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Obaseki Promises to Abide by NJC’s Decision on Three Judges Excluded from Swearing-in, enumerates achievements in Judiciary - TELL Magazine

Obaseki Promises to Abide by NJC’s Decision on Three Judges Excluded from Swearing-in, enumerates achievements in Judiciary

The Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, has explained that the delay in swearing-in new judges in the state was as a result of petitions written against the nomination of some of them being investigated by the National Judicial Council, NJC.

Swearing in five judges to the bench of the State High Court on Friday, Governor Obaseki said it was necessary to critically examine the complaints against the judicial officers in order to strengthen the judiciary by making the right choices. He said the state government would comply with the decision of the NJC on the affected judges.

Recall that in June 2023, the NJC had appointed eight judges to fill the vacancy in the Edo State judiciary but the governor, who was not satisfied with some of the appointments, refused to swear them in until Friday when five of them were sworn in. While Justices Obayuwana Osarenren Mathias, Ehinon Anthony Okoh, Ovenseri Otamere, Bright Eraze Oniha and Osayande Ikwuemosi Awawu were sworn-in, Justices Edoghogho Eboigbe, Ojo Maureen Osa, and Godwin Jeff Okundamiya, were excluded from the exercise.

Addressing the judges at the ceremony held in Government House, Benin City, the governor also chronicled his achievements in that arm of government.

According to Governor Obaseki, “It is with delight that today I am swearing-in five additional judges to the bench of the Edo State High Court. When I came into office in 2016, one of the commitments we made was to strengthen the judiciary. This is because of its role in the democratic process. As a government, we are going to ensure that we support the judiciary.

“Let me start with the latest reform which is, for me, assenting to the law providing for the autonomy of the judiciary. I believe that we are one of the few states in Nigeria today that have signed the bill of the autonomy of the judiciary into law.

“It is going through a learning curve; but because we believe in the independence of the judiciary, we have demonstrated our commitment to holistic reforms by enacting that law. We would work with the Chief Judge and members of the judiciary to continue fine-tuning the way and manner in which the laws are applied.

“You are all witnesses to the infrastructural upgrade which we have begun in the judiciary – from providing court rooms, especially in Benin City, to more accommodation for Judges. In the development plan we are currently designing, we have enshrined, and have ensured that within the five years of implementing the new Edo State Master Plan, the infrastructural development for the judiciary would be completed.

“In line with the other reforms which we are undertaking in the state, we are encouraging the judicial arm of government to take advantage of the digital infrastructure that the state is currently investing in as we have built over 2,000 km fiber optic connection across the state. We now have digital infrastructure in every area where we have a High Court. Please take advantage of the investment made.

“I thank the Chief Judge for the support he has continued to extend to the executive. I know that the swearing-in of judges that we are experiencing today had raised quite a few issues. As part of our intention to reform the entire arm of government in Edo State, when we get complaints or petitions that some of our choices will not go well to strengthen the judiciary, I believe it is important to take a step back and re-examine the petitions critically. This is what has happened in this case.

“We are currently waiting on the National Judicial Commission (NJC) to let us know the outcome of its decision on the other judges we have received petitions on, and we will comply with the decision of NJC.

“We congratulate the judges being sworn in today. They are lucky as they are likely to spend more time in the service because of the extension in the retirement age. We wish you well and hope you will always do right to all cases brought before you.

Speaking on behalf of the new Judges, Osayende Ikwuemosi Awawu, said, “We are going to do our jobs and perform our duties to the best of our ability.”

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