Kogi Acting CJ Inaugurates Council of Judges, laments poor financial state of the High Court



In line with his promise to hit the ground running in his determination to reposition the State’s Judiciary as pronounced in his inaugural speech during his swearing in as the Acting Chief Judge of the State,
the Acting Chief Judge of Kogi State, Hon. Justice Josiah Majebi, has inaugurated Council of Judges for the High Court of Justice.

He however lamented the poor financial situation of the High Court even as he expressed confidence that the Governor Yahaya Bello led administration would help in arresting the ugly situation if genuinely and sincerely enlightened on the needs of the court.

The Acting Chief Judge made this assertion and also disclosed the creation of the Directorate of Training and Establishment when he met with all the Judges of the lower courts in the state comprising the Magistrates and Judges of the Area Courts yesterday at the Judiciary headquarters in Lokoja.

While acknowledging that adequate remuneration for Judges and staff of the court was important, he lamented the poor financial position of the High Court, hinting that he inherited a huge debit burden owed to corporate organisations and individual lenders and met nothing in the coffers of the High Court.

Indicating however that he intends to run a collective administration with his brother Judges, with him only being first among equals, he said the functions of the Council of Judges were already well spelt out. He said Judges at the headquarters would be performing supervisory roles over the Directorates.

He said decisions taken by the Council would be at the expense of any personal or individual interests or sentiments but only in the best interest of both staff and the institution he added.

He disclosed that strengthening the institution to withstand the test of time was what the Council, which also had its inaugural session before his meeting with the lower court judges, had resolved. The Council’s initiatives would be targeted at preparing a better future for all.

The Acting CJ informed of the resolve of his administration to emplace transparency, accountability, dedication, commitment and professionalism that would be couched on collective engagements for the progress and sustenance of an enduring institution. He said the overall objective was to dispense justice effectively without fear or favour within the ambit of the constitution and the laws of Kogi State and Nigeria under a very conducive environment.

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He also mentioned at the interactive session that no staff of the Judiciary would be denied his or her entitlement just as he demanded for compliance with extant rules, regulations and procedures of the court by every staff to enhance a holistic approach to achieving the Court’s core mandate of dispensing Justice fairly in the state.

While admitting the challenges posed by the poor financial situation of the institution, he promised his determination to ensure transparency in the management of the funds accruable to the Court.

He said the financial status of the organization would be periodically made public while there would be regular meetings with staff through the Judges to evaluate progress made.

“This administration will lay the foundation for collective participation as the involvement of Judges in the council will arrest the issue of policy somersault that we have witnessed recently against the backdrop of the changes in the leadership of the Judiciary. This has inclined to the whims and caprices of those leaders. So contrary to following and adhering to the rules and regulations singularly pronounced by the Chief Judge, the council will be taking far reaching decisions as it has done today.

“We will ensure discipline, ethical compliance, transparency and fairness in our dealings without favour or compromise. The era of lobbying should be jettisoned as that would not be tolerated any more” he said.

On staff disposition list, he said his administration would be proactive in sanitizing the system with a view to ensuring that the organization has an efficient and effective workforce.

“We are aware that our courts are already over staffed and we’ll not hesitate to take courageous steps to reposition the Judiciary not minding whose ox is gored. You should all furnish us with your respective nominal rolls and indicate as well the amount and designations of staff you presume will make your courts function maximally” he directed

On discipline and corruption, he said the situation where seniors are subjected to their juniors due to overbearing influence would soon be corrected as he reiterated that indiscipline and corruption would be tackled head on.

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Steps are to be taken to correct redundancy as he said he was aware that such is obtainable when the courts were already overstaffed. In this vein, career progression would be prioritized after the Court’s nominal roll would have been sanitized.

All Judges of the lower courts were therefore directed to start preparing their hand over notes too as the imminent shakeup in the Management Board of the High Court would also affect them. They were as well directed to indicate judgements they have delivered within the last six months in their reports.

While noting that it’s not going to be business as usual, the Acting CJ warned against lobbying stating that rather than connection, hard work, diligence and commitment to duty would be the yardstick for elevation just as indolence, laziness and truancy would attract the appropriate punishments.

According to Justice Majebi, the purpose of his administration would be to strengthen Judiciary integrity.

“What we intend to pursue during this administration is Integrity, discipline and resourcefulness. These will remain the watchwords of this administration while justice, fairness and transparency will be the guiding principles” he said.

As he admonished staff to eschew rumour mongering, he announced the incorporation of the Chairman of the Judiciary workers union, JUSUN, into the Management Board as a vehicle for properly and adequately informing the generality of staff on the workings of High Court leadership and to douse suspicion amongst staff.

On staff training, he said staff training would take center stage as he emphasized that training and retraining were the essential ingredients to a versatile organisation. He said it would commence with the management members who would be tutored on the pathway to repositioning the state Judiciary. Along this line he redeployed the Director of Personnel Management, Olori Adenike Shittu, to head the new Directorate of Training and Establishment with a view to laying a solid foundation for the Directorate by her injecting her vast knowledge and experience in the new Directorate while the most senior Magistrate Beatrice Ada Ezema was appointed the DPM

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In a related development, Justice Majebi assured the leadership of the Kogi State branch of the Magistrates’ Association of Nigeria, who paid him a congratulatory visit in his Chambers, that their welfare and those of other staff were paramount to him. He expressed confidence in the administration of Governor Yahaya Bello to support the Magistrates and the Judiciary in general as the governor has demonstrated interest in the human and infrastructural development of the Judiciary over the years. He said it was obvious that His Excellency hadn’t much grasp of the different components of the High Court which includes the various divisions of the High Court, Magistrates’ Courts, Area Courts, Inspectorate offices and other administrative segments spread across the state. He said this had adversely affected the High Court financially and it makes funding the High Court fundamentally different from other courts. But he assured that the governor would do the needful if properly and sincerely informed of these peculiarities.

He said in comparison with what is obtained in other States, he had always been passionate about improving Kogi State magistracy and therefore regretted their poor allowances noting that the values attached to the Magistrates by the institution was commensurable with how they were rated and valued by the public.

He thereafter demanded the organization’s input in terms of how best their lacks can be addressed within reasonable resources and time saying if the allocations due to the High Court improves and is properly harnessed, all components of the High Court would benefit from it.

He however warned strongly against corruption and urged Magistrates to shun bribery which he said demeans rather than enhance their status. To him, taking bribe reduces the taker who stakes his integrity by having a price he could be bought because the giver makes foolery of the taker by buying off his integrity to increase his own. He also averred that corruption put the lives of takers and that of their families at risk and should be completely avoided like a plague while warning that necessary actions would be taken against anybody caught in it.

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