By Okafor Ofiebor
Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, on Friday swore in three new Customary Court of Appeal judges in the state, with a charge to the judiciary to ensure speedy dispensation of justice at all times.
The new judges are Dele Okafor, Grace Abanre and Jessica Gberevbie.
The governor congratulated the three judges, and said that their appointments were based on their personal integrity and years of experience and urged them to bring their experiences to bear in the discharge of their duties.
He thanked the Chief Judge, Justice Marshall Umukoro and President, Customary Court of Appeal, Justice Stella Oghene, for their efforts at ensuring that justice was speedily dispensed in the state.
He said that with the appointment of the new judges, the Customary Court of Appeal in the state could now function more efficiently, noting that their number was few and sometimes difficult to constitute a quorum.
Okowa reiterated his administration’s commitment to partnering the judiciary to ensure speedy dispensation of justice, adding that that arm of government would soon begin to operate in autonomous status as the legislative arm.
He said: “We have continued as a state to ensure that we partner the judiciary to ensure that there is speedy dispensation of justice.
“So I must appreciate those who kept the process going until the swearing-in of the new judges of the Customary Court of Appeal.
“There is no doubt that Deltans and Nigerians have continued to yearn for speedy dispensation of justice and I want to appeal to our newly sworn-in judges that they must ensure commitment to the dispensation of justice, equity and fairness in all that they do.
“I know that it’s a difficult job you have been called up to do, but you have been appointed based on your personal integrity and years of experience and I expect that, that will be brought to play in ensuring the speed dispensation of justice.
“There is no doubt that we are in very troubled times at the moment, but I am sure that you should be able to sit in your various courts in line with the COVID-19 preventive protocols that have been put in place by the NCDC and I hope that even in this difficult times that you will be able to attend to the cases that will appear before you.
“As judges, you do know that in all you do, you need to be firm, fair and resolute in the discharge of your duties and I am sure that as judges of the courts of Delta State, we will be proud of the judgements you give and that you give judgements without fear or favour.”
The governor pledged the support of the executive to the judiciary, saying “I want to assure the judiciary that we will continue to support it as much as possible to ensure the functionality of the judicial system in the state.
“It is important that we put on record that as a state, we have passed and signed into law, the Bill granting autonomy to the judiciary in the state and it is our hope that processes leading to the efficient take-off of the judicial autonomy will be put in place.
“I must say that it is something we are happy about and it is something we believe in, because the legislature in Delta has been operating in autonomy since last year and it is my hope that the judiciary should be able to take charge of its activities.
“As governor, I have never had any complaint on miscarriage of justice and this is very commendable,” he said.
Responding on behalf of new judges, Justice Dele Okafor thanked God and those who made it possible for them to emerge as judges, and assured that they would carry out their duties without fear or favour.