GOVERNOR Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State has said timely delivery of justice was vital to the health of the justice system and how it was perceived by the public from which it derives its ultimate authority. Okowa who stated this at a Special Thanksgiving Mass to mark the beginning of the new legal year held at the Emmanuel the Saviour Catholic Church, Asaba, said the Judiciary has to continue to find ways to deliver justice in a timely, transparent and equitable manner.
The Governor who was represented by the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Chief Sheriff Oborevwori, said: “As you prepare to enter the new year, what is clear is that the judiciary has to continue to find ways to deliver justice in a timely, transparent, and equitable manner.
Hence, as I said three years ago, it behoves on you men of the bench, wig and silk to, as a matter of exigency, interrogate the use of interlocutory injunctions and the requests for adjournments so that they do not obstruct or delay the course of justice. “It may sound trite but the reason we have to keep saying this is because it is so vital to the health of the justice system and how it is perceived by the public, from which it derives its ultimate authority.
“On our part, we have continued to do the needful to consolidate on the achievements of this and previous administrations to put the judiciary on a sound footing that will enable it to function optimally and without any encumbrance. In the course of the 2019/2020 legal year, we appointed five new High Court Judges and three Customary Area Court Judges.
“We recognise the need to fill vacancies as quickly as possible so that the cause of justice is not hindered through inadequate manpower. It underscores this administration’s resolve to build capacity in the judiciary, enhance the process of justice delivery, and provide a conducive working environment for our Judges/support staff”. Okowa who took the first reading from the Book of Isaiah 32: 15-18, said “some mischief makers whose stock-in-trade is to cause confusion and fan the embers of disunity, had wrongly accused the government of not appointing Judges to man the various judicial divisions in the State. Saying that;
“It is important that people get themselves properly informed so that they don’t mislead the public and heat up the polity unnecessarily”, he said High Court Judges were appointed by the State Government as stipulated in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended. He, however, held that appointment of Judges in the States was at the instance of the National Judicial Council. He said; “Unless the Council recommends the appointment of Judges, the State Governor cannot do otherwise.
The Delta State Government would have loved to appoint more Judges to man all its Judicial Divisions but it cannot do so unless the National Judicial Council makes such recommendation”. “Since inception, the administration has embarked on a massive renovation of Courts and Judges Quarters in order to bring them to a modern standard. In 2019/2020 Legal Year, the renovation of Judge’s Quarters in Oleh was completed and is already in use. In addition, contracts were awarded for the construction of Magistrate’s Court, Onicha-Ugbo; Magistrate’s Court, Uwheru; Renovation of Magistrate’s Court Building, Sapele, Renovation and restructuring of High Court 1 and 2, Sapele and Renovation of borehole Water Supply Scheme for Judges Quarters, Koko.
“In the 2020/2021 Legal Year, the Delta State Government has completed the Construction of a Gate House, Generator House, reconstruction of the perimeter fence, and landscaping of Judge’s Quarters in Sapele”, adding that “the contracts have also been awarded for additional renovation works at Judge’s Quarters, Ughelli, renovation of High Court Building, Oghara and renovation of High Court Building, Orerokpe.
“As many of you here may be aware, we have already awarded the contract for the renovation and construction of the new High Court Complex that was torched during the EndSARs protests. This and other projects will continue to receive priority attention from this administration. I assure you that this administration is determined to build a judiciary that we can all be proud of”.