Tony John, Port Harcourt
Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, has charged judges of the High Court and Customary Court of Appeal to be fearless, firm and steadfast in dispensing justice for the development of society.
Governor Wike has also threatened to take the issue of practising judges, who are traditional rulers, to the National Judicial Commission (NJC), for action.
He stated this when he swore in judges of the State High Court and Customary Court of Appeal at the Government House, Port Harcourt.
The governor tasked the judges to be more committed to carrying out their jobs and be guided by the oath of office they had taken.
He said: “It is easy to take the oath of office and difficult to abide by the oath of office. As judges, show commitment in the administration of justice.
“Wherever you serve, it is important for you to show commitment.”
The governor said that the judiciary has the responsibility to correct the executive whenever it goes wrong.
He expressed optimism that Nigeria would progress if the judiciary could play its constitutional roles.
Wike stated: “This country can be better if the judiciary plays its role. The judiciary is the most powerful. When the executive is wrong, the judiciary is there to correct it. Anything done by the executive, can be upturned by the judiciary if they are firm.
“I vied to be governor of Rivers State and there were challenges. You opted to be a judge, and there were challenges. You should be mentally and psychologically prepared to face the challenges.
“After today, you are required to do tasking jobs – jobs that will affect you and your family. You have taken oath and you must abide by the tenets of the oath,” he said
Governor Wike charged judges of the state judiciary to be focused and not be distracted by other responsibilities.
He regretted that a few judges, aside serving in the state judiciary, were also traditional rulers.
He urged such judges to choose between the traditional institution and the judiciary.
He asked: “How can you go to court to seek justice and the judge that is supposed to preside over the matter is not there? You cannot continue to collect salaries and you are not working.
“We are taking the matter of judges who are traditional rulers up with the National Judicial Council for necessary action”, Wike said.
He announced that the state government would legalise the owner-occupier policy of residential quarters for judges of the state judiciary.
He said that his administration was implementing the owner-occupier policy to encourage the judiciary to serve the state better.
Those sworn-in by the governor as judges of the state High Court included Justice Florence Atili Fiberesima (immediate past Solicitor General/Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice), Justice Mark Onyema Chuku, (former Chief Magistrate 1/Deputy Chief Registrar), and Justice Lemea Ngbor-Abina (former private legal practitioner).
For the state Customary Court of Appeal, Wike inaugurated Justice Ericonda Amadi, as a judge.