Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi has reiterated the commitment of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) in ensuring judicial autonomy in the country as contained in the President Mohammadu Buhari’s Executive Order number 10.
He also said Ekiti State and the NGF would also partner with the new leadership of the Bar on Gender Based Violence (GBV) and other agenda crucial to national development.
Governor Fayemi stated this on Monday while playing host to the President-elect of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Mr Olumide Akpata, who was in his office in Ado-Ekiti on a courtesy visit.
He said the Governors’ forum was already working out the modalities in a way that would be most acceptable to all.
Dr Fayemi noted that some states were already implementing judicial autonomy to a large extent with a view to ensuring the realization of matters of justice sector reforms.
While congratulating the new President-elect for his success at the just concluded Bar election, Governor Fayemi said he looked forward to the dynamism of youths with fresh ideas that Akpata’s presidency was bound to bring on board in the development of the bar nationally, adding that he was hopeful that his tenure would witness transformation in many areas.
Dr Fayemi also used the opportunity to congratulate the newly elected executive members of the NBA in the state and assured them of the state government’s continued support and collaboration through constructive engagement with its leadership.
The governor said, “Let me assure you of not just the cooperation of Ekiti government but also the cooperation of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum. I know that in this position there are many issues you’ll need to deal with, one of the issues we’ve been grappling with which should be of interest to you is the Executive Order 10 which relates to judicial autonomy as you know, and let me state for the record that governors all over Nigeria are for judicial autonomy.
“The bone of contention has been the modality of implementation, especially giving a level of endowment from state to state, and I have had cause to meet with the Chief Justice of Nigeria over this on behalf of governors and I’m also meeting the President of the Court of Appeal on it and there is a committee comprising of governors as well as Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation working out the modalities in a way that would be mutually acceptable to both government and the judiciary.
“I want to say that for us, we consider that as a very critical component of our democratic process and we should do everything within our own power as governors to ensure that this happens. And as you may also be aware, some of our states are already implementing judicial autonomy to a large extent.
On matters of justice sector reform, Governor Fayemi said, “This is a matter that is very dear to our hearts in Ekiti and it’s something that we believe without working with the leaders of the bar, it would be an exercise in futility.”
The Governor bemoaned a situation whereby power relation is lopsided against women, stressing that the privileges of patriarchy would always make women susceptible to manipulation of all sorts.
“An aspect of it that is very dear to us in the state is the gender based violence, for us in Ekiti, we consider this a sore point, a huge crime against humanity and one that we believe all of our governors should also be active in.
“To this extent, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum declared a state of emergency on gender-based violence and we’ve been working with Lawyers and police on what this really means. For us, it means all states must enact or domesticate the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act. It means enforcement and effective level of the provision of the VAPP act, it means empowerment to our girls and women”.
“So, if you don’t empower girls by ensuring that they are kept in school and they are supported when they are out of school, you will always have power relations dynamics determining what happens between boys and girls. And it also means providing the survival support, we have a sexual assault referral Centre here in this state, we also have a shelter for women who encountered domestic violence and we feel it should be applicable across board.” He said.
Earlier, the President-elect, Mr Olumide Akpata, who said he was in the state on a thank-you visit to the state chapter of the NBA for its support during the election sought the support of government concerning the welfare of his members in the state by building their capacity.
Akpata, who was accompanied by the newly elected secretary -general of the NBA, Joyce oduah, noted that despite the fact that Nigeria was the largest economy in Africa, the legal structure was still trying to catch up with the development in the economy, hence need to build capacity in the legal profession.
He also sought support of government on the issue of access to justice by ensuring that the rule of law was respected and the rights of the people are not trampled upon.
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