BY CHUKWUMA NNAM
Nyesom Wike, the governor of Rivers State has vowed to implement the ‘no work, no pay’ order in the state over protesting judicial workers.
He said on Thursday that the no work no pay implementation is imperative adding that the continued industrial action has grounded the state’s judiciary as it is happening across the country.
Wike said: “If FG wants autonomy of the judiciary, how can such a government say the courts should be shut down for almost two months now? Which country can survive when its courts are shut down for two months?”
“Under a federal system of government, it is only the executive arm of government, at all the tiers, that has the powers to present the annual budget to either State or National Assembly and also signed it into law.
“The new narrative that a presidential implementation committee has been set up and will direct governors to sign budgetary allocations for the judiciary is purely unconstitutional.”
According to the Governor, Rivers State Government has fully implemented autonomy for both her judicial and legislative arms with releases of financial entitlements as captured in the budget up till 2021.
Funds released by his administration to the state’s judiciary, he stressed, far exceeds the planned deductions by the FG, adding that his administration was not owing parliamentary workers who are currently on sympathy strike.
“Already, the no-work no-pay policy has come into force in Rivers State and all judiciary and parliamentary workers cannot sit at work and expect salary anymore”, he declared.
On the motivations to provide judges with official residences, Governor Wike recalled how, in his time as Chief of Staff, he received a midnight call that a judge was locked out of his rent apartment by a landlord.
“From that day, I had this feeling that judges should not be so exposed to such kind of stress that could lead to loss of their life. We have also acquired land to build for judges of the federal high court who are in rental apartments.
“The landlord has told me that they have not paid him for several years. That tells you the kind of autonomy of the judiciary that FG says they believe in. We agree, but the rent of their judges is there, they have not brought the money to pay.”
Inaugurating the facility, Chief Justice of Nigeria, Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, represented by Justice Mary Odili of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, said, “The Wike Model should be holistically espoused and replicated by other governors in the country for rapid development and growth of the Nigerian Judiciary.
“I would love to see this mind-blowing gesture, which I refer to as the emblem of humanitarianism, replicated all over the nooks and crannies of the country with a view to lifting the Nigerian Judiciary out of the current squalor largely inhibiting the seamless and speedy dispensation of justice.”