•Calls for reorganisation of Court registry
•Obaseki urges FG to decentralise security system
Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
It was torrent of praises and commendations yesterday for Justice Rita Nosakhare Pemu who retired from public service after 29 years on the bench as the presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, Owerri Division.
At the valedictory session held at the Court of Appeal, Benin City, which also coincided with her 70th birthday, Justice Pemu called for reorganisation of the Court Registry as part of judicial reforms and solving courts problems.
She also called for improved security for judicial workers, citing recent killing of court heads in some parts of the country and her kidnap in February last year.
Also, Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, canvased for the decentralisation of the country’s security system to check the level of insecurity in Nigeria.
In their various comments, the President, Court of Appeal Nigeria, Justice Monica B. Dongban-Mensem, who was represented by the Presiding Justice, Court of Appeal, Benin Division, Orji-Abadua Theresa Ngolika said Pemu was one of the justices whose judgments have become references while Ngolika in her remarks said Justice Pemu was reputed for writing her judgments in simple English that makes them easily comprehensible.
The representative the body of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) who also stood in for the Warri Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association, Ama Etuwewe, said Justice Pemu was the first female member of the Warri Branch of the NBA to rise to become a justice of the Court of Appeal.
Also, the chairman Benin Branch of the NBA, Nosa Edo-Osagie said: “It is a thing of joy when judges retire unblemished after a long service. Today, a forthright, trustworthy and quintessential jurist retires from the bench with an admirable record of hard work, integrity, unbroken trust and knowledge.”
Speaking on her experience on the bench, Justice Pemu said the judiciary must shun corruption as the courts remain the last hope of the common man.
The retired justice of the Court of Appeal, said she had the best in her career at the Owerri Division because she was able, “to navigate and circumvent very difficult challenges.”
According to her, “I left behind in the Owerri Division, a sanitised registry and a calm court. I am certain that the lawyers and staff in that division will attest to this fact.
“In any judicial system, I found that the registry of the court is the nucleus or pivot around which every other department revolves and once you sanitise the registry of a court, half of the problem is solved.
“A prime, proactive and unadulterated registry is a blessing to any court. Therefore, it is desirous and indeed imperative to sanitize on a continuous basis the registry of the courts. Counsels should desist from colluding with registries’ staff to cut corners.”
On insecurity, she said: “The issue of security is also at the front burner. This issue becomes more profound particularly as it appears that the judiciary and indeed judicial officers are targets. “Just a couple of weeks ago, the chairman of a customary court in Imo state was dragged out of the court and shot on the head in the course of performing his judicial functions.
“Again, about two Sundays after, a court in Imo State was burnt down by hoodlums. I myself, on the 20th day of February 2022 as I travelled down from Benin to Owerri, I was kidnapped by hoodlums within the Ihiala axis of Anambra State, it was only by the grace of God that I escaped with some of my staff. My personal driver and the two cars in our possession are still missing as I speak. The judicial officers are exposed too much for comfort.”
Speaking to journalists, Obaseki said but for the judiciary, there would have been crisis in Nigeria going by the outcome of the February 25th presidential election since it remains the hope by the people that they would get justice in the courts.
He also called for the decentralisation of the country’s security system to check the level of insecurity in Nigeria.
Obaseki added: “I will say that for the judiciary in Nigeria, as you know it is the last hope for the citizens, you all saw what happened in our country on February 25th and the reason why we have the peace today, the calm in the country is because people know that there is an institution, the judiciary where people believe and hope that they can get justice and therefore they are holding back, sheathing their swords until the outcry of the judicial process, without the judiciary, without the judicial process, that arm of government can you imagine the crisis we would have been in as a country today?”
High point of the event was the public presentation of her book, “Evidence of Grace.”