BY: Nick Nwaneri, Calabar
Cross River state governor, Senator Ben Ayade has inaugurated members of the state Judicial Welfare Review Committee, pledging to do everything within his powers to improve the welfare of the state’s judicial officers.
He charged the members of the committee to be diligent in their assignment and turn in their report within two weeks..
The Committee has Retired Justice Eyo Effiong Eta as Chairman and the state’s Head of Service, Timothy Ogbang Akwaji as Secretary.
Other members of the five-man committee include the state’s Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Tanko Ashang, Justice Syvelster Obi (Rtd) and Justice Francesca Isoni.
Performing the inauguration at the Executive Council Chamber of the Governor’s Office, Calabar, the governor said: “On behalf of the government and people of Cross River state, I hereby inaugurate you today. I charge you to discharge your duties without fear or favour, be firm and just and be above all interests.
“I charge you to reflect on the income of the state , the sincerity of our commitment to improve and make recommendations that are achievable. I don’t want recommendations that become impossible for me to implement but I want recommendations that when I look at the minimum, there is an improvement of what federal government is paying to their judicial officers. We want to set a minimum national standard for the country.
“Give me a report that clearly analyses the dire pains that your people go through and make recommendations that is a classical departure from the past yet sufficient enough for me to achieve.”
According to him, “the welfare of our judicial workers have become a critical issue. As a state we don’t have all the money but we don’t do it because we have but because we care , so you don’t give because you have enough but you give because you care so even from nothing you can stretch your hands”
The governor listed accomodation, welfare, vehicles, fuel, diesel support for the homes, personal security among others as things judicial officers should have without stress.
“I have seen that the responsibility and role of judicial officers in this state and this country at large is so dangerous…they take decisions that affect the lives of people who might come back and seek revenge on them, yet they are so unprotected, not fed properly or taken care off.
“When a judge is in the situation where he drives one car from 10 – 15 years , when his salary has been fixed for almost 20 years, it’s shameful. This is a huge challenge and I think it is unacceptable. Cross River State may not have but we are committed to improving their lives”, he stressed.
Outling the importance of judiciary in a participatory democracy, Ayade said: “The reality is that you are the ones that stabilize the system; when the other two arms of government are in trouble you help to settle. Any how you look at it at every point in time your role is very important. So you ought to be the most secured arm of government from my understanding of law.
“So without the ability to interpret the law, maintain peace and security in the country or in the state by way of your judicial pronouncement then we will have a lawless society.”He recalled his efforts since assuming office to make judicial workers in the state comfortable.
“Let me state quickly that I was sworn into office with the judiciary completely on strike and since I came into office you have not been on strike. We are not perfect , we are not where we want to be yet but there has been a dramatic improvement. I met N3 million naira and you know where I moved it to and I have not defaulted but I think that we can still do better.”
Responding, on behalf of the other members, Justice Eta, promised a thorough job: “On our honour we promise that we shall do our best. Your Excellency, I want to assure you that what we have said we will do we will do it to our best abilities”, he said.