Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike has lamented the huge wage bill, including pensions in the state that stands as N7 billion monthly.
He voiced his concern because the state received N3.5Billion federal allocation for March. Thus to pay the bill, the state will have to dip hands on the Internally Generated Revenue, IGR.
Wike disclosed this today, Monday, while swearing-in Justice Christy Gabriel-Nwankwo as the substantive President of the State Court Customary Court of Appeal.
The swearing-in ceremony followed the screening and confirmation of Justice Gabriel-Nwankwo by the Rivers State House of Assembly last week.
In a Press Statement signed by Simeon Nwakaudu, Special Assistant to the Governor on Electronic Media, Governor Wike charged members of the Bench at the State High Court and Customary Court of Appeal to work towards ensuring greater stability in the judiciary.
He also advised the judges against the practice of returning case files, saying that they owe the people a duty to litigate on critical cases without fear or favour.
He said stability in the judiciary will lead to more equitable dispensation of justice in line with the provisions of the constitution.
The governor urged the President of the Customary Court of Appeal and the Chief Judge of the State to cooperate in the interest of the development of the judiciary.
”Today, we have been able to fulfil our promise to the people of Rivers State as regards stabilising the judiciary. We have a female as the Chief Judge and another woman as the President Customary Court of Appeal.
“I urge you to work together and improve the stability we already have in the judiciary “.
He assured the judiciary of financial Autonomy, but pointed out that allocations to that arm of government will also be affected by the economic downturn.
“He explained that the salaries and pensions bill of the government is almost N7b, while the state received only N3.5bn this month.
“He said the implication is that the Rivers State Government will augment these statutory payments through her internally generated revenue.”
Responding, the President of the Customary Court of Appeal, Justice Christy Gabriel-Nwankwo thanked Governor Wike for the opportunity to serve.
She assured that she would work within the law to improve the dispensation of justice in the state.