Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, has flagged off the construction of the Rivers State Judges Quarters, with a call to other state governments to emulate the Rivers State Government by embarking on similar projects.
Performing the groundbreaking rite of the project yesterday, the CJN lauded the state government for initiating and embarking on the project.
He said: â€œTo say that I am very happy to be here because the judiciary which is my primary constituency is being recognised and given its due by a government that feels concerned about the plight of judicial officers.
â€œI feel happy that this is a positive change which is very much desired by all. I am here today because I believe in the project. And because I share in the dream. Also because I equally have the support of the federal government to pursue similar projects for the federal judiciary.â€
While expressing happiness to be associated with the event, he noted that the project would help judicial officers focus on their constitutional roles.
Onnoghen stated that the project would give judicial officers a sense of belonging and the clear indication that they are appreciated by the society.
In his remarks, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, said the groundbreaking of the project exemplifies how his administration treasures the judicial branch of government and proves that the administration is a covenant-fulfilling government.
He said: â€œMost of us can still recollect the awful state of the stateâ€™s judiciary before we took over the levers of governance. Apart from the heresy of closing down the courts for nearly two years, the immediate past administration never, for a moment, cared about the well being of judicial officers.
â€œAnd so when we sought to replace that horrible regime, we promised to rebuild and strengthen the stateâ€™s judiciary in all its nuances as well as improve the working conditions of our magistrates and judges to enhance effective justice delivery in the state.â€
The governor stated that his administration is already achieving its goal of making Port Harcourt a judicial hub through the construction of a Federal High Court, ongoing construction of National Industrial Court and the total rehabilitation of the dilapidated Court of Appeal.
Wike emphasised that his administration remains committed to the welfare of judicial officers in the state. He noted that the state government has already provided judicial officers with vehicles and decent working environment.
He said: â€œToday, we have started the process of delivering on the first phase of our promise to provide decent residences for judicial officers with the construction of 20 purpose-built five-bedroom duplexes with service quarters and recreational facilities in this exclusive estate.
â€œThe need for this project is self-evident. Providing houses for judges in a safe, secure and serene environment gives them the privacy and comfort that they need to effectively discharge their functions.â€
The governor added: â€œIn the allocation of official residence for life in Port Harcourt, all the judicial officers of Rivers State origin serving with the federal judiciary will also be provided with cars just as we have done with the stateâ€™s judicial officers and magistrates.â€
The governor urged the judiciary to be independent-minded with the courage to act on the side of justice without any limitation, improper influence, inducements, pressures, threats or interferences from any entity or for any reason.
Also speaking, Chief Judge of Rivers State, Justice Adama Iyayi-Laminkara, described the project as historic.
She said: â€œThis demonstrates the commitment of the state Governor to the infrastructural development and welfare of judicial officers.â€
The Rivers State Judges Quarters consists of 20 units fully detached five bedroom duplexes, service quarters in planned and landscaped serene environment, filled with lush vegetation and green.
The judges quarters will have sports facilities, energy centre, water treatment plant and it sits a total area 4.1 hectares.