Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta has called on judges in the country to discharge their duties with utmost impartiality, courage, integrity and humility and to guarantee justice for all.
Okowa gave the charge at the swearing-in of four new judges into the state judiciary and a member of the state’s Judicial Service Commission at Government House on Tuesday in Asaba.
He also urged the judges to deploy patience and wisdom in the dispensation of justice.
The new judges are Christopher Diai, Obaro Odebala, Mary Gesikeme-Akebofah and Francis Akumagba, while Dennis Agbaga is a member of the Judicial Service Commission.
He said that the judges were appointed in line with procedures enshrined in Section 271, sub-section (2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
He congratulated the appointees on their well-deserved new responsibilities and urged them to consistently demonstrate the proper judicial temperament expected of their offices.
Okowa said that the appointments were made pursuant to the provisions of the law and on the recommendations of the National Judicial Council.
“In the discharge of your duties as judges, you must exhibit the qualities of impartiality, courage, integrity, patience, humility, wisdom, and commonsense.
“Your ethical conduct must be above reproach, bearing in mind that justice for one is justice for all, and you need to prioritise personal development through continuing legal education as a prerequisite for excellence,” he said.
Okowa said that in a constitutional democracy, the judiciary was saddled with the responsibilities of interpreting the constitution, maintaining balance between various organs of government, adjudicating the laws and protecting the fundamental rights of citizens.
The governor said, “in view of the foregoing, it is pertinent that I reiterate my admonition to the first set of judges we appointed in 2018.
“I quote: one of the things you must guard against is the frivolous use of injunctions and the frequent adjournments of cases, which not only leads to delay and congested courts but has also contributed to negative perception of the judiciary in the court of public opinion.
“You have an obligation to see to it that justice is not only served but it is also seen to be served so that the judiciary does not lose the confidence of the public from which it ultimately derives its authority.
“In recognition of the vital and key role that the judiciary plays in the political economy of the nation, this administration has continued to build capacity in the judiciary, enhance the process of justice delivery, and provide a conducive working environment for our judges and their support staff.
“Nothing captures this commitment more than the Judiciary Autonomy Law, putting Delta State among the trailblazers in the implementation of financial autonomy for the third arm of government.”
He announced that the state government had established new High Court Judicial Divisions and Magisterial Districts across the state.
“Aside from building more courts to bring justice proximate to the people and extend the frontiers of legal practice, the present administration has aggressively embarked on renovation and furnishing of dilapidated court buildings across the state.
“Also, equipped the courts with the necessary information and communication technology.
“The new ultra-modern High Court Complex in Asaba is almost completed, and when fully operational will substantially ease the course of justice administration and delivery in the state.
“In terms of manpower, we recognise that we still need more judges to oversee all the judicial divisions in the state. Sooner than later, we hope to fill the vacant positions, subject to the recommendations of the National Judicial Council,” the governor said.
Responding on behalf of the judges, Diai, thanked Gov. Okowa and the state Chief Judge for finding them worthy to serve.
He promised that they would uphold the integrity and sanctity of the bench according to the oath of office they took.
“We are here not because we are better than others but because it is by the grace of God and we, therefore, assure you that we would put in our best to uphold the integrity and sanctity of the bench just as we have sworn to today,” he said.
The ceremony was attended by the Deputy Governor, Mr Kingsley Otuaro, Chief Judge of the State, Justice Theresa Diai and President of Customary Court of Appeal, Justice Patience Elumeze, among other top government functionaries.