Like President and Governors, Bishop advocates immunity for CJN
By Jon Egie
The Bishop of Ughelli Dioces, Anglican Communion, the Rt Revd Cyril Odutemu PhD has called for a legislation that would grant immunity to the Chief Justice of Nigeria.
The call was contained in his Presidential Charge delivered during the first session of the 8th Synod of the diocese held at the St Luke’s Anglican Church, Otovwodo-Ughelli; Monday, April 29.
Sequel to recent cases of harassment meted to Judges across the country over allegations of corruption, the bishop observed that if the situation is allowed to further fester, members of the Bench could be cowed to do the bidding of the government in power and thereby erode the democratic principle of checks and balance of power among the three arms of government.
He therefore called on the Legislature to urgently enact a law that would protect the Judiciary from infractions that are likely to put Judges in fear and give judgments that only save their jobs and not the common interest.
“The office of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) and that of every state should be granted immunity for the period they serve to avoid undue interference from all quarters.
“An amendment of the Constitution should be done so that Judges at the apex office at federal and state levels are secretly investigated but their trials delayed until they finish their tenure like presidents and governors” he suggested.
Speaking on the outcome of the 2019 general elections, the bishop noted that Nigeria witnessed retrogression in its electoral value as the 2019 elections were unduly militarized and the dignity of the military lowered.
He also frowned at the way the academia have plunged their dignity and scholarship into the pool of mud because of financial benefits that accrued from electoral exercises.
While appreciating the federal government’s efforts in the construction and development of the rail system of transport in Nigeria, he called for the commencement of the Lagos-Port Harcourt rail line as the route is a major economic hub of the South-South and South-West and sued for speedy connection of the Aladja-Ajaokuta rail line to Abuja to enable citizens of the South-South and South-West enjoy the sense of belonging to the Nigeria nation.
Bishop Odutemu further noted that despite the commercial value of Warri to the economy of Nigeria especially with huge resources generated from crude oil, Warri, which airport project started way back before many cities in Nigeria were yet to own an airport, was yet to be upgraded to standard for patronage of heavy aircrafts and hence, called on the Delta state government and the Federal Government to upgrade the Osubi airstrip to full airport that would positively affect the economy of the area.
Focusing on Delta state, the bishop commended Gov Okowa for the prevailing peace and unity in the state for the past for years and encouraged the state government to further engage all stakeholders and the youths to maintain and improve on the gains achieved so far.
He expressed delight at the move by the Okowa administration to develop rural areas across the state and upgrade of education facilities. He however, pleaded with the Delta state government to thoroughly supervise every project so as to guarantee durability of those projects.
The bishop expressed worry and sympathy over the fate of senior citizens of the state who had served and retired meritoriously but were yet to receive their gratuities, years after disengaging from service and called on Gov Okowa to urgently address the issues of pensioners and pay them their entitlements as many of them are dying without enjoying the benefits of their labour.
He gave kudos to Gov Okowa for regular payment of salaries of public primary school teachers and council workers and urged him to sustain the tempo.
But he observed that the embargo on employment into the state civil service would have adverse effect on the economy of the state and urged the state government to open windows of employment opportunities for the youths to fill the spaces vacated by the aged, retired and dead civil servants in the state.
The bishop took time to do justice to the theme of the synod, “Dwelling in the secret place of the Most High: A panacea for destiny invasion”.