Port Harcourt — Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has expressed his satisfaction with his administration’s steadfast efforts to strengthen the judiciary so that it can fulfill its constitutional duties.
At the 2022–23 Legal Year opening ceremony, held yesterday in Port Harcourt, Wike declared that all of the promises his administration had made regarding the judiciary had been fulfilled in way beyond the expectations of most people.
The governor noted on assumption of office in 2015, “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 the due process. When this devious attempt was resisted, he instigated a phantom crisis and closed down the state 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 during his administration’s first year in office, judges received new Special Utility Vehicles as official cars, which have since been replaced since 2019. His administration also started renovating the current courthouses and building new ones for the state High Court.
Prior to his administration, according to Wike, the state’s judges faced the problem of having nowhere to retire. His administration believed it was immoral for the state to evict judges from their official quarters and force them to rent apartments once they had completed their terms of service.
“We then enacted the Judicial Officers Housing Scheme Law and took over 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 Chinwe Aguma judicial 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.”
The governor stated that his administration was currently building a brand-new, ultra-modern magistrates’ court complex to house all of the magistrate courts from the locations of the state High Court complex in order to further strengthen the judicial system.
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