Rivers State governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike says it is too early in the day for the Council of Legal Education to ignore the Dr. Nabo Graham-Douglas Campus of the Nigerian Law School in Port Harcourt. The governor wondered why the campus is allowed to suffer a lack of regular provision of electricity and water supply when the Rivers State government had already donated commercial property and N400M take off grant to ensure maintenance of the campus.
Governor Wike made the observation on Thursday at the inauguration of the newly constructed Rivers State Magistrates Court Complex, named after Justice Iche Ndu, in Port Harcourt.
He explained that his administration did not want the Dr. Nabo Graham-Douglas Campus to suffer on the grounds that the Council of Legal Education has not received money from the federal government to cater to such needs.
“When we handed over the Law School to the Council of Legal Education, the (Rivers) State government gave out N400M, and said look, put it in an account for the maintenance of the structures.
“We gave them property that they can use to make money to keep the school. We didn’t want a situation where they will say the federal government has not released money or the money they released is too small.
“We said okay, let the federal government be paying your salaries, take this money to keep and maintain the school. I was told the other day that there was no light, there was no water. I can’t understand our system.”
Governor Wike attributed such attitude to the poor maintenance culture that has pervaded every facet of public life in Nigeria, wherein nobody care enough to maintain public property.
The governor therefore, advised the Rivers State Chief judge not to allow the newly constructed Magistrates Court Complex to suffer such fate.
Governor Wike assured that financial provision will be made, which should cater to the maintenance needs of the complex for at least, the first one year.
“As I am leaving office, in this one year, when I come here, I don’t want to see and hear that it is dilapidated or it has deteriorated it will be unfair.
“So each month, you’ll get N20M to maintain this place. So, we will give you one year (money) in advance so that you’ll keep this place well.”
Governor Wike also told the Chief Judge: “it will be unfair that in your tenure that you cannot maintain this edifice. It will be quite unfair.
“Put it in your budget. I will plead with my successor that he should be releasing this money to you. Let them give it out to those whose responsibility is to keep it clean.”
Governor Wike thanked the president-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for accepting to inaugurate the project which is a fulfilment of another promise he made to Rivers people.
The Rivers State governor recalled that he went to the State High Court premises and saw how congested it was, and the rotational use of available courtrooms because magistrates were accommodated there.
He said it was at that point that he opted to construct a befitting complex fitted with modern equipment for use by magistrates.
Inaugurating the Complex, the President-elect, Tinubu commended governor Wike for the his foresight and love to providing judges and magistrates the best working and living condition.
He noted that with such provision, governor Wike has shown sufficient support to fight against corruption, particularly in the judiciary.
The president-elect stressed that expecting judges to live, operate and dispense justice in squalor cannot immune them from corruption.
“You don’t expect your judges to live in squalor, to operate in squalor, to dispense justice in squalor. This is part of the changes that is necessary in our policy think tank. We must fight corruption and we definitely must look at the other side of the coin. If you don’t your judges to be corrupt, you’ve got to pay attention to their welfare. If you want fair dispensation of justice, you don’t want them to operate in hazardous conditions. Let’s think value for value.”
He assured that his administration when sworn-in will fight corruption in the judiciary by reviewing in a policy think-tank their welfare, and conditions of service.
Tinubu, who commended governor Wike for building the edifice for the magistrates, charged Nigerians to cultivate the virtue of maintaining public assets.
“To the magistrates, I say congratulations. This edifice from the outside is so beautiful and gorgeous. Yes, you have new place, but the governor challenged the conscience of all of us. We have to change our culture of maintenance. That is a local issue, universally accepted.
“But we will fight poverty and we must fight it rigorously. poverty of thinking, poverty of standard, poverty of reasoning like the perversion they gave my story yesterday. That is poverty of thinking.”
Providing the description of the project, Rivers Commissioner for Special Projects, Deinma Iyalla said there are 24 courtrooms in the five two-storey buildings, while the single storey building has a clinic, restaurant and court registry plus a separate generator house.
Chief judge of Rivers State, Justice Simeon Amadi described the project as an uncommon landmark achievement of governor Wike, because he has solved the perennial and overbearing burden of lack of space that magistrates suffered.
On his part, Attorney General of Rivers State and Commissioner for Justice, Prof. Zacchaeus Adangor, SAN, said the project started on 23rd December 2021 was delivered in less then 15 months. According to him, this demonstrates the passion and standard of projects associated with Governor Wike.