Governor Wike announced the grant at the inauguration of Justice Mary Odili Judicial Institute, which was performed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Olukayode Ariwoola, on Friday.
Also inaugurated was the Federal Judicial Service Commission, South-South liaison office in Port Harcourt.
Governor Wike pointed out that availability of money is important for the institute to start its operations immediately after the inauguration.
“I have made my budget presentation and it was not included. I’ve told the Commissioner of Finance, now that the budget has not to be approved, to make sure it is included in the 2023 budget.
“But to start for now until next year will be released, we are making a grant to them of N500 million so that the institute can start immediately and so that we can have the full benefit ”
Governor Wike observed that the National Judicial Institute (NJI), which is saddled with the responsibility of training judges and magistrate yearly has the challenge of carrying capacity.
He said this means that not every judge and magistrate billed for the continuous training exercise will be lucky for admission in any current year of such request.
Which is the gap, Governor Wike emphasized that the Justice Mary Odili Judicial Institute has come to fill, so that judges and magistrates can regularly access training and education opportunities in Nigeria.
“Actually, if Nigeria is operating a true federal system, there is nothing wrong for States having their own judicial institute that will train judges who, of course, apply the laws, preside over matters that affects the State and business around here.
“But we thank God today that the federal government through the CJN has approved it. What we are doing is to complement the efforts of NJI.
“We are not taking over the functions of NJI. We are only complementing, so that our own judges will be ahead of other States.”
Governor also informed that the Justice Mary Odili Judicial Institute will be willing to accommodate other judges and magistrates that will be referred to it by NJI and train them free of charge.
“We can also allow them free of charge to come for training here to reduce the financial implication of sending most of the judges in the South-South to go to Abuja.
Speaking further, the governor Governorate on the need to amend the Judicial Institute Law No. 8 of 2021 establishing the Justice Mary Odili Judicial Institute to strengthen its operational and financial independence.
“For us, it is not only a Judicial Institute, in fact, I’ve called the attention of the Attorney General to it. And from what the Chief Judge read today, I will seek for amendment by Monday because there are so many things I’m not too comfortable with.
“Because I want a body that, of course, you’ll have a supervion but it will not look like the supervision that will hamper the working of the institute.
“I want where the institute will be just like you have the arbitration court, you have the family court and the rest where budget is being made for them. There will be a different budget for this institute so that we know that it is working.”
Governor Wike explained that the institute is named after Justice Odili, a renowned jurist of Rivers State extraction, who ranked as the first to have risen from the magistracy to the Supreme Court of Nigeria and returned with an unblemished record of service.
He explained that the land where the Justice Mary Odili Judicial Institute is located, beside the State Judiciary Complex was formerly owned by the default Nigeria Airways.
According to him, the delipidated and abandoned buildings there became a hideout for criminals, hence the decision of the Rivers State government to acquire the property and use it for the public good.
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