Politics

History as Imo swears in first female Chief Judge

* Governor Uzodinma assures judiciary of autonomy

From AUSTIN ECHEFU, Owerri

History was made yesterday as Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma swore in Hon. Justice Ijeoma Agugua as the first female Chief Judge of Imo State.

AbeyaNews reports that by this development, Imo has become the third South East State, after Enugu and Anambra States, to appoint a female Chief Judge.

In June 2018, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi swore in Justice Priscilla Ngozi Emehelu as the first female Chief Judge of Enugu State.

Enugu was closely followed by Anambra where Hon. Justice Ijem Onwuamaegbu was sworn in March last year as the first female Chief Judge of the State.

Speaking at the searing-in ceremony in Owerri yesterday, Governor Uzodinma expressed his resolve to give the judiciary a pride of place in Imo State, promising that the judiciary would be autonomous under his administration.

“The judiciary is an important arm of government and if our democracy must grow with its attendant dividends, we must have an efficient judiciary,” Senator Uzodinma said in reference to the strategic importance of the judiciary in a democracy, especially in a fledgling one such as Nigeria’s. “This is why every government must take seriously the leadership and membership of the judicial arm of government.”

Calling for synergy and cooperation among the various arms of government, the Imo Governor added: “I am not unaware of the little bickering here and there in the past. The past government in the state could not foster a robust relationship with the judiciary. In my own time, it will be different.”

Congratulating the Acting Chief Judge on her appointment, Uzodimma charged her to improve on the achievements of her predecessor while driving new ideas that would take the state’s judiciary to greater heights.

Assuring Justice Agugua of his unflinching support, Uzodinma charged the new Chief Judge to ensure that Imo Judiciary becomes the best “under my watch”.

“I will give you all the necessary support to ensure that you have an outfit worthy of commendation,” he reiterated.

In her vote of thanks, Justice Agugua applauded Governor Uzodimma’s ‘keen sense of justice and gender-friendliness’.

“You have today used your office faithfully in accordance with the spirit and intendment of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and your Oath of office,” Agugua declared, promising that “in conformity with the Oath I have just subscribed to, we judicial officers and staff of the judiciary of Imo State will dispense justice to all manner of persons without fear or favour, affection or ill will…We will build a strong and virile judiciary committed to institutionalizing judicial reforms that will ensure speedy dispensation of justice. I will therefore provide the needed leadership.”

Dignitaries at the occasion included Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Chiji Collins; Chief Judges of Enugu, Abia and Ebonyi States; former Chief Judge of the State, Hon. Justice Paschal Nnadi, President of the Customary Court of Appeal, Hon. Judges from the judicial divisions of Imo, Anambra, Enugu, Ebonyi and Abia, among others; House of Assembly Members; Commissioner nominees; traditional rulers; Senior Advocates; Magistrates as well as Chairmen of customary courts.

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