Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, has declared that his administration will continue to modernize and streamline court processes in the state to enhance access to justice and ensure a more effective and efficient delivery of judicial services to the people.
Addressing the the Nigerian Bar Association’s National Executive Committee (NBA-NEC) in Port Harcourt on Thursday, Governor Wike stated his administration has taken proactive measures to improve access to justice in the state by reopening the courts and resolving the judiciary conflict it inherited from his predecessor.
He said : "We have since re-opened the doors to the courts that were closed against the people of Rivers State by my predecessor for over a year before we came into office. Today the gates of our courts are open and accessible for business. Let me renew my promise before this solemn assembly, that for as long as I remain the Governor, we will not do anything to disparage, assault, infringe or damage the existential rights, autonomy and integrity of the judiciary in Rivers State or elsewhere.
"We have also fulfilled our promise to grant financial autonomy to the judiciary by ensuring that appropriated funds meant for the judiciary are placed on first-line charge and promptly released when funds are available."
Speaking further, Governor Wike said: "The parlous condition of the State’s finances notwithstanding, we have in the last five months released the sum of N500, 000,000.00 to the Judiciary for capital expenditure, out of which, N350, 000,000.00 and N150, 000,000.00 were respectively transmitted to the State High Court and the Customary Court of Appeal of the State. In addition to the regular release of overheads to the Judiciary, we are at the final stages of processing the release of another N200, 000,00000 to the State High Court. As I stated during the opening of the Legal Year in the State, the days of chronic financial neglect and helplessness are over for the judiciary in Rivers State."
The governor said his administration has started building new courts and the renovation of existing ones throughout the State to ensure more people have access to justice. Governor Wike announced that his administration has started the process of building a new law centre for lawyers in the state, while he directed the Attorney-Generalof the State to release six coaster buses to Five NBA branches and Women Lawyers.
He said: "We have also concluded plans to provide new official vehicles to all magistrates and heads of customary courts in the State to enhance their comfort and mobility." He took time to explain his administration’s successes in the execution of development projects, welfare of Rivers people and the empowerment of the less privileged. In his address, President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Mr Augustine Alegeh said the Bar will continue to work for the promotion of rule of law.
Attorney-General of Rivers State, Mr Emmanuel Aguma, SAN, stated that by virtue of the visit to Rivers State, Nigerian lawyers would have realised that the state is peaceful and functional. Acting Chief Judge of Rivers State, Justice Daisy Okocha commended Governor Wike for ensuring the independence of the judiciary and enhancing financial autonomy.
Special Assistant to the Rivers State Governor, Electronic Media.
The New Rivers State has a team of prolific writers who will be introduced with time.