courtIt was a moment of joy for members of the Bar and the Bench in Rivers State, yesterday as their courts, which were shutdown for one year by the administration of former Gov Rotimi Amaechi were reopened by Governor Nyesome Wike.
Although, no serious activity took place in the courts, some excited lawyers and judges told Nigerian Pilot that full judicial activities will begin today.
When Nigerian Pilot visited some State High Courts, their premises were opened as early as 8am. Some lawyers who did not go to the Government House chambers for the swearing-in of the Acting CJ were seen in groups discussing the opening of the courts and their ordeals during their closure.
While lawyers awaited the arrival of the Chief Judge, the offices at the High Court were being cleaned by some workers.
Some elated judges briefly went into their offices and left to enable the cleaners do their work. Nigerian Pilot further observed that some sections of the court buildings require repairs as their ceilings had collapsed while the roofs were leaking.
Lawyers, who reacted to the reopening of the courts, expressed joy over the development. Barr Chukwuka Angus described the action of the governor as a restoration of hope for litigants and the rule of law in the state.
Angus, who is the spokesman of the Port Harcourt branch of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, used the opportunity to call on those who have resorted to self-help as a result of the closure of the courts to start filing their processes.
Another lawyer, Enaanobulodio Ezekiel Sotonye, thanked the governor for reopening the courts. He lamented the hardship they went through as a result of its closure.
Meanwhile, the newly sworn-in Acting Chief Judge of Rivers State, Justice Daisy Wotube Okocha, has vowed to restructure the state’s judiciary in order to restore its dignity.
Justice Okocha, who made the pledge at a brief ceremony to mark the reopening of the courts and as well her appointment, charged all judiciary workers, judges, magistrates and lawyers to be of good conduct. She declared that her leadership will have zero-tolerance for corruption.
“I will strive to raise the standard of the judiciary in the state and there will be zero-tolerance for corruption,” she said.
Earlier in their goodwill messages, Mr. OCJ Okocha, SAN, Mr. Rufus Godwin’s, Solicitor-General of the state, as well as the Chairman of the Port Harcourt branch of the NBA, Mr. Dennis Okwakpam, decried the hardship lawyers went through during the period the judiciary was shutdown.

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