By Adebisi Adeyemi Lagos, Nigeria
REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, NYESOM EZENWO WIKE, CON, GOVERNOR OF RIVERS STATE ON THE OCCASION OF THE FORMAL COMMISSIONING OF THE FEDERAL HIGH COURT COMPLEX BUILT AND DONATED TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF NIGERIA BY THE RIVERS STATE GOVERNMENT ON THURSDAY 19TH MAY 2017 AT THE FEDERAL HIGH COURT PRMISES, PORT HARCOURT
It is my pleasure to welcome all of you, especially the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Hon. Justice Mohammed Auta, and all other Honourable Justices, lawyers and also, all other invited guests that are here to celebrate with us as we commission the newest and finest Federal High Court building in the country.
2. When we assumed office about two years ago, we reckoned that strengthening the judicial system to secure the rights of our citizens was a prerequisite for good governance.
3. We further considered that making Rivers State a regional judicial hub was a good and practical way to engender and accelerate social and economic development.
4. We therefore resolved not only to complete all stalled court projects but also, to initiate new ones to meet the increasing demand for judicial services by our people.
5. In a country such as ours, where the justice delivery system is pretentiously federal but manifestly unitary, our quest for having the most modern and advanced court houses and justice system cannot be completely achieved if we limit our judicial transformation agenda only to State Courts.
6. This is part of the reason behind our inclusive and non-discriminatory policy thrust of providing modern court buildings and necessary operational support to Federal Courts at enormous financial cost to Rivers taxpayers.
7. Apart from the growing demand for judicial services, the material jurisdiction of the Federal High Court is very strategic to the socio-economic progress of our State and the citizens. Theeconomic and social objectives for building this courthouse are therefore, unassailable.
8. Apart from the call to duty, we were further motivated by s the enduring aspirations of our people to live in a State where everyone, irrespective of status, station, or nationality have equal access to a justice sector that offers, guarantees and dispenses fair, efficient, and transparent justice based on the rule of law.
9. All over the world Courts exist to serve society by advancing the cause and the ends of justice. This being so, the judicial officers who preside over these courts must have all the comfort that they need to function effectively and responsibly discharge their judicial responsibilities without let or hindrance.
10. Providing adequate infrastructure therefore, constitutes a strong pillar of judicial transformation and this is exactly what we have achieved with the features in this new courthouse – an ultra-modern purpose-built facility with very spacious, adequately furnished courtrooms, chambers and sanitary facilities for the comfort and convenience of judges, lawyers,litigants and members of the public.
11. With this Courthouse, the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt is greatly empowered for greater efficiency and expeditious consideration and delivery of justice to our people.
12. And so, as State Government, we are proud to have built this magnificent courthouse for the Federal Government and for all Nigerians as a testimony to our patriotism and commitment to the peace, security and unity of our beloved country and the wellbeing of the citizens.
13. Let it also be known that we have built this courthouse to serve and advance the public interest and not to satisfy any other self-promotive motives. Accordingly, we have fulfilled our duty as leaders who mean well for our country and its progress.
14. All that we ask in return is for the Federal Government to provide for the regular care and maintenance of this building so that its functionality is preserved for the use of the present and future generations.
15. Let me assure every one of us that, just as justice is said to be blind, so is our development objectives and programmes.
16. We would similarly deliver the National Industrial Court building for that Court to commence judicial services in Port Harcourt in the next couple of months.
17. At such a time when the Nigerian judicial system is going through grave existential and reputational challenges, the least we can do is to support it to reinvent itself and bring about a qualitative change that we all need in the justice delivery system.
18. Nevertheless, let us not forget that the generality of Nigerians still have great trust and faith on the Nation’s judiciary as the last hope of the common man.
19. Although this trust is often eroded and displaced by perceived cases of judicial corruption, the misbehavior of a negligible few shouldn’t warrant wholesale denigration of the entire judicial system.
20. Certainly, hunting and hounding a small band of targeted judges to prison in Gestapo style even before allegations against them were investigated is more of a political witch-hunt than practical strategy to browbeat the judiciary into submission.
21. This nation must find better ways of fighting judicial and other corruptions with all the seriousness they deserve within the framework of the rule of law instead of entertaining the gullible public with a phantom and tendentious actions against corruption.
22. As the former President of India, Dr. Radhakrishnan rightly cautioned:
“If people lose respect for law and respect for the courts which administer law, it will be a bad day for us. It is essential for the country to respect law, for the Government of the country to respect law and for the courts to maintain the sanctity and purity of legal administration and dispensation of justice. That is absolutely necessary, if the rule of law has to be continued in this country as it has to be continued.”
23. It is my patriotic prayers for all men of courage and goodwill, irrespective of partisan affiliations to intervene to stop the present cascade into hell before we all lose our liberties to an emerging civilian dictatorship that is increasingly becoming intolerant of political opposition.
24. On this note, May I restfully call on the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Honourable Justice Mohammed Auta, OFR, to proceed to inaugurate the new Court building to the glory of God and the advancement of the administration of justice.
25. Thank you for your attention and May God bless us all.