Delta Governor and Vice-Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP, Senator (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa, has said that the state government was prioritising access to justice as part of efforts to expand and broaden justice delivery in the state.
He stated this at the second meeting of the Body of Attorneys-General of States of the Federation held in Asaba on Thursday.
Represented by the Deputy Governor, Mr Kingsley Otuaro, Okowa said that the meeting was taking place at a crucial time in the country’s history as the nation was in the electioneering season.
He stated that in order to broaden access to prompt dispensation of justice, his administration had sent three Executive Bills – Delta State Administration of Civil Justice Bill 2022; Delta State Administrative Procedure Bill 2021 and the Delta State Administration of Criminal Justice Bill 2022 – to the House of Assembly.
“In my administration’s effort to build capacity to enhance staff efficiency, the Ministry of Justice has embarked on a series of training programmes for its legal officers in the areas of Arbitration, Legal Drafting, Case Management, Civil Litigation and Information Communication Technology (ICT).’’
He said that his administration was irrevocably committed to the financial autonomy of the Judiciary and the Legislative Arms of Government “hence I signed into law the Delta State Judiciary Fund Management (Financial Autonomy) which is a critical step for the independent control of the judiciary’s internal fiscal management and appropriations’’.
“I remain resolute in support of the notion that judicial finance should be free from executive interference because agitating for the rule of law will be a mere lip service without a guarantee of independence for the judiciary,” Okowa stated.
He urged the chief law officers to deliberate on ways to further contribute to the development of their States and the country, especially in the area of poverty eradication through legislation, to combat the causes of poverty in the society.
Chairman, Body of Attorneys-General of States of the Federation, Mr Moyosore Onigbanjo, said that the judiciary played an important role in the development of the nation, noting that without the instrumentality of the law, the nation would be in chaos.
He said that judges had kept the nation together through various pronouncements in the courts and through the laws passed by Attorneys-General at both Federal and states level.
“The role of the Attorneys-General in the life of our nation cannot be over-emphasised, given their role in ensuring that justice and fair play take pre-eminence in our nation.
“In pursuit of a better society for the governed and the governors, the Attorneys-General had to meet regularly to cross-fertilise ideas to brainstorm and to review processes to ensure equity, justice, fairness and equality before the law are met,” Onigbanjo stated.
He called on the attorneys-general to speak truth to power and ensure that they offered right advice on what the position of the law was regarding certain thorny issues.
According to him, where there is justice and fairness, agitations will be a thing of the past knowing that justice will be available to all.
In her remark, Chief Judge of Delta, Justice Theresa Diai, lauded the cordial working relationship between the Delta State Judiciary and the Office of the Attorney-General and called for more interaction between the Attorneys-General and Chief Justices of the states’ judiciary.
On his part, Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in Delta, Mr Isaiah Bozimo, said that deliberation at the meeting would further the ideals of the nation’s democracy.
He added that issues concerning Value Added Tax, Stamp Duties, Lottery and Gaming and other issues would be discussed at the meeting.