On Friday, Gov. Simon Lalong of Plateau urged state judges to be firm when handling kidnapping and rape cases.
During his swearing-in, Lalong advised the new President of the Customary Court of Appeal, Justice Sati Dapit, and five other judges of the Government House High Court, Jos.
Justices Naankwat Shaseet and Buetnaan Bassi are the new High Court Judges.
As Customary Court of Appeal Judges, Justices Pauline Njar, Edwin Sati Munlang and Georgina Dashe were sworn-in.
In handling rape cases, the governor said firmness was required as victims are left helpless and with health challenges, while kidnapping cases scare investors away.
He expressed surprise that, considering the severity of their alleged offenses, the rape and kidnapping suspects were given bail.
Lalong said there were security threats to give bail to such suspects.
“When I met with stakeholders recently, concerns were raised about prosecution of suspects who are arrested for kidnapping. Some of them, we understand, do not get to be arraigned as when due and even get released without charge despite evidence tendered to law enforcement agents.
“While we are addressing the issue with the police relating to arrest, investigation and prosecution, I want to appeal to our judges to be very firm in trying such cases when brought before them, as kidnapping is fast becoming an industry with no one immune from the menace,” the governor said.
He told the newly sworn-in judicial officers not to be compromised by mouth-watering suggestions or tempted by them.
“I charge the new judges to ensure that they live up to their oath of office in dispensing justice without fear or favour, affection or ill-will.
“That is the only way we can sustain the fabric of our society which we have chosen to predicate on the rule of law and which guarantees the equal treatment of citizens,” he said.
The new appointments were part of the government’s effort to fill vacancies in the judiciary to enable the latter to deal with the backlog of cases, Lalong said.
He pointed out that, amid the job embargo, his administration had given the judiciary permission to hire more than 200 workers, including the related support staff.
“Today’s swearing in of these new judges is, therefore, a positive development as it will close the gap and improve access to justice by all citizens and indeed all those who seek justice in Plateau State,’’ he said.
The Governor stressed that his administration is committed to the rule of law and to ensuring that judicial operations guarantee equality, justice and equity to the citizens of the Plateau, regardless of racial, economic, religious, political and other orientations.
He said that before the end of his term, his administration would complete the new High Court headquarters complex, stressing that it would create an enabling atmosphere for the judiciary to faithfully perform its duties.
Lalong said that, as part of his commitment to building the capacity of the judiciary, he approved the proposal for the training of judicial officials inside and outside Nigeria.
“We hope to sustain this initiative so that our judges will keep abreast of contemporary developments in their profession,” he said.
The governor said that efforts were being made to function separately for the three branches of government, adding that the State Account Allocation Committee (SAAC) was formed as a basis for financial autonomy implementation.
“This we have done despite the fact that formal discussions on the modalities for implementing financial autonomy at the federal and state levels have yet to be concluded and the judiciary is being carried along in this process,” he said.
Justice Dapit, responding on behalf of his colleagues, thanked the governor for the faith bestowed on them to serve God and humanity.
He assured him of their devotion to their obligations and obedience to their oath of office.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN