1. His Excellency, the Deputy Governor of Nasarawa State;
2. The Right Hon. Speaker, Nasarawa State House of Assembly;
3. The Hon. Chief Judge of Nasarawa State;
4. Principal Officers and Members of the State House of Assembly;
5. Members of the State Executive and Security Councils;
6. The Secretary to the Government of Nasarawa State;
7. The State Chairman, All Progressives Congress (APC);
8. Special Advisers;
9. Permanent Secretaries;
10. His Royal Highness, Alhaji (Dr.) Isa Mustapha Agwai I, CFR, Emir of Lafia and Chairman, Nasarawa State Council of Chiefs;
11. Chairmen and Chief Executives of Commissions, Boards and Parastatals;
12. Chairmen and Directors of Personnel Management of Local Government Councils;
13. Your Royal Highnesses, Emirs and Chiefs;
14. My Dear Appointees;
15. Gentlemen of the Press;
16. Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is with a sense of duty and responsibility
that I address you today on this auspicious occasion of the Swearing-in of:
(i) Three High Court Judges;
(ii) Head of Civil Service;
(iii) Special Adviser to the Governor on Establishment and Industrial Matters.
2. It is heartwarming to acknowledge the presence
of the array of invited guests, associates and well-wishers of the appointees
and other stakeholders at this occasion. It is an indication that our
choice of the appointees enjoys overwhelming support of the populace and, indeed, is in the best interest of our collective aspirations.
3. Ladies and gentlemen, following recommendation
by the National Judicial Council and based on the powers conferred on me by
Section 271(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as
amended), I approved the appointment of three High Court Judges.
I should add that the appointment of the Members of the Bench was informed by, first, their role in the judiciary and, second, the pivotal contributions of the judiciary as an arm of Government in the task of building an egalitarian society.
4. Indeed, it is in recognition of the role this important arm of Government plays in the dispensation of justice that this Administration always ensures that the Bench is occupied with competent judges that can truly serve as the last hope of the common man.
5. It is for this reason that Government does not
hesitate to ensure that the Judiciary enjoys independence and autonomy in its
unique responsibility of dispensing justice which, must at all times, be guided
by adherence to due process. Perhaps, I should take the liberty of this
occasion to comment on some unsavory development in the Judiciary which calls
for immediate attention. I note with grave concern the unnecessary and often
times unjustified granting of exparte orders at the
slightest prompting; the slide to ethno-religious sentiments as against the
balanced intellectual reasoning which the Judges apply in judgments; the
emergence or existence of a Judiciary connected cartel, especially in the Karu axis that connive with land grabbers to usurp and convert
Government land for self-aggrandisement, the gradual
descend from a robust
jurisprudential expose’ to lazy pedestrian conclusions that neither provide justice nor does it contribute to the pristine intellect Judges are known for.
6. The situation is made worse by the intellectual laziness of most of our lawyers in this jurisdiction, especially the State Counsel, who don’t go a step further to test the efficacy of these questionable judgments through Appeals from the Court of Appeal and indeed up to Supreme Court. This, perhaps, explains why we have less number of Senior Advocates in Nasarawa State. It is for this reason, that, henceforth, Government will be taking two (2) approaches to stem these abuses of judicial oath by firstly, appealing these judgments and, secondly, where we strongly suspect abuse, we will lodge a formal complaint to the National Judicial Council (NJC) and the Legal Practitioners Privileges and Disciplinary Committee (LPDC).
7. As I speak, we have already assembled a number of legal experts who are currently studying some judgments that appear compromised and passed in the last two years to enable Government make a strong case aimed at reprimanding the Judges involved or be made to face appropriate disciplinary sanctions, if found wanting. A typical case in point is an arbitral sitting where the Petitioner’s claim is for N20 million, the Arbitrator who is a former Judge awarded the claimant N150 million as damages citing his justification on dollar fluctuations; it is a trite law, even known to the common man, that the Court is not a father Christmas and cannot award what a claimant did not sought for. While not blaming the Bench alone, our State Counsels are equally complicit in this direction because most times they willfully neglect to do the needful of filing their responses within the stipulated time allowed by the appropriate rules of the Court and where they do, their responses are usually bereft of legal reasoning, thus exposing Government which is it primary client, to ridicule. Government is proactively taking steps to ensure appropriate sanctions on such lawyers. Let me reiterate that Government will not be paying salaries for its Counsel, while they go on a frolic of their own to collude or connive with our legal adversaries towards a determined conclusion.
8. Another area of so much infractions is the lower Bench. I urge the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to take a closer look at their activities. Judicial Service Commission over the years routinize its operations only with respect to promotions, placement and or postings of personnel at the lower Bench. There must be a paradigm shift to inculcate real disciplinary measures for erring members of the lower bench. We have a number of documented issues/complaints from the people affected by this miscarriage of justice which, the Hon. Attorney-General will forward to the JSC for its consideration. As a corollary to this, I urge the Chief Judge in conjunction with the JSC to replicate what the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) did by constituting a Committee on Anti-corruption to stem the tide of abuse of office and sundry infractions.
9. I have observed that the lower bench has taken for granted Government’s policy of appointing Judges of superior courts from their ranks and therefore resort to legal brigandage, consequently, Government hereby directs the JSC, to as a matter of policy, henceforth open the doors to private legal practitioners as well in future appointment exercises so that we can have a competitive process, and perhaps this will make Judges in the lower bench sit up.
10. Let me, however, assure you that Government on its part will continue to live by its constitutional responsibility of funding the Judiciary and providing the enabling environment to dispense justice in spite of the judiciary becoming its own enemy. As you are aware, Government is set to construct a new High Court complex but the ground breaking ceremony has been shifted three times because of consistent garnishee orders that drew a large chunk of the funds meant for the project. I will, on a lighter mood dare say, this is a case of judiciary being its worse enemy! However, in spite of this self inflicted harm, Government is determined to lay the foundation stone of the multi-million naira new High Court Complex immediately after this ceremony. The new complex will comprise the Chief Judge’s Chambers and court room, additional offices for Judges, the Registry, Exhibit rooms, library, cloakrooms and other smart facilities that will make the judiciary internet compliant for efficient justice delivery.
11. Ladies and gentlemen, as you are all aware, following the retirement of the Head of the Civil Service penultimate month, it became imperative to fill the vacuum created. The appointment of the new Head of Service, therefore, is to fulfill this righteousness and, in doing so, Government was guided by procedures and other considerations in the best interest of the service in appointing a person with the desired resourcefulness and experience to occupy the Office. In selecting the new Head of Civil Service, therefore, we are as usual, guided by our principle of due process and meticulousness with a view to enhancing efficiency and effectiveness of the service. The appointee, was, thus, chosen based on his integrity, bureaucratic experience and, above all, commitment to the Nasarawa State project.
12. Concomitant with this, we have also appointed
a Special Adviser to the Governor on Establishment and Industrial Matters. Our
gesture in this direction is to strengthen industrial relationship that will go
a long way in bridging the gap between Government and the organised
labour in the State. As you are all aware, the new Special Adviser had a successful tenure, as the immediate Head of Civil Service during which he brought unity in the service and created industrial harmony between the Government and Labour in the State. His last assignment as the Head of Civil Service was the anchoring of a training workshop towards enhancing the capacity of workers in the Public Service. It is my hope and, indeed, expectation that the Special Adviser on Establishment and Industrial Matters will complement the Head of Service in consolidating this existing mutual Government/Labour interface for the benefit of the State and service.
13. You will recall that I also approved the
appointment of the Executive Secretary, Nasarawa
State Christian Pilgrim Welfare Board. Although, the appointee is not part of
the swearing-in ceremony, let me say that Barr. Musa Aloko
as a former Administrator and accomplished lawyer, Government is not in doubt
that he will bring his experience to bear in the discharge of his
responsibilities and also give the Christian Pilgrims Board a new direction of
14. Ladies and gentlemen, let me reiterate our
commitment towards the welfare of our workers. As I have always said, without a
conducive working environment for workers, Government
policies and programmes will hit a brick wall. This
is so because civil servants are the foot soldiers who ensure that the policies
and programmes of Government are implemented to the
letter. It is for this reason that we have never left any stone unturned to
ensure that the Nasarawa State workers are paid their
salaries in full, in spite of the dwindling resources accruing to the State.
Let me, however, point out that the delay in the payment of the September
salary is not deliberate, nor is it to witch-hunt the workers. The current
exercise in respect of the salary
is aimed at sanitizing the system in line with the principles of transparency, accountability and probity in our fiscal policy.
15. At this juncture, let me congratulate the new appointees for your well-deserved appointments. As you assume your new offices, I charge you to bring to bear your wealth of experience, professionalism, accountability, probity, honesty and integrity in the discharge of your duties. Only in this way will you be able to justify the confidence of Government on you and achieve the objectives that we have set to attain for the benefit of our people.
16. On this note, I once again congratulate the appointees and welcome you on board in the service of Nasarawa State.
17. Thank you and God bless.