Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has stressed the need for fiscal autonomy for the judicial arm of government just as it is for the executive and legislature.
He said this was necessary and important for democracy to thrive in Nigeria.
Governor Diri made the call at a dinner in honour of visiting Chief Judges from the South-South region in Government House, Yenagoa.
His Acting Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, in a statement, quoted the governor as saying the call became imperative considering the significant role of the judiciary in building of a virile society.
His words: “For the judicial arm to play its constitutional role as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigera as amended, it must enjoy fiscal autonomy. I do not see why the judiciary should not enjoy autonomy. I will continue to be an advocate in ensuring that there is fiscal autonomy of the judiciary as enshrined in the Constitution.
“As a product of the judiciary that is noted for honesty, steadfastness and uprightness, if there are no upright judges, I won’t be here as governor of Bayelsa State.”
Diri urged the Judges to uphold the tenets of their profession, adding that if democracy would survive in the country, the judiciary was central to its survival.
“If you remove the legislature from democracy, the answer is a military government. Likewise, if you remove the judiciary, then the answer is anarchy. I don’t think that as we keep marching forward, anybody would want a military government or a state of anarchy anymore in Nigeria.”
In her remarks, the Chief Judge of Bayelsa State, Justice Kate Abiri, said she was delighted when the governor insisted on hosting the visiting Chief Judges despite the short notice.
Justice Abiri lauded the governor and past administrations for their development efforts, which, according to her, has transformed the state and appealed to the Governor to carry on with his advocacy for the autonomy of the judiciary, saying it will strengthen democracy.
“I approached him just a day before to invite him to the dinner in honour of the visiting Chief Judges in my home but instead he insisted on being the chief host. I was glad because I didn’t have the space to take everyone,” she said.
Also, the Chief Judge of Rivers State, Adama Lamikanra, thanked the governor for hosting them and for his positive disposition towards the judiciary.
In attendance were Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Mr. Abraham Ingobere as well as the Chief Judges of Delta and Edo states among other judges and top government functionaries.