Delta State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, has charged Judges of the state’s judiciary to continue to maintain a high level of professional integrity, fairness and credibility in the dispensation of justice.
Okowa gave the charge at a valedictory court session to mark the retirement of Chief Judge of the state, Justice Marshal Umukoro, held yesterday at High Court 1 Complex, Asaba.
He said that the advice was necessary as it would go a long way in helping the judiciary to retain the confidence of the people, adding that he was, however, proud of the judges in the state.
Okowa congratulated Justice Umukoro for his achievements in the six years of his headship of the judiciary in the state administration, and stated that he was truly excited about the achievements recorded by him during the period.
He said that there was a need for a robust and sustained partnership between the executive and the judiciary on one hand and the legislature on the other hand so as to accelerate the tempo of socio-economic and development of infrastructure in the state.
He reiterated that his administration had institutionalised the autonomy of the judiciary in the state for the smooth-running of different arms of government without interference.
On the ongoing new High Court building in Asaba, Okowa assured that he would provide more resources for its completion before the end of 2021.
While pledging to work with the in-coming chief judge of the state, he noted that the outgoing chief judge eminently distinguished himself as a jurist.
“My Lord, the Chief Judge, I want to first of all, thank you on behalf of my wife and my family for your friendship and brotherhood that you extended to my family.
“Here, I have witnessed a lot said about you. A book has been written concerning you – a 78-page book on what you have been able to achieve in the course of time.
“Mine is to congratulate you on your great achievements and to let you know that as a family and as a government, we are excited, we are happy that you have achieved this much.
“I am not surprised because you grew under the tutelage of a lot of people. We thank you because of the services you have rendered, not only to us as a state but also to our nation.
“In the last six years, you never put me under pressure as governor, you never asked for too much but I have always respected your opinion. I thank God that you have achieved this much,” the governor said.
In his speech, the outgoing Chief Judge, Umukoro, said that his 35 years of service and his elevation to the pinnacle of his career was made possible by God and his dedication to duty.
Umukoro advised his successor to be versatile, to run an all-inclusive administration and administer with the fear of God.
While thanking Governor Okowa and his wife, Edith, for their support in the last six years, he urged judges to extend their cooperation to his successor so as to achieve set goals.
On her part, the most senior judge in the state, Justice Theresa Diai, described Justice Umukoro as an accomplished jurist who used his 35 years of service to enrich the judiciary at the state and federal levels.
Diai chronicled the achievements and inputs of the outgoing chief judge and said that the valedictory court session was to herald his retirement from the high court bench after attainment of 65 years.
In their separate goodwill messages, the Functioning Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Mr Omamuzo Erebe; Chief Thompson Okpoko and the Chairman of Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Asaba Branch, Mr Austin Eze-Eseagwu, said Umukoro was bowing out of service after giving his best to the state and the nation.