Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has said that in the last seven and half years, his administration has diligently supported the Judiciary to discharge its constitutional mandate.
The governor said all the promises his administration made to the people concerning the Judiciary have been fulfilled with impressive achievements beyond the imagination of many.
Wike made the assertion in his remarks at the 2022/23 Legal Year opening ceremony at the Rivers State Judiciary Complex, Port Harcourt, last Wednesday.
The governor noted that as the third arm of government, the Judiciary plays a critical role in advancing the rule of law, justice and good governance.
He noted that on assumption of office in 2015, his administration met a Judiciary in Rivers State that was at crossroads.
“The State High Court had no chief judge, leadership, or direction for nearly two years. The governor then attempted to impose a chief judge on the state outside due process. When this devious attempt was resisted, he instigated a phantom crisis and closed down the state’s courts until he left office.
“We knew that the ensuing social and economic anarchy would ruin Rivers State without functional courts to uphold and defend the rule of law. Beyond the crisis, we also inherited a Judiciary neglected to the hilt, dilapidated and inadequate courthouses, and unpaid salary arrears.
“Our first task was to revive the Judiciary and ensure the speedy administration of justice. Without wasting time, we appointed the first female chief judge for the state, reopened the courts, and restored judicial services from our first day in office.”
He explained that his administration began rehabilitating the existing courthouses and built new ones for the State High Court.
Wike added that within the first year in office, he provided a new Special Utility Vehicles (SUVs) to judges as official cars, which have since been replaced since 2019.
The governor said that prior to his administration, judges in the state were faced with the challenge of lack of retirement home.
According to him, the government considered it morally wrong for the state to evict judges from their official quarters and force them to rented apartments after they retired from service.
“We, therefore, enacted the Judicial Officers Housing Scheme Law, and took over the responsibility of providing life-long residences for Rivers State judges, including those serving in federal jurisdictions.
“We have since implemented this law by providing 4-bedroom duplexes with appurtenances, including security and regular electricity at the ChinweAgumaJudicial Estate, to our judges.
“Similarly, those who opted not to reside in the estate were given an equivalent monetary value to build or buy similar houses.”
To further strengthen the judicial system, the governor said his administration was presently constructing a new ultra-modern magistrates’ court complex to relocate all the magistrates’ courts from the premises of the State High Court Complex.
He said the state government has also completed the Justice Mary Odili Judicial Institute, to complement the National Judicial Institute to provide relevant training and capacity building for Rivers State judges and magistrates to enhance their competences for effective service delivery.
The governor maintained that his administration has also been releasing the capital and recurrent budgets of the Judiciary from 2015 to date.
According to him, three weeks ago, the state government released over 80percent of the 2022 Judiciary’s capital votes to the state’s chief judge.
Moved by the need to expand access to the Nigerian Law School and reduce the admission backlog, the governor said the state government had requested and secured the approval of the Federal Government to build a new campus in Port Harcourt.
“We recently delivered the Nabo Graham-Douglas Campus of the Nigerian Law School to the Council of Legal Education to fulfil this promise. With a carrying capacity of over 1,500 boarding students, this campus ranks as the best law school campus in Nigeria, and will remain so for a long time.”
Furthermore, he said at the request of the Director General of the Nigerian Law School, the Rivers State Government built twin 900-bed capacity hostels and a 1,500-sitting-capacity auditorium for the YenagoaCampus of the Nigerian Law School.
Wike said he remains confident that his successor would sustain a more robust relationship with the Judiciary in the state.
In his remarks, the Chief Judge of Rivers State, Hon. Justice Simeon Amadi, commended Wike for his immense support for the Judiciary in the state.
Justice Amadi urged lawyers in the state to avail themselves of the benefits of the Multi-door Court established to ensure greater access to mediated dispute settlements, especially for the business and investment community.
He explained that the state Judiciary generated over N1.2billion in the current legal year.
On his part, the Rivers State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof. ZacchaeusAdangor, SAN, described as sacrilegious unguarded verbal attacks against judges by lawyers.
Adangor said unguarded verbal attacks drain the confidence of judges, and called on lawyers to desist from castigating the judges.
Speaking on behalf of the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Onueze C.J. Okocha, SAN, observed that the Judiciary was still plagued by slow dispensation of justice.
Okocha, who was the former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), suggested that to overcome this challenge, states should be allowed to determine the number of judges and magistrates they need.
Also speaking, Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Port Harcourt Branch, Barrister Victor Benibo, commended Wike for his immense contributions to the advancement of legal profession in the state and the country.
Earlier, the governor and his wife, Hon. Justice Eberechi Suzzette Nyesom-Wike, the Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, and other top government functionaries had attended a special church service at St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral Church in Port Harcourt to mark the beginning of the 2022/2023 Legal Year.
RSHA: Amaewhule-Led Lawmakers Defy Court Order, Elect New Leaders
The crisis rocking the Rivers State House of Assembly took a new twist on Wednesday as lawmakers loyal to the former Speaker, Martin Amaewhule, sat under tight security in the complex.
This is contrary to the court order asking the two factions of the State House of Assembly to maintain the status quo pending the determination of a suit filed by the Edison Ehie faction.
Recall that Ehie faction had obtained a court order that parties should maintain the status quo pending the determination of a suit seeking to sack Amaewhule as the House Speaker.
The Rivers Assembly had become factionalised following an unsuccessful move to impeach Governor Siminialayi Fubara.
The Amaewhule-led lawmakers are believed to be loyal to Fubara’s predecessor and political godfather, Nyesom Wike.
It was learnt that ahead of Wednesday’s sitting, cleaners had on Tuesday been deployed to clean up the Assembly complex, which had been under locks, since October 29, following an explosion in the complex the night before.
One of the cleaners said they were instructed to tidy up the complex ahead of a sitting on Wednesday.
It was gathered that the Wednesday sitting was held for about two hours as a team of riot policemen and security vans were stationed in front of the House to prevent any breaches.
It was gathered that the lawmakers elected a former Chief Whip as the new Majority Leader of the Assembly.
The member, representing Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Constituency 1, Frankline Nwabochi, was named the new Chief Whip.
An unsigned statement sent to the Assembly Press Corps obtained by The Tide said the two new principal officers accordingly took their oath of office.
Amaewhule congratulated them, charging them to be committed to their new responsibilities.
According to the statement, the lawmakers also passed the first reading of a Bill seeking to amend the Rivers State Local Government Law, No. 5 of 2018.
They also debated on the Rivers State House of Assembly Funds Management (Financial Autonomy) Bill, 2023, which passed second reading on Wednesday.
Amaewhule who described the Bill as important, expressed his conviction that Governor Fubara would assent to it after the lawmakers finally pass it.
He hinted that the governor had withheld funds meant for the Assembly for the month of November.
He said the lawmakers were determined to perform their constitutional duties despite the distractions.
He thereafter referred the Bill to the House Committee on Public Accounts for public hearing and further legislative scrutiny.
The other faction of the Assembly led by Ehie, and loyal to Fubara, had yet to react to the Wednesday development as of the time of filing this report.
Ogoni Group Mulls Recall Of Lawmakers Over Foiled Fubara’s Impeachment
An Advocacy group in Rivers State, Ogoni Development Drive (ODD), says it has begun the process to recall four Ogoni lawmakers from the Rivers House of Assembly over their alleged roles in the botched impeachment of Governor Similanayi Fubara.
The lawmakers are Dumle Maol (PDP, Gokana constituency), Barile Nwakoh (PDP, Khana), Aforji Igwe (PDP, Eleme) and Bernard Ngba (PDP, Tai).
The group’s Convener, Comrade Solomon Lenu, made this known at a news conference in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Recall that Fubara survived an alleged impeachment plot on October 30.
ODD said it had on November 10 issued a seven-day ultimatum to the four Ogoni lawmakers who partook in the plot that attempted to serve an impeachment notice to Governor Fubara.
The four lawmakers, now suspended, were asked to apologise to the Ogoni people whom they represent and to Gov. Fubara for denigrating his exalted office or risk being recalled.
“Instead of heeding this advice and embracing the olive branch extended to them, they rather embarked on an egocentric escapade,” the group said.
Lenu further said the lawmakers rather than heed to the advice by ODD, engaged in various meetings that purportedly plotted to unseat the governor.
“Governor Fubara was collectively voted for by the entire Rivers people, and as such, the action by the lawmakers has not gone well with all men and women of conscience.
“It is illogical for the erring assembly members to think it is right to impeach an innocent governor for no just cause but wrong to recall them for erring against their constituents.
“The suspended lawmakers called a bluff of ODD ultimatum, and so, we have decided to carry out this recall process in earnest, to put our democracy aright,” he said.
Lenu said the group had already reached an advanced level in sensitising and mobilising the lawmaker’s constituents to recall them.
He said that ODD had also obtained the comprehensive voters’ register of all voters in the four local government areas and constituencies.
According to him, an electronic capture form has also been created to make the petition process easier for students at various tertiary school campuses and those on holiday to sign the petition.
“So far, the response from the aggrieved constituents has been very impressive, and we shall in a few weeks’ time complete the compilation of the required signatures.
“The signatures are required for INEC to call for a referendum, which shall be carried out in branches with strict security guidance, to abort any sinister counterplot against democracy.
“We know this process is not going to be easy, but we are ready to go all the way, to create a sense of responsibility in our elected leaders,” he said.
Lenu said instilling a sense of responsibility in politicians and elected leaders would further entrench democratic tenets in the country.
The ODD convener called on the people of Ogoni to come forward and sign the petition, to end political “jamboree and illicit godfatherism” in the state.
The Tide reports that 26 lawmakers on Oct. 30 proceeded to impeach Fubara but were stopped by four pro-Fubara lawmakers led by Ehie Edison (PDP-Ahoada East II).
Mr Martins Amaewhule (Obio Akpor constituency), a close ally of a former governor, was later ousted as Speaker and Ehie sworn in as the new Speaker.
However, Amaewhule insists that he is still the Speaker of the House of Assembly, resulting in some form of confusion over the office of the Speaker.
FRSC Commander Faces Sanction Over Unauthorised Comments
The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), yesterday, disowned the Unit Commander, Central Business District Unit Command, Assistant Corps Commander IL Ibrahim, over his recent statement on Vehicle Inspection Officers, otherwise known as Directorate of Road Traffic Services.
Ibrahim was quoted to have said that VIO officials did not have the right to arrest road traffic violators, including overloaded vehicles and motorists caught using phones while driving.
But Deputy Corps Marshal, Bisi Kazeem, in a statement, yesterday, said Ibrahim’s comment was not the position of the Corps.
Kazeem added that the concerned official had been recalled to the national headquarters for necessary disciplinary action.
The statement read, “The Federal Road Safety Corps wishes to make a pertinent clarification regarding the pronouncement by the Unit Commander, Central Business District Unit Command, Assistant Corps Commander IL Ibrahim, that Vehicle Inspection Officers, otherwise known as Directorate of Road Traffic Services, do not have the right to arrest road traffic violators, including overloaded vehicles and motorists caught using phones while driving.
“The general public is advised to disregard the statement as it had no approval of the Corps Marshal, Dauda Ali Biu, and does not in anyway reflect the corporate or general position of the Corps.
“It is important for the public know that the laws establishing VIOs/State Traffic Management Agencies give them the statutory mandate to make arrests on different offences depending on the state within which they operate. As such, the agencies should be given the maximum cooperation for the enhancement of safety on our roads.
“On this note and in line with sustaining the Corps’ resolve that road safety is a collective responsibility, and in acknowledgement of the roles the State Traffic Management Agencies like the Vehicle Inspection Officers play in complementing the statutory responsibilities of the FRSC through enforcement of traffic laws, the Corps Marshal has ordered the immediate withdrawal of the Unit Commander to the national headquarters for necessary administrative and disciplinary actions.
“The public is admonished to always comply with all established traffic regulations and cooperate with security agencies deployed to maintain law and order on the highways, irrespective of their corporate mandate.”
Nation2 days ago
Ibom Developers Provides Healthcare Support To 1,200 Residents
News1 day ago
Nigeria, Benin To Deepen Ties Ahead Of ECOWAS Summit
Politics1 day ago
Benue LGs Dissolution Lawless – Senate Minority Leader
Featured1 day ago
RSG Plans Media Village …As Johnson Wants Journalists To Be Objective On Unfolding Devs In Rivers
Business2 days ago
CBN Gov Approves Charter On Ease Of Doing Business
News1 day ago
VCDF Promotes Innovation Among Students For Sustainable Future
Sports1 day ago
Nigeria, Zambia Join WAFCON Train
Nation2 days ago
LASTMA Set To Demote, Dismiss Officers Over Corruption