The long drawn battle in the Rivers State judiciary was laid to rest yesterday as the state governor, Nyesom Wike announced that the state judiciary will have financial autonomy so that it can work independently without being muscled by the executive.
Speaking on Monday while swearing-in the state Acting Chief Judge, Justice Daisy Okocha and the Acting President of the Customary Court of Appeal of Rivers State, Governor Wike stated that he would never starve the judiciary of funds as a tool for arm twisting that arm of government.
The governor noted that the independence of the Judiciary was necessary for the smooth running of government in the state.
He however expressed his disappointment with the attitude of the Bench during the crisis in the state, saying that they were divided when they were supposed to be united to fight the destruction of the judicial system by the out gone administration of Rotimi Amaechi
Governor Wike also blamed the lackadaisical attitude of the Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, for failing to defend the legal profession in the face of attacks from a desperate administration seeking self preservation.
“As a lawyer, I am highly disappointed by the action of the NBA. Something that you know is wrong, but everyone kept quiet. The actions that the NBA is taking now are belated. Suspending the former Attorney-General is coming late in the day. They failed to speak up when everything was going wrong. We got to that level of decadence because NBA failed to act”
Wike noted that he will always follow due process in appointing judicial officers, stating that he will never make appointments on the premise of self preservation.
“If I believe in self preservation, I would have appointed my wife acting Chief Judge and the second in line who is my in-law as Acting President Customary Court of Appeal. But I am a person who believes in due process. All through my leadership, we will follow due process in all appointments and actions.”
In her response, the Rivers State Acting Chief Judge, Justice Daisy Okocha stated that there will be zero tolerance to corruption under her leadership.
Okocha commended the governor for working towards the financial autonomy of the judiciary and noted that she would ensure the revival of Rivers State.
The event which was held at Government House, Port Harcourt was attended by Judges, Senior lawyers and key stakeholders of Rivers State.
In another development, Wike on Monday took leaders of the state on a tour of the Government House, Port Harcourt allegedly vandalised by officials of the administration of the immediate past governor, Rotimi Amaechi.
The Governor took the leaders to the Residential Quarter, Offices and the Banquet Hall where key furniture, televisions and electrical accessories were vandalised by the former administration.
Speaking with journalists shortly after the tour, Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr Mrs. Ipalibo Harry Banigo berated officials of the immediate past administration for embarking on the vandalism of property of government at the Government House, Port Harcourt.
Immediate Past Deputy Governor of the state, Tele Ikuru regretted that officials of the Amaechi administration would stoop so low to steal furniture, coat of arms, crested rugs and electrical fittings in the Government House.
He urged the governor to take steps to ensure that all those involved in the looting of facilities in the Government House, Port Harcourt. Were brought to book
Rivers State PDP Chairman, Bro Felix Obuah condemned the vandalism of beds and furniture at the official quarter of the Governor.
“It is unimaginable that the beds, chairs and official crested rugs in the Governor’s official quarters were stolen. Even the foam they left is Mouka foam, which they used to replace the original foam.
“This level of looting is embarrassing and must not go unpunished. It is sad that officials of the last administration will go to that level in their quest to destabilise the incoming administration “.
At the Banquet Hall of the Government House, Port Harcourt, officials of the administration had moved away more than 500 chairs and key tables from the facility that takes 1000 persons.
Kitchen accessories in the Governor’s official quarters were also vandalised by officials of the former administration.