Judiciary may have all the money and still not be independent – Wike

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, on Thursday warned that Nigeria cannot make progress if the judiciary fails to assert itself.

The governor described as worrisome, a situation whereby judges feel so intimidated to discharge their constitutional duties.

Governor Wike stated this shortly after the swearing in of two new High Court judges and a permanent secretary at the Government House, Port Harcourt on Thursday.

The two newly sworn in judges are Justice Ben-Whyte Opufaa and Justice Gbasam Okogbule, while the new permanent secretary is, Sir Dagogo Abere.

The governor noted that due to fear, some judges now instigate petition against themselves in an attempt to avoid handling some perceived sensitive matters.

Governor Wike urged judges to be firm and bear in mind the oath of office which they sworn to.

He further advised judges to resist attempt to foist the culture of using cost of transportation by lawyers and parties in court as a basis for transfer of a matter from one State to another.

“This country cannot move forward if the judiciary does not come out to say we must be firm to do our work.”

On the issue of independence of the judiciary, the governor observed that this has been narrowed to the ability of the judiciary to control its capital fund and overhead.

Governor Wike noted that the judiciary may have all the money in the world and still not be independent.

He insisted that what should be of importance to judicial officers is whether they are given the necessary liberty to discharge there constitutional duties in accordance to the law.

The governor advised the two newly sworn in judges to use their energy to advance the course of justice and refuse to be intimidated.

“Whatever you believe that is right do it. It doesn’t matter who is involved. Don’t be intimidated by the federal government.”

Governor Wike, directed the State Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Professor Zaccheus Adangor (SAN) to expeditiously issue the two judges the Certificate of Occupancy of their official residence.

“It will be proper for us to know how many more judges they will appoint by next year so we will be able to build houses for them now and keep it ready” he added.