenue drive to enable government pay workers’ salaries as and when due without depending on monthly federal allocations.
To achieve this, the deputy governor said, some tough and proper decisions would be taken not only to expand the state tax net but also identify and plug areas of revenue leakages in the system.
He however, assured the law abiding and tax-paying public of the present administration’s readiness to eradicate multiple taxation as part of its investment promotion strategy.
“I want to use this opportunity to thank members of TARC for their support and contributions that took us to where we were last year. But clearly, that is not where we ought to be.
“Although we are not where we used to be, we also are not where we supposed to be as a state in terms of IGR. This therefore means, some more determination as well as passion is required for us to get there.
“If what you know cannot change you, then you have to change what you know. And so, if what we are doing cannot give us the dividends we need, then we need to change what we are doing.
“Until we forage and also explore new avenues, our revenue profile will remain what it is and we can never change. And so, we should not be afraid of daring because without daring, we cannot win.
“We should be seen to be written on the positive side of history that, ‘yes, progress was made by the previous TARC but that better progress was made by this present TARC.
“We still have a lot to do to increase our IGR. We should be able to pay our workers’ salaries as a state with what we generate even though we may not be well resourced as some states in the country,” the Deputy Governor said.

By: Ariwera Ibibo-Howells, Yenagoa

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Judges, Judicial Staff, Others Extol Chief Judge’s Virtues

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Justices of the Bayelsa State Judiciary and others have commended the Bayelsa State Chief Justice Kate Abiri for her leadership qualities.
The Tide reports that the commendations came on the side line of the 64th birthday celebration of the Chief Judge which held at the Judges’ quarters in Yenagoa, the state capital.
Speaking as Chairman of the occasion, Justice Ken Aganaba in his opening remarks, described Justice Abiri as a woman of excellence known for her brilliance, sagacity and honesty, adding that the Bayelsa Chief bencher was a prudent manager of resources.
He pointed out that the Chief Judge was dependable and have cemented a good working relationship between the bar and the bench as well as with other arms of government in the state.
While thanking God for the enablement given Judicial officers to perform their duties, Justice Aganaba also prayed God to grant the celebrant good health to complete her tenure in the next one year before retirement.
In an exhortation tagged, ‘Benefit of the Lord’, Pastor Amatari Zuofa, advised the living to celebrate God, noting that Justice Abiri has enjoyed good health even at 64 due to her love and service to the Lord and humanity.
“The matters that mattered most are inside us as nobody has ever worked on his or her internal organs. God has been very faithful to everyone. We must fear and serve the Lord, let’s all adore and worship the Lord”, the clergy said.
The Tide reports that the Bayelsa State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Biriyai Dambo, proposed the toast for the Chief Judge’s birthday celebration, wishing her long life and prosperity in health, wealth, wisdom, knowledge and understanding.
Meanwhile in their separate goodwill messages, the duo of the President of the State Customary Court of Appeal, Justice Ayah, and the Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Sayo, as well as the state Chairman, Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), Comrade Keme Dirikebamo and the Yenagoa Federal High Court Judge, Justice Isa Bashiru, described Justice Kate Abiri as a role model who have demonstrated love, care, commitment to duty, saying she has encouraged others to succeed.
They noted that the Chief Judge’s calm disposition has enabled her to forge a good working relationship with the Bar and the Bench and the entire staff of the state Judiciary.
Giving her vote of thanks, the celebrant, Justice Abiri, thanked guests for creating time out of their tight schedules to come celebrate her. She said that her 64th birthday celebration is a ‘dress rehearsal’ to 2023 when she will retire from active service.
Abiri described the work of judges as a sacred one, noting that the judiciary in the state is one of the fastest growing in the country; she thanked God for keeping her alive and expressed gratitude to judges, magistrates, lawyers and staff of the judiciary for their support and show of solidarity for her leadership.
She also lauded her husband, Mr Patrick Abiri, for his understanding as well as the wife of the first Chief Judge of the state, Mrs Ungbuku, retired Justice, Margaret Akpomienmien, Pastor Amatari Doutimi, the district minister of Greater Evangelism World Crusade and other ministers of God for their prayers and support, praying God to bless them beyond their imagination.
Dignitaries present at the occasion included, newly appointed justice, and wife of the Bayelsa State Governor, Patience Ama Diri, Justice Timi Cocodia, Justice I. Eradiri and Justice Eneni Opoko. Abraham.
Also present were, Hon. Justice T.Y Abas, Justice E.T Okara, and another newly sworn-in Justice of the state Judiciary, Christine Omo Enegesi, Hon.Justice Simon Amadou Bowa, and Dame Grace Fiepere, amongst others.

By: Ariwera Ibibo-Howells, Yenagoa

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