Judges of lower courts in Kogi State have been charged to be diligent in applying the provisions of the Kogi State Administration of Criminal Justice Law, 2017.
The Acting Chief Judge of the state, Hon. Justice Josiah Majebi, gave the charge at the Judiciary headquarters, Lokoja, when declaring open the last appeals session of the High Court of Justice for the year 2022.
He said the activities of the lower courts, comprising Magistrates and Area Courts, were fundamental to maintenance of the rule of law and the integrity of the Judiciary and should therefore be seen not to derail.
He averred that being the first point of call in most instances, a miscarriage of justice at that level would amount to desecration of the temple of justice.
In his view, when an iota of doubt is held by public on the efficiency of the courts her integrity suffers it. But with due and strict compliance with the state’s criminal justice law enacted in 2017, that can be avoided.
He therefore enjoined Magistrates and Area Court Judges in the state to adhere to their professional ethics and ensure cases brought before them were not only treated fairly without fear or favour but also timely.
He said the courts have no reasons to either delay or mishandle matters brought before them especially when thorough and proper investigations must have been conducted by prosecuting agencies.
The commencement of the appeals session, according to the CJ, was for accelerated trial and fair delivery of judgement on appels that emanated from matters decided by Magistrates’ Court’s.
The panels which were constituted to sit over such cases that emanated from Magistrates’ Courts have over 119 cases to look into. While two panels will be sitting in Lokoja, other panels will sit simultaneously in Okene, Idah, Ankpa, Anyigba and kabba.
The CJ who expressed confidence in his brother judges to do justice to all matters before the panels urged litigants to maintain decorum throughout the period of the sessions and advised lawyers appearing before the panels to be mindful of the essence of time.
Making reference to the prisons decongestion exercise which he concluded over the weekend, he said the last time such exercise was undertaken was two years ago which made the just concluded exercise a remarkable step towards promoting fairness in the administration of criminal justice in the state.
He said though all the prisons in the state were visited but it was only in kabba correctional facility that three inmates were worthy of release as they were found to have been unjustly detained.
The CJ however appreciated the four branches of the NBA and other stakeholders in the administration of criminal justice in the state for their efforts and commended them for their support throughout the exercise.
As takeaway from the exercise, Justice Majebi disclosed that efforts at reviving the committee on administration of criminal justice in the state were at advanced stage and hinted that Magistrates would soon commence periodical visits to prison facilities located in the state, as provided by law.
He reiterated that the move would further drive home the processes of criminal justice delivery in the state.
He said he has already met with His Excellency, Governor Yahaya Bello, and other stakeholders for logistical support in that direction and was happy with the level of commitment the governor and others have shown towards the cause while also appreciative of the Governor for releasing funds for the appeals sessions to hold.