Delta Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, on Monday, commended the judiciary for its contributions to the development of the state, saying it had been remarkable.
Okowa gave the commendation at a valedictory court session in honour of the retired President of Customary Court of Appeal, Justice Patience Elumeze, at the new High Court Complex, Asaba.
He expressed appreciation to the judiciary for the great support it had given to his administration since 2015, noting that he had had a very cordial working relationship with the judiciary.
He said that whatever his administration achieved was as a result of the peaceful and cordial working relationship among the three arms of government in the state.
“I want to appreciate the judiciary for the great work it has been doing. In the last eight years, I have had a very cordial working relationship with the judiciary and whatever I have been able to achieve is as a result of this peaceful and cordial working relationship,” he said.
While congratulating Justice Elumeze for having a successful career in the legal profession, Okowa implored her to devote her retirement life to the service of God and humanity, and congratulated her on her
65th birth anniversary.
“I want to appreciate you and thank God for your life. I also truly want to appreciate the works that you have done and I feel very proud of His Lordship that is retiring.
“In the words of the Chief Judge of Delta State, she has described His Lordship, Hon. Justice Onuwa Elumeze, as somebody who is truly amazing, disciplined and hard working.
“The only thing I found not so interesting was that she was afraid to take up her duties when it came to the issue of Judicial autonomy. This is because at several times, she would come to me for approvals.
“And, I will say to her that the judiciary is already autonomous and that she has the powers to manage the funds of the judiciary now in our state.
“But, we thank God that we are all getting use to it now,” Okowa said, and wished Justice Elumeze success in her future endeavours.
On the low number of Judges in the state, the governor said that he was told that there was a rule restricting the number not to be more than 40 per state.
“We are trying to cause an ammendment to be made in our laws, to enable us request for more judges in our courts. I hope that in the course of time, we would be able to get more judges appointed for our courts,” he added.
On the state High Court Complex, the governor said that the project was no longer under the supervision of the Executive, but with the judiciary.
“The High Court complex project is no longer under the supervision of executive arm; it is in the judiciary. The Chief Judge has done her best and I have done mine. But unfortunately, the Judiciary has not been able to push the contractor harder than they have done, to deliver the job.
“At a point, we had to do what ordinarily we would not do by further advancing money to the contractor. It is not normally done in the process of contract award and execution but we had to do that to speed up the job.
“It was my desire that this project was completed by December, 2022 but it is lingering and l do not know whether it will be completed before l leave office.
“I believe that the fault is neither that of the Chief Judge nor that of my office. We hope that the contractor will quickly finish it.
“In terms of funding, we have remained committed in funding the project but also very unfortunately, is the fact that there has been a lot of inflationary tendencies in Nigeria today.
“I think that that has also caught up with the contractor even when we had to review the contract along the line,” Okowa stated.
He disclosed that his administration remained one of the first to operationalize the judicial autonomy in the country and sued for symbiotic relationship between the three arms of government for maximum performance in terms.
In their separate remarks, Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Isaiah Bozimo; the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Theresa Diai and the representative of the Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) in the state, Mr Charles Ajuya as well as the Chairman of Asaba Branch of the NBA, Mr Precious Nwadimuya, noted that Justice Elumeze had made invaluable contributions in the legal landscape of the state.
While describing the retired President of Customary Court of Appeal as an asset in the nation’s judiciary, they wished her a happy retirement life.
In her speech, Justice Elumeze said she was glad to bow out of service after a sterling career in the bench since 1983 and pledged to use the remaining years of her life for the service of God and humanity.
She commended Governor Okowa, Justice Roseline Bozimo, Justice Stella Ogene and Justice Marshal Umukoro for their support in her legal career while also x-raying the reforms, human capital and infrastructural transformation that she brought into the state judiciary in her tenure.
She advocated for improved welfare package for judges, and harped on the need for seniority and respect to be maintained among judges.
At a thanksgiving mass held earlier at Emmanuel the Saviour Catholic Church, Asaba, in her honour, Revd. Fr. Israel Dibia said every position was a privilege to render quality services to God and humanity.
He said that Justice Elumeze gave her best while in service and prayed God to grant her good health and longevity in retirement.
The Thanksgiving mass was attended by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and his wife, Edith, the Deputy Governor, Mr Kingsley Otuaro and other top government functionaries.
Elumeze was sworn-in as President of Customary Court of Appeal in the state on June 29, 2021.
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