Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has expressed fulfillment over his administration’s diligent support at enhancing the judiciary to discharge its constitutional mandate.
Wike at the 2022/23 Legal Year opening ceremony, held in Port Harcourt, yesterday, said all promises his administration made concerning the judiciary had been fulfilled in impressive achievements beyond the imaginations of many.
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 his administration began rehabilitating the existing courthouses and built new ones for the state High Court and within the first year in office, provided a new Special Utility Vehicle to judges as official cars, which have since been replaced since 2019.
Wike said prior to his administration, judges in the state were faced with the challenge of lack of a retirement home, his 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 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.”
To further strengthen the judicial system, the governor said his administration was currently constructing a new ultra-modern magistrates’ court complex to relocate all the magistrates’ courts from the premises of the state High Court complex.