The Chief Judge of Abia, Justice Theresa Uzokwe, has declared that she has no official residence, saying “I operated from my private residence”.
Uzokwe, who said this at the opening of the 2016/2017 Legal Year in Umuahia, added that other old judges in the state also have no official residence.
She said that the official residence provided for her in Umuahia was dilapidated and in a state of disrepair.
“That is why I have been operating from my private residence in Aba. Other judges in the state also operate from their private residences or rented buildings in Aba and Umuahia.
“May the government come to our aid on this matter,” she said.
Uzokwe also spoke on the need for independence and financial autonomy of the state judiciary.
“In the civilised world, politicians respect and uphold the independence of the judiciary and will not interfere with it under any circumstance,” she explained.
Uzokwe listed other challenges facing the judiciary in the state to include inadequate court halls for the Magistrates’ Courts and dearth of judges in the Customary Courts.
She called on the government to lift the embargo on employment placed by the immediate past administration adding that the absence of a remand home poses a lot of danger to the under-aged inmates in prisons.
She said that the situation exposes the inmates to many immoral and obscene practices, such as lesbianism, sodomy and sexual abuses, among other social ills.
The chief judge listed the establishment of new magisterial courts as one of the achievements recorded under her administration.
In his goodwill message, Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu, called for concerted efforts by the judiciary to cleanse itself of corruption.
Ikpeazu expressed concern over the recent arrest of some judges on corruption charges, saying that the development was a denigration of the nation’s judiciary.
Ikpeazu represented by his deputy, Chief Ude Chukwu, said that the state government had approved a N45, 000 minimum wage while a committee was inaugurated to consider modalities for the state’s judicial financial autonomy.
Goodwill messages were delivered by chairmen of the various branches of the Nigerian Bar Association in the state.
The ceremony was attended by Commissioner of Police, Mr Leye Oyebade, and the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Bonnie Iwuoha, among others.