The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has appealed to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State to immediately provide official vehicles to the National Judicial Council (NJC) so that the officials already screened and cleared can be appointed and sworn in.
The body of benchers in the state averred that the provision of the vehicles will reduce the pains and sufferings of legal practitioners and litigants, while making preparation for another round of appointment soonest.
The plea was the fallout of the body’s Monthly General Meeting of its Warri Branch, in a statement signed by the chairman and secretary, Chief Oghenero Okoro and S.G Ediagbonuvie, respectively.
The lawyers, among other issues, also decried the decrepit state of judicial infrastructure in the state, urging the next governor to take radical steps in reversing the ugly trend.
The statement reads in part:
“That recently, the National Judicial Council approved the appointments of nine (9) additional judges for the Federal High Court and eighty six (86) others for various state High Courts across the country.
“Unfortunately, our dear State Delta is not one of the states for which the National Judicial Council appointed judges.
“This is despite the fact that we have very acute shortage of judges in the Delta State High Court and the fact that recently, the National Judicial Council screened and cleared five persons for appointment as judges of the High Court of Delta State.
“Investigation by the Branch reveals that the reason the five screened and cleared persons were not appointed among the 86 others from other states is because the Governor of Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa failed, refused and/or neglected to make available the official vehicles of the Judges to be appointed which is a sina qua non for the said appointment and thus, truncated the appointment.
“In other words, the appointment of Judges for Delta State this time around, was frustrated and truncated by the act of Governor Okowa’s failure, refusal and/or neglect to make available the official vehicles necessary for this appointment which is very sad.
“This incident is even the more painful, considering the acute shortage of Judges in Delta State. Presently, many of the High Courts in the state have no presiding Judges resulting in the few Judges we have been perpetually overstretched.
“As a matter of fact, the need to have more Judges appointed in our state is now an emergency and for Governor Okowa to fail to do the needful when we have the opportunity of having some Judges appointed this time, is not only a gross dereliction of his duty but an exhibition of the continued shabby treatment and disregard of the Judiciary as an arm of government in Delta State by the successive Government in the State.
“The Warri High Court building that was deliberately demolished by the state government since 2008, under the guise of constructing a more benefitting one, has remained a hubris of debris despite repeated agitations by our Branch.
“As a result, the Warri High Court has been made to squat in makeshift buildings not befitting of a Magistrate Court.
“It is very painful that the Delta State government is shameless and disgraceful over the state of her judicial infrastructure.
“Most of our Courts have no power generating plants and judges sit in small, crowded and stuffy court halls with many of our Judges carrying hand fans when there is no power supply from the electricity distribution company.
“Our Judge’s official vehicles are arguable the worst in the entire country. While local government chairmen, members of the House of Assembly, Commissioners and political aides of the governor who are in droves and thousands cruise around in the latest Toyota Land Cruisers and Prado Jeeps, our Judges are condemned to Kia Mohaha and Hyundai Tuscon which are not even replaced, even when their state as well as their ages and functionality becomes embarrassing to the status of a Judge.
“We will not even talk about their squalid Chambers which they are forced to furnish at their personal cost to make it manageable. We also will not talk about the case of the Magistrates in Delta State. Their case is simply pitiable.
“Thus, we hereby call on Governor Okowa to, as a matter of urgency, not tomorrow or the day after tomorrow but today, make available the said official vehicles to the National Judicial Council so that the persons already screened and cleared by the National Judicial Council are immediately appointed and sworn in so as to reduce the pains and sufferings of Legal Practitioners and Litigants, while making preparation for another round of appointment soonest.
“We equally hope that whoever will take over from governor Okowa will take radical and surgical steps to revamping the decrepit judicial infrastructures in the state. We cannot continue like this.”
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