From Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti
Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, on Monday sworn-in Justice John Oyewole Adeyeye as the Acting Chief Judge of the state, called on the judiciary to prioritise matters of sexual crimes.
Fayemi said the appeal became necessary following the increasing rate of rape and defilement related cases flooding the courts in recent times.
The governor also called for the review of salaries and allowances of judicial workers to protect the sanctity of the judiciary, saying he was jolted that the negotiations on judicial autonomy seem to have left out the issue of salaries and allowances of judicial officers.
Fayemi spoke in Ado-Ekiti on Monday while performing the swearing-in ceremony for the Acting CJ to replace Justice Ayodeji Daramola, who bowed out from the bench last week.
Expressing disgust at the increasing spate of sexual assault cases in courts, Fayemi said: “Your Lordship is uniquely positioned to have observed in recent times the increase in matters of rape and child defilement in our courts. My administration has enacted laws and enabled several policies aimed at reversing this scourge.
“Among others, we have opened a register for sex offenders and we now publicly name and shame convicted sex offenders. I know that achieving conviction of a sex offender is the outcome of proper investigation and diligent prosecution.
“Strengthening and supporting the capacity of the Nigeria Police and the Ministry of Justice to enable sustainable convictions of sex offenders are priority goals of our zero tolerance policy against all forms of sexual violence.
“Permit me My Lords to add that the Judiciary also have an important role in our advocacy against sexual violence. Indeed My Lords, if there was ever a time when judicial activism is required on any matter, that time is now.
“I am respectfully of the opinion that our courts can and should go beyond the applicable law to consider the broader societal implications of its decisions in matters of sexual violence in this state. I strongly urge Your Lordships to review the rules and court procedures in a manner that will ensure the prioritisation and speedy consideration of matters of sexual violence.”
Fayemi regretted how the review of judicial staff salaries and allowances were neglected by National Judicial Council and Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria(JUSUN) in their negotiations with the Federal and State governments.
“I am aware that between 1999 till date, the Federal Government reviewed the salaries and allowances of Public Servants and Political office holders on four occasions specifically in 2000, 2005, 2007 and 2011.
“However, the salaries of judicial officers were only reviewed twice during the same period. As a result judicial officers have been on the same salary structure for more than 10 years. It may now be necessary for the NJC to provide leadership on possible renewed negotiations on this issue as part of a holistic discussion on judicial autonomy”, he stated.
Fayemi applauded and recognised the immense contributions of the retired Chief Judge, Justice Ayodeji Daramola to the development of the justice sector in Ekiti State.
“It is incontrovertible, the judiciary cannot uphold the rule of law or administer justice in splendid isolation. The rule of law is underpinned by a partnership among the three arms of government. The Executive and legislature must provide the resources, financial and administrative, necessary to maintain the judicial system.”
Fayemi stated that Justice Adeyeye is coming into office at a time when action must be braced up on how to implement the joint agreement on financial autonomy for the state judiciary between the State Government, the NJC and JUSUN.
“The content of the Memorandum of Action requires that the three arms of government achieve a seamless implementation framework that is not only sustainable but is able to respond to the specific needs of the judiciary in this state”, the governor added.