By Agbaragu Timothy
Delta State Chief Judge, Justice Marshal Umukoro, has inaugurated the state Judiciary Funds Management Board, in Asaba, less than two weeks after the commencement of the ongoing nationwide strike by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria for Judiciary autonomy.
Also constituted was a nine-member committee of the Departmental Funds Management.
The chief judge stated that the inauguration of the board and committee was in pursuant to Sections 3 and 8(1) & (2) of the Delta State Judiciary Funds Management ( Financial Autonomy) Law, 2019.
The law was enacted by the Delta House of Assembly in 2019, and was assented to by the Governor of Delta State, Senator, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa in March 24, 2020.
Justice Umukoro, who is the Chairman of the Delta State Judiciary Funds Management Board, told members that the objective of the law was to ensure accountability.
According to him, it was also to ensure transparency, effective and efficient utilization of funds accruing to the state judiciary as provided by Section 121 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 ( as amended.
The provision grants financial autonomy to the state judiciary by providing that funds accruing to the Delta State Judiciary from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the state be paid to heads of courts.
The function of the board, according to him, included to consider the manner in which funds of the judiciary accounts were applied for the services and administration of the Delta State Judiciary; submit quarterly reports to the Chief Judge; set, approve and amend monetary threshold for the judiciary; and approve and award all contracts, procurements and services above #10, 000, 000.00 ( Ten Million Naira ) only.
While section 8 (3) of the law provides that the Departmental Funds Management Committee shall perform its functions on all contracts, works, services and procurements in the state judiciary up to the sum of #5,000,000.00 ( Five Million Naira) only.
“It is my hope that the members of the board and the committee will take this assignment with all sense of responsibility and ensure that funds are diligently applied for the overall good of the state judiciary.
“There is no doubt that the public, especially stakeholders in the administration of justice will be expecting a change for the better in the infrastructural facilities in the judiciary and general welfare of judicial officers and support staff.,” he admonished.
He charged members of the board and committee to shun every corrupt tendency or any act capable of bringing shame and dishonor to the name of the state judiciary, cautioning that anti-corruption agencies were on the watch.
The Delta State Judiciary Funds Management Board has the State Chief Judge, Justice Marshal Umukoro as chairman while Acting President of the Customary Court of Appeal, Justice Patience Elumeze is the vice chairman.
Other members are Chief Registrar, Customary Court of Appeal, Mrs. B. Ojeikere; Secretary ,Judicial Service Commission P. I. Uzonitsha, D. G. Delta State MultiDoor Court, C. N. Onyekwe, Director of Finance and Supply, High Court Mr. A. E. Onwatogwu; Director, Finance and Administration, Customary Court of Appeal I. Egbo; Director of Litigation, High Court J. C. Mrs. Edonwonyi and Augustine Chinenye Chiejina.
The Chief Registrar, High Court of Justice, Barrister O. Aforkeya is to serve as the Board’s Secretary.
For the Departmental Funds Management Committee, the Chief Registrar High Court Obomejero Aforkeya and Chief Registrar, Customary Court of Appeal, Mrs. B. Ojeikere are the chairman and vic chairman, respectively.
Other members are Secretary, Judicial Service Commission Barrister Paul Uzonitsha, Director of Finance and Supply High Court, A. E.Onwatogwu; Director of Personnel Management, High Court, P. I. Idollo; DFA Customary Court of Appeal, I. Egbo; DPRS Customary Court of Appeal, Mrs. V. A. Aigbe and Director, DSMDC Mrs. A. Egbuchua.