Rivers Governor Nyesom Wike has described the decision of the Federal Government to deduct states’ funds at source for states’ judiciary under the Executive Order 10 as illegal and ill-advised.
The Governor insisted that implementing such decision would create more problems and hamper the independence of the judiciary.
Wike, who spoke during a special court session organised to mark the opening of 2020/2021 legal year of the Rivers judiciary in Port Harcourt on Friday, argued the action of the Federal Government was another clear breach of the constitutional powers of the governors to manage state resources in a federal system.
He said the Federal Government could not legitimately claim to be more interested in the progress of state judiciaries than the Governors.
He said the independence of the judiciary was not only about finances but also the ability of judicial officers to write judgments without the fear of being harassed by officers of the Department of State Services (DSS) or the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC).
Wike said while the issue of inadequate funding of the judiciary had prevented the arm of the government across the nation from enjoying practical autonomy and efficiency, the situation in Rivers under his administration had been different.
The governor, however, took a swipe at the Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Port Harcourt branch, Prince Nyekwere, for alleging that some persons were extra-judicially killed by the military in the aftermath of Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) murder of six soldiers, four policemen, and destruction of all police stations and court buildings in Oyigbo.
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He wondered why the NBA that was yet to make a formal submission to the Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up by the State to probe the atrocities of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) would without evidence allege extrajudicial killings in Oyigbo.
The Governor lauded the Chief Judge, Justice Adama Lamikanra for her illustrious service and commitment to the progress of the judiciary in the state.
He said people opposed her elevation as the Chief Judge based on her status as a non-indigene, adding she had vindicated the government’s decision to support her appointment.
He said: “As the Chief Judge, you have been honest, effective and transformational. Under your leadership the judiciary developed effective cooperation with the executive and the legislative branches of government to secure, strengthen and advance the administration of justice.”
Lamikanra lauded Wike for providing the state judiciary the needed funds to ensure people have unhindered access to justice.
She condemned the destruction of all court buildings in Oyigbo by members of the outlawed IPOB, describing it as a setback for dispensation of justice.