Uduaghan Challenges Judges, Others To Make Integrity Watchword

BY FIDELIS EGUGBO/ANDY AKENI/SAM DUVWODE
Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, has challenged Judges and public officers to make integrity their watchword in the discharge of their duties.
Dr. Uduaghan gave the charge yesterday in Asaba at the swearing-in ceremony of Justice Marshal Umukoro as the acting Chief Judge of Delta State.
According to Governor Uduaghan, integrity and commitment to duty should not be sacrificed as their positions were for the benefit of humanity.
“Let me appeal to all judges, indeed, all public officers to always demonstrate commitment, loyalty, integrity and support in the discharge of their responsibilities”, he said, adding, “It is mainly in this way, that we can leave a legacy of selfless service on the sands of time”.
He disclosed that the appointment of the acting Chief Judge which followed the retirement of Justice Abiodun Smith as the Chief Judge of Delta State followed due process, reiterating, “In considering this appointment, due consideration was given to seniority, personal integrity, wealth of experience and proven record of performance”.
“I am convinced that this appointment will enrich the Judiciary in the state”, Dr. Uduaghan said, noting, “the transition from one Chief Judge to the other in the state is always smooth and this is very smooth”.
The Governor stated that “the independence of the judiciary remains sacrosanct and will be protected and respected at all times, today’s ceremony demonstrates this administration’s commitment to quick dispensation of justice”.
While congratulating Justice Umukoro on his appointment, Governor Uduaghan urged him not to be influenced and be guided by the principle of fairness, honesty and integrity in the discharge of his duties.
Responding, Justice Umukoro thanked Governor Uduaghan for the appointment and assured Deltans that he will discharge his duties without fear or favour and called for the support of Judges and other stakeholders so as to move the Judiciary forward.
Meanwhile, Dr. Uduaghan, yesterday said the state government so much believed in the rule of law and accountability hence the bill on financial autonomy of the judiciary was signed into law.
The Governor, who was represented by his deputy, Prof. Amos Utuama, SAN, during the Special Court session to mark the retirement of the Chief Judge of Delta State, Justice Zai Smith from the service of the state judiciary after attaining 65 years of age, challenged persons in positions of authority to emulate the positive attributes of Justice Smith that have enhanced the development of the state.
While pouring encomiums on Justice Smith, he pointed out that the retired chief judge contributed to the widening of the channels of dispute resolutions, when he established a Multi-door court hall to take care of cases outside the normal court. He emphasised that by doing that, he encouraged investors to the state who in turn, enhanced the state’s economy.
Also, the governor said Justice Smith used his opportunity as Chief Judge of the state to advance the administration of criminal justice thereby helping to fight crime by speedy dispensation of justice in criminal matters. According to him, there were times when kidnappers and armed robbers made live unbearable for the people but with speedy trial of criminal cases, many of them were put behind bars while peace returned to the society.
In the same vein, the state governor also lauded the former chief judge for fighting for the financial autonomy for the judiciary which the state government has since signed into law.
In emphasising the position of the state government in the financial autonomy for the judiciary,, the governor said the state government believed so much in accountability, the rule of law and quick dispensation of justice hence the state government did not hesitate to sign the financial autonomy bill for the judiciary into law.
The governor, who described the former chief judge as an incorruptible, humble, hard working, sincere and upright man, prayed God to guide him in his future endeavour while urging those to take over to emulate these laudable virtues.
On his part, the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Charles Ajuyah, SAN, said the tenure of Justice Smith as Chief Judge, witnessed growth in the judiciary when he demonstrated that he is not only a cerebral Jurist but an administrator.
“I say with all sense of responsibility that during his administration the executive and legislative arms believed in the rule of law and independence of the judiciary and this brought respect to the judiciary and the fundamental right of the citizens”, he said.
T.J Okpoko and Barr. Gene Mowah, who spoke on behalf of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, and the Nigerian Bar Association respectively, said, Justice Smith has retained his respect through hard work and sincerity, adding that while in office he contributed immensely to the growth of the judiciary.
While thanking him for being a shining example to the incoming generation, they noted that the legal profession, Delta State and indeed Nigeria, are proud of him.
Earlier, while welcoming guests to the occasion, the incoming chief judge, Justice Marshal Umukoro, described Justice Smith as a hard working judge whom they have learnt a lot from.
In his response, retired Justice Smith thanked all and said there is a purpose for every being and a season for all homo sapiens. It is time to depart and if we do not meet again, the parting is being well made.
He used the opportunity to once again call for the full implementation of financial autonomy for the judiciary by complying to the provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.