Obaseki declares 2020/2021 legal year open, backs judicial autonomy, reforms
The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki on Friday reassured that his administration will sustain ongoing reforms in the judicial system, noting that he is in full support of the independence of the judiciary.
Obaseki disclosed this while addressing members of the state judiciary at the opening of the 2020/2021 legal year.
According to the governor, “As a government, we are not opposed to the independence of the judiciary, and we believe that the judiciary should be properly funded.
“Unfortunately, the judiciary is like other arms of government that has been affected by the drastic decline in revenues accruing to this country due to the decline in oil revenues and economic effect of COVID-19.
“As a government, since I became the governor of this state, we have not withheld funds due to the judiciary or any arm of government and the records are there.”
Obaseki continued: “The budgeting process in our country and our state is very defective. The challenge is to have a proper budgeting process which plans on what we have. When that is done, some of the current conflicts about funds being withheld would be resolved as it would become quite obvious that funds are not being withheld but do not exist in most cases.
“Even at the executive level, we suffer challenges of short funding just like other arms. What we have done is to undertake very painful reforms and begin to utilize technology in reducing the cost of operations and I will like to recommend that to the judiciary.”
“We are looking at ways to resolve the seven months’ salary arrears owed the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), but I cannot resolve the issue by violating the law. We must find a legal way to resolve it,” he advised.
Earlier, the Chief Justice of Edo State, Hon. Justice Esther Edigin, commended the executive for facilitating the establishment of a small claims court, launched in March 2020, to enable a thriving business environment.
“My vision for Edo judiciary continues to be a robust judiciary that has zero tolerance for corruption; a judiciary that is able to hold its own in the separation of power equation with other arms of government.
“We will continue to appreciate the efforts of Governor Godwin Obaseki aimed at completing and commissioning the High Court C edifice.”