By Laleye Dipo in Minna
The Niger State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, has expressed “absolute commitment” to granting autonomy to the three other arms of government — the judiciary, local government and the legislature.
Governor Bello made the commitment in Minna on Monday at the swearing-in of a new Chief Judge for the state, Justice Ahmed Bima.
Justice Bima was sworn in following the retirement of Justice Maria Dzukogi at mid night of Sunday after putting in cumulatively 40 years service in the Ministry of Justice and the Judiciary.
Governor Bello said his commitment to autonomy was hinged on the fact that all the arms of government should be given unfettered freedom to perform their functions without any arm going to the other to beg for funds.
According to him, autonomy by all arms of government would also entrench democracy and democratic principles in the country with the ordinary man being the end beneficiary.
The governor noted that the Judiciary was granted partial autonomy last year but that it failed to follow up in the presentation of the 2019 budget which he said should not be blamed on the executive
He therefore asked the Chief Registrar to work in concert “with relevant authorities” to ensure subsequent budgets of the judiciary captured all capital and recurrent estimates.
He said the problem with the judiciary in the state was not the making of “my administration, I inherited dilapidated courts, courts without furniture, we started making efforts to change the situation”.
Governor Bello commended the former Chief Judge for the judicious use of resources provided the judiciary, saying: “I tested the Chief Judge when I gave her money for the renovation of courts. I realised that she spent the money judiciously. There was this court that was dilapidated and abandoned for over 30 years, she has turned it to a new building, that is how things are supposed to be done.
“She never came to me for anything personal. Anytime she made request it was on behalf of the entire judiciary.”
He therefore advised the new chief judge to discharge his duties without fear or favour and shun interference from any quarters.
In her valedictory speech, the former chief judge of the state said 22 courts were renovated within two years, while the Chief Registrars’ office was connected to the internet.
The former chief judge added that a multi door court house had been completed and furnished in line with modern trend in “dispute resolution mechanism”, pointing out that the staff to work in the new unit had been trained.
Mrs Dzukogi pleaded for the adoption of “an alternative dispute resolution mechanism”, which she said “will greatly help in more acceptable dispute resolution solution apart from reducing the backlogs of cases”.