The Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, has accused the Federal Government of playing politics with judicial autonomy in total disregard to the provisions of the constitution.
The governor made the observation at the inauguration and handover of the National Industrial Court Judges Quarters in Old Government Residential Area, Port Harcourt on Thursday.
Wike in a statement by his media aide, Kelvin Ebiri, explained that under a federal system of government, it was only the executive arm of government, at all the tiers, that had the powers to present the annual budget to either state or National Assembly and also signed it into law.
According to him, the new narrative that a presidential implementation committee has been set up and will direct governors to sign budgetary allocations for the judiciary was unconstitutional.
Wike said a federal government that is promoting autonomy of the judiciary should not have allowed the nation’s courts to be shut for about two months by Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria.
“Is it true that the Federal Government wants the autonomy of the judiciary? If the Federal Government wants the autonomy of the judiciary, how can a government say that the courts should be shut down for almost two months now?” he asked.
The governor said his administration had fully implemented the autonomy of the judiciary and the legislature with releases of their financial entitlements as captured in the budget up till 2021.
He proclaimed that already the no-work no-pay policy had come into force in Rivers State and all judiciary and parliamentary workers could not sit at home and expect salary anymore.
Inaugurating the facility, Chief Justice of Nigeria, Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, noted that Wike remained a strong voice in the clamour for judicial independence and financial autonomy.
Represented by Justice Mary Odili of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, Justice Muhammad said Wike’s affection and innate passion for the welfare and wellbeing of the Nigerian judiciary is worthy of emulation.
The President of the National Industrial Court, Justice Benedict Kanyip, said Wike had made history in Nigeria by being the first to build a court and residential apartment for judges of the Industrial Court.
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