AUSTIN OYIBODE, EDITOR
The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) has raised the alarm over alleged marginalization of the Ijaw people of Delta south in the appointment of judges to head various courts in Delta state.
In a statement signed by President of the Ijaw Youth Council, Barrister Oweilaemi Pereotubo and made available to Emeraldng.com, IYC expressed total displeasure over the development saying the state judiciary is being hit with nepotism and sectionalism.
According to him: “The composition of the Bench in the state does not reflect the time tested federal character principle. The appointments into the judiciary is lopsided, skewed to favour some parts of the state.
“Delta state as a multi-ethnic state is a microcosm of the larger Nigerian federation, thus the composition of government of the state ought to conform with the provisions of the 1999 constitution (as amended).
“In the state judiciary, the Ijaw ethnic group which is the second largest ethnic nation is being sidelined with the judicial appointments.
“From the high court down to the magistrate court as well as the customary and revenue courts, hardly one Ijaw man is being appointed either as a judge, magistrate or chairman of customary courts.”
The IYC president said the state has a total of thirty judges but only two are from the Ijaw ethnic nationality.
He said Urhobo has 14 judges, Aniocha/Oshimili has 5 judges, Ika three judges, Ndokowa 2, Itsekiri 3, Isoko two while Ijaw has 2 judges.
He said in the customary court of appeal, Itsekiri one, Isoko one, Anioma two, Ijaw none and Urhobo none. In the revenue court with 21 judges, Ijaw has one, Urhobo 10, Isoko two, Itsekiri two and Anioma nine.
Barrister Oweilaemi added that in the magistrate with 104 magistrates, Ijaw has only four.
According to him, the observed anomalies are inflicting pain on the minds of the Ijaw people, describing it as the worst apartheid regime in the judiciary in Delta state.
He said: “We regret to let the world know that the government of Delta state did not feel the presence of Ijaw people in the state. A cursory look at the ongoing appointments of High Court judges in the state will prove us right.
“In the provisional list being circulated in the media, no Ijaw person made the list. Out of 12 persons shortlisted from the Delta south senatorial district, no Ijaw person is considered. IYC did not see this discriminatory and segregative policy of the state government as a coincidence. We see it as a deliberate move to sideline Ijaw people in the state.”
He thereafter called on Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to revisit the anomalies with a view to correcting the wrongs in the appointment so as to allow it confirm with the plurality of ethnic groupings in the state.
“We reject the so-called provisional list in its entirety. Sidelining Ijaw people in the distribution of government programmes will not serve the best interest of the government. Our areas produce the bulk of wealth for the state. Why should we be treated below the belt?, Barrister Oweilaemi queried.