Okafor Ofiebor /Port Harcourt

Governor of Rivers Nyesom Wike has accused the National Judicial Council, NJC of intimidating judges warning that the development may affect handling of cases related to the 2023 general election.

Wike spoke while swearing in four new judges of the Rivers State High Court at Government House, Port Harcourt on Friday.

The governor said if judges, who are committed to upholding the rule of law and giving judgement on the merit of the case before them, are not protected by their colleagues, they will remain victims of intimidation.

He said he regretted the inability of the nation’s judiciary to always protect their judges.

Wike said with the peak of political activities to set in in 2022, there will be an increased level of intimidation of judges.

According to him, most political gladiators will always want to have their way in every legal matter that involves them and never believe judgement to be against their prayers before the court.

But Wike pointed out that when judges know that their colleagues will rise in their defence, they will be courageous to handle cases, including political matter without shying away.

“If what is going on now is not stopped by NJC, I can assure you no political matter will go before any judge and that judge will have any courage to handle such matter.

“The intimidation by NJC on these judges is quite alarming and I have to say it clearly, if you don’t give your judges support to do what they’re supposed to do, then let us better forget that in 2023 that we will have it easy.

“From next year (2022), it will be very turbulent and so matters will come before judges, allow them to dispense the matter the way they think it is. That is why there is always an appeal.

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“But the moment any judge gives a decision, we politicians we must always write petition.That you cannot take away. No politician losses any case and thinks that there is nothing that went wrong.”

Speaking to the new judges, Wike asked them to be serious with their job, promote a healthy work culture and avoid needless adjournments that delays the time taken to dispense with cases.

The governor urged them to understand that every office and position have associated challenges and it behooves of them to strive to be the best possible they can be.

“But frankly speaking, yes, you’ve been appointed as a judge, but again there are responsibilities too. Some of you were private legal practitioners, two of you were former chief magistrates. As private legal practitioners, you’re used to blaming judges of not sitting on time, of not being serious with their work.

“But by the grace of God, you have joined the league so that you’ll begin to sit on time and then take your work very serious, and make sure that judgements are given the way you wanted it when you were private legal practitioner.

“When a date is fixed, there should not be excuses to say that the judgment is not ready. Make sure that there is no unnecessary adjournments when judgement are fixed to be given.”

The four new judges are Popnen Sylvester Sunday, Daketima, Gabriel Kio, Chinelo Chidubem Odili and Nsirim Chinwe Amanda.

Before their elevation, Justice Popnen S.Sunday and Justice Daketima G. Kio were both private legal practitioners, while Justice Nsirim and Chinelo C. Odili were Chief Magistrates.

Meanwhile, Wike has also announced the cancellation of the new year banquet of Rivers as part of the measures to contain the further spread of coronavirus in the State.

According to him, there is already an alarming figure of not less than 100 cases recorded daily in the State.

Governor Wike said his administration has already urged churches to reduce the number of worshipers to 50 percent.

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