BRIEF ON THE NASARAWA STATE JUDICIARY

BRIEF ON THE NASARAWA STATE JUDICIARY

Anthony ADGIDZI

The Nasarawa State Judiciary is the third arm of Nasarawa State Government, the other two being the Executive and the Legislature are complimenting each other in good governance and quality service to the people of the state. The Judiciary constitutionally comprises of three Units; the High Court of Justice, the Sharia and the Customary Courts of Appeal, working together to ensure efficient judicial system in the state as well as sustaining governance through effective administration of Justice.

The judiciary, like any other bodies also has a regulatory body known as the Judicial Service Commission, an uncompromising body that deals with the issues of appointment, promotion and disciplinary judicial staff in the state.

The three units of the Judiciary, the High Court, Sharia and Customary Courts of Appeal, though a single entity, yet function distinctively.

Each Unit has it’s Head of Court, which are as follows; Justice Aisha Bashir Aliyu, the Chief Judge of High Court of Justice, the Grand Khadi as the Head of Sharia Court of Appeal, presently headed by Hon. Kadi Abdullahi Mohammad; and the President, Customary Court of Appeal also headed by Hon. Justice Emmanuel Osabo Osagede.

However, there is no gain saying the fact that, the Chief Judge is the Head of the Judiciary and also the Chairman of the Judicial Service Commission, who seat on all maters that affect judicial officers in the state.

The Sharia and Customary Courts of Appeal are majorly courts of second instances, where cases before them are those on appeal. These courts are not only an integral part of the justice system, it is also an important part in Justice delivery, and those are court where common people on the street gets Justice according to their native believe.

It is hope that the sharia and customary courts will take it pride of place in administration of Justice.The High Court of Justice is a court of trial and appellate jurisdiction, that handles cases both on first trial and on appeals. The High Court of Justice has unlimited jurisdiction over the subject matters and persons that it has jurisdiction over.

For proper appreciation of the nature, functions and or operations of the Nasarawa State Judiciary, it is most appropriate to look at its constituent units.Against the forgoing, it is important to note that the creation of Nasarawa State in October, 1996, gave birth to the establishment of High Count, which formed part of what was Plateau State High Court. With the creation of the State, the State High Court was established.

The pioneer Chief Judge of the State was Hon. Justice Suleiman Galadima (now a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria).The State High Court as already stated, has original and appellate jurisdiction in both Civil and criminal matters. Its original jurisdiction is provided for under Section 272(1) of the 1999 Constitution.

The State High Court hears and determines appeals from decisions of Magistrates and Area Courts in all criminal matters. It also hears and determines appeals from District Courts in all civil cases.

In addition, appeals from Area Courts in all civil cases other than customary or Islamic personal law or cases, lie to the High Court.A Panel of two or three Judges of the High Court is usually constituted for the purpose of determining appeals from the lower courts aforementioned.

The High Court of the State has a single Judicial Division, with five High Courts cited in Lafia, the State capital. For the purpose of convenience to litigants, two High Courts, presided over by resident High Court Judges, are cited at Keffi with the most senior judge as the assigning judge.

Similarly, there is one High Court Judge each at Akwanga and Nasarawa, both of whom are also resident judges. Noteworthy also is that, there are presently five High Courts at Mararraban Gurku with the most senior as assigning judge.

Administratively, the High Court has six major Directorates; Directorates of Personnel; Magistrates’ and Area Courts’ Affairs; Litigation and Library Services; Research, Planning and Statistics; Probate Matters and Finance.

The Probate Directorate was only recently established in November 2013 in order to ease the problems associated with the processing of Letters of Administration, probate and sundry matters in the State.‎

Each of these Directorates, with the exception of Finance, is headed by a Deputy Chief Registrar while the Chief Registrar is the Administrative Head and Chief Accounting officer of the state judiciary.END::::

Efficient System, Access to Justice top Governor Sule’s Drive in Reforming Nasarawa Judicial Sector – Kana

Efficient System, Access to Justice top Governor Sule’s Drive in Reforming Nasarawa Judicial Sector – Kana

  • As Nasarawa Justice Ministry replaces sleepy inherited laws to enhance services
  • Relationship between arms of government in Nasarawa best in Nigeria
  • As government tackled every high profile crimes

The Honourable Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Nasarawa State, Associate Professor Abdulkarim Abubakar Kana has decried the situation where children roaming the streets can be veritable tools of recruitment for bandits and terrorists, as well as he explained why there has not been infractions in the administration of Engr. Abdullahi Sule in the last two and half years. In this interview with the Team of Editors of Nasarawa Today Magazine, the reiterated the position of the state government to ensure an efficient, effective and a workable judicial system, free from cracks, aimed at ensuring access to Justice. 

Can you introduce yourself, to let our readers know in brief, who you are?

My name is Dr Abdulkarim Abubakar Kana. I am the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice Nasarawa State, and prior to my appointment, I was a teacher, a Professor of Law with the Nasarawa State University Keffi, and I was the Dean at the Faculty. And also to a certain extent, I extended into private practice with a law firm in Keffi and Abuja, and I hail from Kokona Local Government Council of Nasarawa State. To be specific, from Kana village and I am a son of Alhaji Abubakar Kana.

It is a privilege coming in contact with the only Commissioner in Nasarawa State; very unprecedented. We have never had it this way. So, how does it feel being the only member of the Executive Council?

Well, the Constitution is clear as to the office of the Attorney-General and that at all material time it should be occupied by someone. And it happens that at the time when the State Executive Council by matter of political exigency needed to be dissolved, His Excellency, being a democrat and a true observer of the law, and in compliance with the Constitution, he realised that the office of the Attorney-General will have to be preserved as it were, in line with the provisions of the Constitution to ensure that it does not remain vacant for even a single day. And I believe that it was in line with that, that His Excellency directed, instructed and decided that the Attorney-General’s office should not be affected by the dissolution of the cabinet that was carried out about four months ago. I understand it from that angle. And in addition to that, there is tremendous confidence in our performance in the Ministry. And His Excellency has observed and expressed that confidence in our actions and activities here. That may also have reinforced his decision to ensure that the office does not remain vacant and that we continue to hold on to the responsibility pending any further action or decision that the government may take going forward and in the future.

Will you say, so far, there are actions you have taken or steps you have put in place to ensure that successive administrations will not tamper with this template?

I think the law is the law, and once it is there, it is now left for anyone who comes after the law has been passed to either observe it or violate it. And by violating, I mean not following what the law says. And if the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) has clearly stipulated that the office of the Attorney-General should be preserved, it behoves on any occupant of the office of the Chief Executive of the State to ensure that the office remains occupied at all material time by someone – whether Kana or anybody for that matter. So basically, that is what it is. For us that are here now, the only thing we will do is to try to see that, for any responsibility allocated to us to carry out, is to see that we try our best to do it to the later and in compliance and conformity with the provisions of the law and based on the oath of office that we have taken not to disappoint our boss, the person who appointed us into the office and also not to disappoint our people, the people of Nasarawa State.

Nasarawa State was 25 years on the 1st of October this year, and is a baby of Plateau State. Are there any inherited laws? If there are, what is the State Government doing to de-link from the inherited laws from Plateau State?

I think we are almost there. Naturally there will be inherited laws. There are still some of them that were inherited right from Northern Nigeria, that were inherited by Benue-Plateau, inherited by Plateau and then by Nasarawa, and that have not quite been touched up till now, they are still in their pristine condition, undisturbed for reasons being that maybe the need to alter them hasn’t come up, but even for the purpose of nomenclature, some of them since we came, we have tried to see that we tamper with them, so that we try to shake off the outlook of the past. But then, as much as possible, we are taking them on a case-by-case basis, one-by-one, so that we don’t do it in a wholesome basis so that it will create a clog in the activities of the House of Assembly.

Of course, many laws were inherited and many have been amended. Many have been repealed. But some of them, what we have tried to do is to pass new ones completely to replace the existing ones. We have made lots of progress as far as that is concerned. Many laws were inherited from Plateau and some from Northern Nigeria. I think the most remarkable of them, is what we call, the Criminal Procedure Code of Northern Nigeria (CPC) which was inherited by Plateau and then by Nasarawa. It regulates the procedures in criminal courts in the States, in Northern Nigeria. And of course, with the passage of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act of the country, which basically replaces the Criminal Procedure Act of Nigeria, States too had to domesticate the same. And by domestication, it effectively displaces and replaces the criminal procedure code. So Nasarawa State in 2019, we were able to enact what we call the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Nasarawa State, which replaces the Criminal Procedure Code. And of course, in addition to that, quite a number of laws have so far been passed, which effectively replaces what we inherited from Plateau. We are going gradually. I think very few now are still left, which at the mention of them, it will have the name of Plateau. They are very few; not more than five or ten. But one thing about laws, especially with States like Nasarawa which was established a long time after independence, is that some of the laws are sleepy. Sleepy in the sense that they are quiet and silent, unless a need to invoke and apply them arises, you won’t even know they exist, and from time to time they are coming up.

Very recently, we had a case in which we were asked to interpret the provisions of the Forestry Law of Northern Nigeria, and this was a law that was inherited by Plateau itself, it is not a law that issues arise pertaining to it every day. The laws that, usually, may need to be invoked on a daily basis are the ones that are highly litigable. Litigable in the sense that persons go to court on them, but forestry law is not something that lawyers or conflicts arise from time to time, so, the law was left in its old condition as it were, until recently, when a conflict arose as to collection of revenues between the board of internal revenue and the Ministry of Environment, and of course, the law was brought to our attention and we found that it has remained as it were right from the time of Northern Nigeria to date. We needed to go through it and of course, we discovered that some of the provisions have effectively been repealed, amended or replaced by the provisions of the harmonisation law of our taxes and levies of Nasarawa State 2021. So, you will see that, many of them have actually been overtaken by events or by virtue of passage of some other laws with similar composition and similar contents, a very few now are in their old condition.

How effective is the justice administration in Nasarawa State especially in the last two years of this administration?

Well! Effectiveness of justice administration can be approached from two angles. Number one: is access to justice, and number two: is efficiency of the system. In terms of access to justice, I will tell you that, even though it is something I was told, it is not something to be proud of, but as far as access to justice is concerned, it is something to be proud of. The fact that Nasarawa State has more courts than any other State in Nigeria, except Lagos in terms of numbers, and with the size of Nasarawa vis-a-viz majority of other States, then we are having more courts than them, it tells you that within, probably, every 5km radius in Nasarawa State, there is a court house. In other words, there are courts closer to the people in Nasarawa State than any other State in the country. Under the present administration alone, working together with the judiciary, more courts have been created. To be precise, 30 new magistrate courts have been created, and in terms of rehabilitation and renovation and reconstruction, as we speak now, more than 35 to 40 courts have been rehabilitated or refurbished by the present administration working together with the judiciary. Some are new, some were completed, like the High Court Complex was completed and furnished and powered by the present administration, and 30 magistrates were appointed to man the new courts, many more area courts have been established. I have the file here with me. I can reach out to it. So far, we are talking of 33 renovated and reconstructed courts, I have the list here, and this does not contain newly established courts, which as it is, we are commencing operations from temporary sites. Some of them are in very small villages. The whole idea is to fulfil the access to justice aspect of justice administration.

In terms of efficiency, that largely will have to do with availability of personnel. More persons have been posted to some of these courts, more staff have been appointed to man the courts, so that, there will be fewer cases in the court, and of course, we are feeling the result and we are very careful in celebrating it so that we do not attract envy to Nasarawa State. In the sense that we are enjoying some level of peace and harmony. For the first time in the history of Nasarawa, you can beat your chest and say that, there is no ongoing communal crisis in any community in Nasarawa State. Tribes and ethnic groups are living in peace, and that is an outcome of our input. Some of it may not be so manifest that you can touch it with your hand but you can feel it. The last rainy season, probably in many years, is the time when people were able to go to their farms in peace in Nasarawa State. You can’t say the same with most of our neighbouring States. That is why we say we are being careful so that, we are not deliberately targeted, so that they will break this record that we are setting. And this has to do with the clear and proactive effort of the administration in terms of reaching out. In this Ministry alone, I can tell you that, we have settled many, many communal disputes, and we are doing it on a daily basis. Some of them between communities, intra-community over chieftaincy, over lands, over farmland, over fish ponds. This is what we do on a daily basis. His Excellency will ask us to intervene, or he directly intervene before it goes out of control. And this direct intervention by the government into matters and conflicts before they go out of control, is part of the reasons largely…, and I can tell you some of them in Nassarawa Eggon, there was direct intervention. In Assakio here, there was direct intervention. In Keana, there was direct intervention between Fulani herdsmen and the farmers, we are carrying everybody along, and of course, through the court systems, to ensure that when matters are filed, persons are able to seek and get justice within a short time. When you have few courts, you have too many cases and it clogs the course list, and when it clogs the course list, cases are not dispensed with on time, people become frustrated and lose confidence in the justice system and they take the law into their hands. When they take the law into their hands, when they begin to kill each other and then anarchy sets in. And then, of course, we go back to the state of nature where life is crude, brutish and short. These are some of the outcomes which people may not appreciate, but these things are happening between us and the police, between us and the security agencies. I don’t sleep. And each time we are receiving instruction from His Excellency, ‘intervene here, intervene there’. There are kidnappings all over the country, but go and check it out, the crime rate as far as Nasarawa State is concerned is minimal compared to most of our neighbouring States. And we thank God for it, and God is looking at our hearts, the efforts we are making and He is also helping us in terms of ensuring that there is result in ensuring that our people are happy.

You have just reeled out a number of courts that have emerged; new ones and old ones that were renovated. Does that translate to prison decongestion?

Well! In terms of prison decongestion, it has to do with efficiency of three actors; the prosecutors, which includes the Ministry of Justice and the police to ensure that they are diligent in response, in filing necessary processes to prosecute the cases. That we are doing. To ensure that we enhance our efficiency within last year alone, His Excellency employed additional 15 lawyers for the Ministry of Justice so that we will be there as and when due. The police have been cooperating effectively with us, to see that cases are dispensed with, and we are dispensing with cases on time.

The second actors are the defence counsels, those who are defending the suspects and the defendants, whether they themselves are up and doing. That is something that the lawyers out there will have to answer, because, if we are not receiving enough cooperation from them, it now also translates into our inability to dispense and resolve with the cases. I can assure you that, as it is right now, for most of the cases that may not be moving as fast as is expected or in accordance with the law, the fault will not be that of the government or the prosecutors.

The third actor is the courts; whether the courts are available, close to the people, whether the judges are up and doing, attending court when they should be. I can assure you that our judges are up and doing. They are always there. So, to that extent, the prisons are being decongested as we speak. The space to inmate ratio in Nasarawa State, I think, it is only in Lafia Prison where we have an outrageous ratio. For Wamba Prison, for Keffi, Nasarawa and Toto Prisons, the ratio is in favour of the fact that there is still a lot of spaces, except of course, if you want to create more people for us to send there. But there are spaces there and I can assure you that if you can take a visit to Wamba Prison, you will think they are doing… There are rooms for more to be sent there.

Here in the Ministry of Justice, I have always told people that, our job and responsibility is to prosecute, to ensure that our streets are rid of criminals. And mine is not to decongest prisons. It is to fill up the prisons. O yes! Ours is to fill up these prisons to the brim with suspects and defendants and convicts. However they come, let’s ensure they are not on the streets. Let them be where they belong, and that is the prisons. And what I can guarantee you is that, we are working very hard to ensure that, if there is any of them on the street that are brought to us by the security agencies, we ensure they remain locked up. But as to whether we are helping to get them out?, that one is between them and their lawyer. Let him suffer to get them out if he can, but for us, we will ensure they remain locked up if they have committed the crime. But what we do here is that, we scrutinize the work of the police and the DSS and any security agency when they bring files of suspects to us, to ensure that, if we have to prosecute a suspect, to be very frank with you, he has committed that crime. Not that we will pass judgment on our part, but we have all the materials in our hands to go through and establish whether indeed there is a case against someone or not. I can tell you that almost all of them that their files have been recommended for prosecution, have committed those crimes, even though the finality, it is the decision of the court, but they have committed those crimes and ours is to ensure they remain locked up. And here, nobody will compromise the Ministry of Justice. If you have committed wrong, we will prosecute you. As we speak now, I can assure you we have more than a thousand of them locked up, either kidnapping suspects, robbery suspects, rape suspects. And they will remain there until we are able to effectively prosecute and have them convicted. And we are trying our best to see that they do not escape through the cracks of the system. Almost every major, high profile crime of either kidnapping or robbery in Nasarawa State have largely been solved, in the sense that they have been apprehended and brought and are being prosecuted. Most of the ones you have heard about, maybe you people were able to carry it on the news. The idea is to ensure that our people live in peace and safety across the State.

And to achieve this, certainly you need the support of not only your principal the Governor, but other arms of government too. So, looking back, how will you describe this principle of separation of powers? How effective, inter-connecting are the others?

You see that, deliberately, in October 2020, His Excellency, the Governor held what we called, ‘a summit of arms’, and the essence of that summit of arms was to bring all the three arms of government together so we can discuss some of our areas of challenges, in terms of our inter-relations, and prior to that, everything was excellent, and nearly perfect. But then, we held that summit, and there were a lot of disclosures between us, and we exchanged thoughts. We were able to correct a few areas where there are problems between, in our relationship, and between then and now, I can assure you that, we are working together and you will see that between October 2020 to date, the House of Assembly hasn’t taken any step that will appear as if there is a problem between it and the Executive. Between then and now, the Judiciary too has tried to see that as much as possible we work together, because when the common man sees government, he is not referring to the Governor alone, when the common man sees government, and the common man is right, when he is referring to everybody; the judiciary, executive and legislature. He is not referring to only the Governor, and all of us are government and because we are government, one arm cannot be seen to be frustrating the other arm. We have to work together. The executive must ensure that it provides the other arms with all that they need to be effective and efficient, to carry out their functions. To that extent, I can assure you the executive is doing well.

And then the legislature is to ensure that as much as possible, the policies and actions of government are given the required legislative backing and support as and when due so they will be backed up by law. So that those actions and policies will not be illegal. I can assure you that the executive government of Nasarawa State is receiving that from the legislature.

The judiciary is also to ensure that they interpret the law in the way and manner that the people of Nasarawa State and the citizens of Nigeria living in this State will feel protected too, either from fellow humans or from government by balancing the interpretation of laws so that everybody gets his dues, and I can assure you that we are receiving that to a very large extent. So the relationship between the three arms at the moment, I think, is one of the best in the country. We have had some States’ Houses of Assembly going to remove their own, as you can see, same thing is not happening here, and they admit that, they are allowed to do their work sufficiently, exhaustively too, and they are also ensuring that they give us what we need in order to achieve our objectives as a government.

There are instances where the State Government have been dragged to court over one issue or the other. Can you tell us how your Ministry stepped in to resolve these issues?

Government is an entity and in law, the same way the law sees you that is how the law also sees the government. While you are a biological person, the law sees the State Government as a legal entity or what is called artificial personality. For as long as you are a person, whether biological or legal person, it means that you must in fact relate with people and there must be conflicts that will arise from time to time. So, in terms of relationship between government and individuals, some citizens, of course there will be conflicts from time to time that may arise, which may necessitate the institution of actions against government in court or petitions written.

Here as a Ministry, our responsibility besides ensuring that we defend government, beside, we also the responsibility of prosecuting persons who commit crimes, prosecution of offenders, ours is also to advise government sufficiently, to ensure that criminal cases are averted or crises are averted, either crisis of a constitutional nature between arms or crisis of constitutional nature between the government and individual citizens. And of course, as an extended responsibility of the Ministry is to ensure that the arms of government and all government agencies also observe the law and the constitution of the country and to that extent, we are doing it. Then, the conflict that may arise between individuals themselves, sometimes they go to court and sometimes they come to us and when they go to court between themselves, we make sure that, like I explained earlier, those courts are there so that they can have access to justice, so that they can go and ventilate their grievances. When they come to us to step in, sometimes they come through the Governor and the governor will instruct that we step in and see how we can reconcile the parties or the communities. To that extent also, the Ministry tries to be effective in terms of reconciling or resolving disputes between communities in Nasarawa State and we done so many of them to see that we bring peace to our people.

As a class teacher and now an administrator, leaving the class to this office, did you feel anything missing in you? Because you talk more while in the classroom. Now it appears your talking will not be as much compared to when you were in the class…?

Well, the truth of the matter is that, you must practice what you teach and there is nothing in life that gives a teacher more pleasure than having the opportunity of practicing what he teaches. For me, I have been very privileged and lucky in life as an individual. First, becoming a lawyer. It wasn’t my decision, our parents, we have been very lucky and privileged to have parents who see into our futures, who will gauge and weigh our capabilities and competencies and understand where our comparative advantage lies and direct us through that angle, so that we study courses that best fits what we are capable of doing. I think, I am one of those very lucky people from Nasarawa State. When my father sees that you have capacity to become a doctor, he knows. Being a teacher himself, if you have the capacity of being a teacher or a lawyer, he knows, and for all of us that are his children, even his brothers’ children, people from our community and even across the State, when he was admission officer in Jos, once you walk into his office, he will look at you, he will listen to you and he will tell you ‘you go and study this course’, and that was how he carried out his activity almost throughout his life, trying to directing persons to where they should belong and many of them are well placed today, and, it has also made our lives a lot easier as his children, in the sense that anywhere we go, we encounter some of these people who have had the privilege of being guided or mentored by him at one point or the other.

For me, I will tell you that being a lawyer and having the opportunity to teach, there is no profession that has more blessings than teaching. And then, the profession which does not only enable me teach but also enables me to practice, as a practitioner and then, today as a regulator of the system; because essentially what we are doing here is regulating the system as Attorney General. It means that it has now made me a full cycle. So being here, I have missed nothing, in answer to your question. What it has done is that, it has help me to realize the full potentials of the career or discipline I have chosen, my parents have chosen and God has chosen for me in life. So, nothing has been missed, instead it has given me the opportunity of now putting into practice and operations the ideas; some of them, the outcome of many of my researches of many years. Today I sit here and I have the opportunity of putting them into, either draft statutes or putting them into policies that, in order to advise government and forging a path and direction in assisting to ensure that government moves in a certain direction. I don’t think there is any opportunity that any human being in life would have that will make him happier than this, known.

Are you considering going back to the class after this?

I am still in class. I haven’t left the class. I still teach my courses, I still mark my scripts. Every week I am in class. I am still with my students. I still supervise my PhD and Masters degrees.

Before the advent of this administration, there were laws that were passed. As it came, the legislative arm showed some form of vibrancy and one or two laws have been passed. To what extent will you say you have been able to carry out the implementation of these laws?

Implementation of laws is the responsibility of government agencies essentially. The Ministry of Justice like I said, its own mandate is clear and it is constitutional and is to defend and advise government. And also, we have the extended service of human rights and conflict resolution, we do that, and that is why we have the Department of Public Defence here, defending both government and individual citizens too. In terms of implementing laws, you find out that many of these laws give specific functions and duties and responsibilities to government agencies, some of the laws have actually created government agencies and given them those functions. So, the responsibility of implementing those laws that have been passed prior to the coming of this administration are for the respective agencies.

What we do as a Ministry is to monitor, where we see that any law has been left dormant, not being implemented, we try to draw the attention of the appropriate government agency to rise up to the challenge and do its functions. We do that from time to time and then of course, for some of the government agencies that we observe that are not probably implementing the laws accordingly or as it should be, we issue what we call implementation guide to these government agencies to advise them on the step-by-step procedure on the implementation of law that regulates or guides their activities as a government agency. So to that extent, we try to see that every government agency performs its function based on the law that created it and based on the mandate that is imposed on it by law or by the Chief Executive of the State.

Two years running, and four months after the dissolution of cabinet and looking back. How will you described working with His Excellency, Engineer Abdullahi Sule? What kind of person he is?

From the way I have spoken you can see that the ministry has been given its powers to perform its functions based on the law and we are not being disturbed in any way and, I can assure you that being a person who has worked with other Governors in the past, and having the privilege of working with the present Governor, and every Governor has his own approach and unique way of response to issues and to legal advice and counsel. And you can’t have anybody who listens more that Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule. He listens, he utilizes the advice, he implements it, he applies it, he abides by it and nothing gives me more pleasure than when you advise based on what the law says and you have a Chief Executive, a boss who follows the law. I can assure you that that is what he does. He is a democrat in all his actions, he ensures that for every action he is going to take, it is in accordance with the law. So the Ministry is effectively being utilized, especially my office and that is how it should be. So, for the two and half years, you will see that in terms of infractions, there has not been any in which the State or people will begin to rise up to say the government is not acting according to law.

Like I have said, look at the results, when we had the End SARS crises last year, the youths of Nasarawa State were not restive, they themselves were telling us, what will they do? Should they come out and demonstrate in condemnation? When we had JUSUN and the union of parliamentary workers earlier this year on protest, the unions instead of protesting against the State, they came in solidarity, because they are happy with the way things are being run in this State. The pensioners, you can see the progress being made on pensions. It has been tremendous. I can tell you that effective this month, the government would have cleared liabilities of pensions, gratuity and death benefits. Some of them dating back to Plateau State all the way to 2008. Now, effective December, the government would have cleared gratuity and death benefits and entitlements of retirees up to 2010.

And then we have the instruction of His Excellency the Governor, to work out the strategy towards, also, clearing completely, the backlog of liability from 2011 to date. And no government, I can assure you in Nigeria, has been able to achieve this feat and all these are being done without borrowing a fund from anybody. While at the same time some infrastructure here and there – in almost every Local Government Area almost one or two – are ongoing. Go and check it out. Nasarawa State is one of the least in terms of borrowing liabilities right now, we are not borrowing any money. So it is something that should go to the credit of the State. Some States, before they pay salaries they have to borrow first. Nasarawa State is able to pay salaries and clear backlog of liabilities dating back 25 years.

Of recent, we have had cases of rapes including the rape a minors. What is your office doing to make sure the perpetrators are brought to book and put up punitive measures to serve as a deterrent to those who are tempted to do same?

As far back as 2018, when I took over the office of Attorney General, we were receiving complaints, and the truth is that there was a gradual rise in cases of rape and domestic violence, and we needed to act. The first thing we did was working with the office of His Excellency, the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo. We established what we call ‘Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team’ and if you open the website of the Ministry you will see the numbers there, the emergency numbers that we have indicated there on the website of the Ministry of Justice, so that, when persons fall victims of such activities they will call immediately and we have a desk officer here that handles such responses. The reason is because, we discovered that, many of these victims are persons who have no means of defending themselves, they are either minors or very poor people who don’t even know what to do. Even if they do know what to do, they don’t have the means and wherewithal to be able to act accordingly. So we have established this desk to guide them. Immediately it happens, once a call is made, somebody takes it from the other end then we act accordingly.

We didn’t stop there, we worked with the police to ensure that we established what we call JWC – Juvenile and Women Centre – in police. You will see at the CID now, when you go you will see JWC. We assist them so that juveniles and women who fall victims of either domestic violence or sexual violence are given special attention at the CID. We didn’t stop there, we also worked together with the House of Assembly to enact laws. First, the implementation of the Child Rights Law which had been there but was never implemented. His Excellency signed Executive Order 1, 2020 for the protection of children. And that has given order for the protection of children to its full implementation of the Child Rights Law. And as we speak now since 2010 to date, children or minors who are victims of domestic violence, the perpetrators are charged not under Penal Code but are charged under the Child Rights Law.

We also originated a Bill to the House and worked together with the House of Assembly to harmonize another Bill that was sponsored by the Honourable Speaker of the House of Assembly to pass what we call the Violence against Persons Act – that is VAP. That law has been passed, which stipulates punishments for different types of domestic violence both against minors, women and vulnerable persons and that law has also been passed and His Excellency the Governor has assented to that law. The pending bill which we have forwarded to the House of Assembly right now is the law to provide for the payment of costs for victims of sexual violence; hospital costs, investigation costs and so on, and to also criminalize obstruction of investigation or obstruction of justice either by relatives or anybody for that matter, in a case of rape or sexual violence in the situation of minors. So, that bill is before the House of Assembly. In addition to that, we have also proposed the amendment of the old Penal Code of Northern Nigeria which was inherited. It is one of the laws in the State that we inherited and is still being implemented in Nasarawa State. The bill is pending before the Nasarawa State House of Assembly now to amend it and also to pass a new Penal Code of Nasarawa State which will replace that of Northern Nigeria. There are provisions on sexual violence too, in order to protect children.

When you take a walk on the streets of Lafia and other major cities in Nasarawa State, you will find children of school age hawking or doing one form of labour or the other. Are they not covered by this Child Rights law?

They are covered by the Child Rights Law of Nasarawa State and the Executive Order signed by His Excellency the Executive Governor of Nasarawa State for the protection of children, and these two laws alone, I can assure you if they were to be implemented… In fact, in addition to that, the Universal Basic Education (UBE) Law of Nasarawa State which imposes compulsory primary education for children of Nasarawa State, and If you go through that law, you will see that there is a period during the day which a child should not be seen roaming the streets. He or she must be enrolled in school otherwise somebody is liable.

The Executive Order signed by His Excellency the Governor, the Child Rights Law of Nasarawa State, the Universal Basic Education Law of Nasarawa State, in addition to the national policy on education and all the many laws that criminalise such actions of letting children roam the streets, either begging or hawking when they should be in school; these laws are there and they are all implementable. It is for the appropriate government agencies to act. It is for the parents or guidance to observe. These are laws that are known more by their violation, than by their observance. I can assure you that me today, I can confidently say that, and until we are able to effectively find a solution to this menace, these guys are veritable means of recruitment for bandits and terrorists. Anything anybody will tell me, I won’t accept.

The present administration has done its best, it has approved money, given buses, monies for data to be collected, statistics to be gathered across the State for the number of children roaming the street, which has been done. For them to be profiled; that has been done. We have the list, we know the total number, we know where they are and we know their locations. Working together with the relevant stakeholders has become a problem, because the cooperation that is required and needed from relevant stakeholders is now lacking. It has now put the government in a situation where the only choice left is to use force, and the moment government begins to use force, people will say government is not being democratic. But I can assure you that the present administration and any administration in Northern Nigeria is not receiving the kind of cooperation that is required from relevant stakeholders. And when I say relevant stakeholders, I mean the parents of these children and also those who are running the respective centres where these children are brought. They spend two or three hours learning and they spend the remaining 20 hours roaming the streets.

Being one of the longest serving Attorneys-General in Nasarawa State, what will you want to be remembered for?

I think what I have tried to do, and what I try to do in every office I occupy is to touch everything that has to do with the functions of that office and beyond it. And it is now left for people to remember me for whatever they feel is an area that I impacted on. But what I try to do is to impact on every aspect of the functions of the office that I occupy, both from the time I was holding smaller offices as the Dean of the Faculty, as Commissioner for Water Resources and then now as Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of Nasarawa State. In terms of the number of laws that have been drafted, the number of legal advice that have been rendered, the number of prosecutions that have been carried out, the number of lawyers that have been recruited and hired into the Ministry, the number of infrastructure erected in the Ministry and so on and so forth. It is not specific but you know we have touched everything. And for me, whether I am remembered or not, the only thing I wouldn’t want people to remember me for is anything negative. It is better for me not to be remembered at all than to be remembered for doing something negative in any office that I have held. For me, I just want to leave in peace. That is all and of course, I want to leave the place better than I met it, just like I want to leave the world better than I met it.

Thank you.

RE: NASARAWA GRADUATES HALF-BAKED, UNEMPLOYABLE

RE: NASARAWA GRADUATES HALF-BAKED, UNEMPLOYABLE

DISCLAIMER BY THE MINISTRY OF JUSTICE NASARAWA STATE

The attention of the Honourable Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Nasarawa State, Assoc. Prof. Abdulkarim Abubakar Kana has been drawn to a news report published by an online medium, Nasarawa Mirror and some other media outlets credited to him with the title, “Nasarawa Graduates Half-baked, unemployable-Commissioner”.

[

For the avoidance of doubt, it is true that the State Attorney-General granted audience to a group, Social Media Influencers, who paid him courtesy visit in his office on Monday, May 17, 2021. The group were led by its state chairman, Aliyu Ibrahim Orah, who led other members of the group.

Let it be on record that, what was reported is not close to what the Attorney-General said during the visit of the group, neither does it reflect his disposition.

The writer of the initial report Adgizi Anthony has tendered an apology to the Honourable Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice and called on the general public to disregard the report in Nasarawa Mirror and any other outlet in its entirety.       

It is an establish fact that, the state Attorney-General has being a mentor and model to thousands of students that passed through him over his twenty years’ experience as a teacher in the Faculty of Law Nasarawa State University, Keffi.

Mr. Isaac Edoh. Esq

Solicitor General and Permanent Secretary

Ministry of Justice

Lafia

Nasarawa Gov. to grant amnesty to 100 prison inmates in Lafia Correctional Center


From Umar Muhammed, Lafia


Justice Aisha Barshru-Aliyu, the Chief Judge of Nasarawa State, has revealed that plans are under way to grant amnesty to over 100 prison inmates who have spent over 10 years in custody without hope of prosecution or trial in Lafia correctional center.
The Chief Judge of the state disclosed this at the end of two day workshop for Judges and lawyers across the 13 local government areas of the state on Tuesday in Lafia, the state capital.
Speaking on the theme: “Effective Administration of Criminal Justice in the ” New Normal”, she said that she has drafted a memo to governor Abdullahi Sule to look at it and grant them amnesty.
Daily Trust reports that the training was organized by the Attorney General Alliance Africa (AGA-Africa) in collaboration with the Nasarawa state, Ministry of Justice to acquaint judges and lawyers on criminal justice.
Her words: “We are not saying that they are not guilty, but we cannot prove their offences against them as there is no point of keeping them in clusters with the presence of COVID-19 effect.”
According to her, all the convicted inmates 700 inmates were situated in Lafia, saying that it is a security threat to the state this would go a long way in averting jail break in the state.
She opined that since they don’t need them in court anymore and they have been convicted and sentenced it is better the move them to a far away correctional center.
“Ten years in prison without hope of prosecution or trial isn’t better. Let them go and sin no more, so we are working towards that.
We have over 100 such defending cases in the state without hope of prosecution or trial it is better we allow them go,” she added.
She said Nasarawa state is one of the first in the north central region to constitute it administration of criminals justice monitory committee.
She stated that Nasarawa state is one of the first states in the North central region to constitute its Administration of Criminal Justice Monitoring Committee.
According to her, since inauguration, they have been able to decongest correctional facilities in the state, disclosing that during her last jail delivery about 48 inmates were released,.
She added that it is the highest number during any single jail delivery since the creation of the state in 1996.
“Also in line with the provision of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law, we are working on the designation of Magistrates to cover visitation to detention centers.
We are hoping will be monitored and reduce to the barest minimum,” she added.
Earlier, the state Attorney General and Commissioner of justice, Dr. Abdulkarim Kana, said the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges that came with it as well as the reality of the judiciary staff strike were a major set back to the certain implementation of the adminstration and criminal justice law in the state.
Kana, who represented governor Abdullahi Sule and who double as a board member of Attorney General Alliance Africa, said following the rising cases of crimes, there was need to establish more courts, noting that this would go a long way in reducing the work load on judges and it would enable them to work effectively and avert any delay of justice in the state.
He, however, revealed that at the moment the state ministry of justice is handling over 200 criminals and civil cases that are spread across 153 courts in the state.

UJ SUG Secretary General visits Nasarawa Attorney General

The Secretary General of the Students’ Union Government (SUG), Comrade Illah Lot Ajeh recently paid a courtesy visit to the Honourable Attorney/Commissioner of Justice, Assoc. Prof. Abdulkarim Abubakar Kana at his chamber in Lafia.

Ajeh who led other students students said, they visited the Assoc. prof. Kana to appreciates his contributions and to familiarize themselves with his office.

they assured to give the state government, through the office of the Attorney General all the necessary support to enable government succeeds in it affairs.

Nasarawa Govt, Pensioners’ resolve to pay gratuity on first come, first serve basis

There is hope in sight of the crisis that led to the recent freezing of account of Nasarawa State Government, as pensioners would soon smile to banks to access their gratuity.

 

This is just as the funds set aside by State Government for pensioners would be shared to them on first come, first serve basis among state and local government pensioners.

 

The state chairman, Nigeria Union of Pensioners, Alhaji Musa Obakpa drop the hint shortly after a meeting with government representative led by the commissioner, Ministry of Justice, Dr. Abdulkarim Abubakar Kana in Lafia.

 

The meeting which held at the office of the commissioner had in attendance the representative of the Nigeria Labour Congress and the organized labour.

 

“We were called for a meeting on how we will share the gratuity of pensioners. We, the concern group of pensioners and the Nigeria Union of Pensioners, we are all one.

 

“And at the meeting we agreed that the money government set aside to give pensioners in the state will be harmonized with that of the local government so that everyone will be carry along”, he said.

 

He further that, the initial idea of 30/70 as the sharing formula will be considered when the fund is ready for disbursement, but that it will be on first come, first serve.

 

He added, the secretary of the committee has been mandated to work out modalities of first come, first serve for those who went to court and those who didn’t.

 

NASARAWA GOVT REITERATE COMMITMENT TO PRIORITIZE TO WELFARE OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITY

      The Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Nasarawa State, Dr. Abdulkarim Abubakar Kana has reiterated the commitment of State Government to prioritize the welfare and well-being of persons with disability in the state.

       According to Kana, the State Government would accord them every support that would guarantee their safety in the state. The Attorney General gave the assurance at the foundation laying and fund raising of a multipurpose Secretariat for members of the Nigeria Association of the Blind, Nasarawa State Chapter.

The Secretariat which is estimated at the cost of Fifty Nine million naira is located behind the female hostel of Nasarawa State Polytechnic, Lafia.

         Dr. Kana who was represented by the Information Officer of the state Ministry of Justice, Anthony Adgidzi, expressed satisfaction with the achievements recorded thus far by the leadership of the association .He further assured that, the state government would do everything possible to prioritize the welfare of the blind, and by extension persons with disability. He noted that, there is ability in disability, and as such, no one should be heard or seen complaining of not having anything doing. “Let me remind you that the disability law has already been passed into law, with the support of the ministry of Justice.

“The idea behind the law is to ensure the state government renders you every assistant, so that you can have same quality of life as other able citizens.

       “Let me assured you that, the present administration of Governor Abdullahi Sule is ever committed towards the implementation of the law and provisions, and everything needed to help you in this project,” the commissioner said.

Dr. Kana then commended the association for the laudable initiative and urged them to sustain the tempo for the interest of its members.

         Earlier, State Chairman, Nigeria Association of the Blind, Shugaba Oloshu commented that, it has become imperative for them to engage in self-help project that would better their livelihood.

He added, the idea of the multipurpose Secretariat was to compliment the effort of the state government, as economic activities would be carried out to generate income for the association.

Oloshu said, “the Secretariat will in turn give birth to mathematical institute for the blind, which is a very wide gap needed to be filled especially within the central and core Northern Nigeria.”

           He explained that, the association was able to save some money and purchase the land out of the support it was getting from the state government, and assured members of the Public of judicious use of any kobo given them.

The leader of the blind who stressed of their ability and competence to deliver on any responsibility entrusted with, said “through the help of technology, the blind can virtually do all things without limitations, and that brought us to the achievements recorded”.

 

 

 

Governor Sule signs public procurement bill into law

Governor Abdullahi A. Sule of Nasarawa State said by signing the bill, Nasarawa has joined the league of transparent states.

He stated the need for a proper and efficient procurement agency to ensure the enforcement of the law to ensure accountability and transparency in governance.

The governor appreciated members of the assembly for their relentless efforts in seeing to the success of this bill.

The bill according to Governor Sule will avail the state the opportunity to benefit from world Bank support to states that have exhibited honesty and transparency.

Abdullahi Sule said “Today we have joined the league of elite states and we will henceforth begin to see the benefits of this singular act from IMF, World Bank and the rest”.

Speaking, the Speaker Nasarawa State House of Assembly, Ibrahim Balarabe Abdullahi stressed the importance of the bill which prompted the assembly to resume from recess to ensure the speedy deliberation and passage of the bill.

Balarabe applauded the commitment of the Governor to bring about the needed development of the state as he assured of the continuous support and cooperation of the assembly in the overall interest of the state.

In an opening remark, the Commissioner for Justice, Abdul Karim Kana said the Governor deemed it fit to come up with the law considering its important to development of the state.

SPEECH DELIVERED BY HIS EXCELLENCY, ENGR. ABDULLAHI A. SULE, GOVERNOR OF NASARAWA STATE ON THE OCCASION OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE VOLUNTEER GUARD (VIGILANTE), DOMESTICATION OF THE MODEL PENAL CODE, KIDNAPPING ACT PROHIBITION LAW AND CHILD’S RIGHT PROTECTION EXECUTIVE ORDER, LAFIA: WEDNESDAY, 26TH FEBRUARY, 2020

His Excellency, the Deputy Governor of Nasarawa State;

2. The Right Hon. Speaker, Nasarawa State House of Assembly;

3. The Hon. Chief Judge of Nasarawa State;

4. Principal Officers and Members of the State House of Assembly;

5. Members of the State Executive and Security Councils;

6. The Secretary to the Government of Nasarawa State;

7. The Head of the Civil Service;

8. The State Chairman, All Progressives Congress (APC);

9. Special Advisers;

10. Permanent Secretaries;

11. His Royal Highness, Hon. Justice Sidi Bage Muhammad I JSC (Rtd) Emir of Lafia and Chairman, Nasarawa State Council of Chiefs;

12. Chairmen and Chief Executives of Commissions, Boards and Parastatals;

13. Chairmen of Local Government Councils and overseers of Development Areas;

14. Gentlemen of the Press;

15. Ladies and gentlemen.

I am delighted to address you today on the occasion of the inauguration of the Committees to constitute the Volunteer Guard (Vigilante) and Domestication of Model Penal Code, 1960 (as amended in 2015), as well as assenting to the Nasarawa State Kidnapping Act Prohibition Law and the Protection and Implementation of the Child’s Right Protection Executive Order.

2. You would recall that in furtherance of our commitment to complement the efforts of our security Agencies in securing lives and property to ensure that emerging crimes and criminality are curtailed and contained, I directed the Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice to put in place necessary machinery for the constitution of Volunteer Guard (Vigilante) for the State and the Local Government Areas. This is in line with the domestication of the amended Model Penal Code of Northern Nigeria 2015. Having carried out the necessary processes in tune with the Court, we are gathered here today to witness the inauguration of the Nasarawa State Volunteer Guard which Executive Order I signed moment ago to give it effect.

3. As you are aware, during the recently concluded Security Summit for the North-Central Zone, the security architecture of the Zone and by extension, our dear country was appraised and recommendations made towards the enhanced security of our people. At that Summit, the issue of community policing was extensively deliberated and appropriate measures proffered to address the security challenges for the continued sustenance of peaceful co-existence among the diverse ethnic nationalities, not only in the region, but in the country at large.

4. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, it is against this background that we resolved to take deliberate steps in order to secure our environment to rise up to crime and criminalities to ensure that law and order are maintained at all times for the socio-economic development of our dear State.

5. I need to state that this measure is imperative in developing the policy framework for security sector reform, with a view to incorporating security actors in the formal and informal sectors including the community policing into the national security architecture. In this regard, the Volunteer Guard (Vigilante) is expected to complement the effort of the State Security Agencies, especially in the rural areas to respond effectively and adequately in the emerging security situations. Most importantly, it will help the State at all levels to rebuild and reinforce its law enforcement and security provisioning capacity through the partnership of the Nigeria Police Force with the community and all other stakeholders in order to make Nasarawa State a secured place.

6. It is pertinent to note that, this country is contending with a lot of security challenges, ranging from bomb explosions, armed robbery, human trafficking, kidnapping and abduction, murder, activities of Boko Haram sect, communal clashes and conflict between farmers and herdsmen, among others. Indeed, crimes and criminality have led to the proliferation of small arms and light weapons which are freely used by unpatriotic elements to achieve heinous and selfish aims. This unpleasant development has become worrisome and a cause for concern not only to the security agencies but to all and sundry.

7. I need to state that the Nasarawa State Kidnapping Act Prohibition Law was extensively deliberated and passed by the State House of Assembly. This bill spelled out various offences relating to kidnapping and prescribed stringent punishment for perpetrators, such as life imprisonment and dead penalty. In the same vein, it is important to note that buildings used in keeping victims of heinous crimes will henceforth be forfeited to Government.

8. It is worthy of note that Nasarawa State has domesticated the Penal Code Law of Northern Nigeria to enforce law and order by retaining most of the criminal law doctrines in the State without much alterations.

9. As part of today’s occasion, we are also gathered to assent to the Protection of Children and Implementation of the Child’s Right Protection Executive Order, 2005 of Nasarawa State pursuant to section 5 (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended. This will guarantee the safety, security, wellbeing, care, good health and education, as well as guarantee the future of our children.

 

10. Without sounding immodest, this Law apart from the prohibition of street begging, provides punishment for parents who out of irresponsibility threw away their children to street begging. In this regard, Government has taken measures to enroll our children into Tsangaya Schools with a view to addressing the menace.

11. Let me state that members of these Committees were selected based on their records of experience, professionalism, patriotism and pedigree. I charge you, therefore, to live above board and justify the confidence Government reposed in you. You must carry out your assignment diligently, devoid of any sentiment or favouritism.

12. I need to point out that the Commissioner of Police will chair this all important Committee. Other Members include heads of security agencies and other stakeholders in the State. To ensure the effective take off of this outfit, the Chairmen of Local Government Councils are hereby directed to constitute coordinating Committees comprising of Security Agencies and other Stockholders at the Local Government and Development Areas levels of the State to ensure the execution of this project. Accordingly, I appeal to our Traditional Rulers, Religious and Community Leaders to support this initiative for the good of all.

13. Let me take the liberty of this occasion to state that the State Volunteer Guard is not a security outfit and should not be used under whatever guise to promote or protect personal interest and inclination, it is essentially empanelled to complement the security agencies in the conduct of their onerous responsibilities of protecting the lives and property of the citizens.

14. On this note, it is my pleasure to inaugurate the Committees to constitute the Volunteer Guard (Vigilante) and Domestication of Model Penal Code, 1960 (as amended in 2015), as well as assent to the Protection and Implementation of the Child’s Right Protection Executive Order and Nasarawa State Kidnapping Act Prohibition Law.

15. Thank you and may God bless us all.

 
Gov. Sule approves death penalty for kidnappers in Nasarawa State

Nasarawa State Governor, Engineer Abdullahi Sule, has inaugurated a committee on community policing, the Community Volunteer Guards (Vigilante) Committee, as well as the Penal Code Reform Committee.

Inaugurating the two committees at a combined ceremony which held at the Taal Conference Hotel, Lafia, on Wednesday, Engineer Sule said it was in furtherance of the commitment of his administration to complement the efforts of security agencies in securing lives and property of the people of the state.

He noted further that it was also intended to ensure emerging crimes and criminality are curtailed and contained.

Engineer Sule disclosed that he earlier directed the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice to put in place necessary machinery for the constitution of the Volunteer Guard (Vigilante) for the state and local government areas, in line with the domestication of the amended Model Penal Code of Northern Nigeria 2015.

The Governor recalled the recently held North-Central security summit, where the security situation of the zone and country at large, were reviewed, with solutions proffered towards addressing the security challenges confronting the zone.

He explained that, it was against that background that his administration decided to take deliberate steps in order to secure the state and to ensure that law and order are maintained at all times for socio-economic development of the state.

While noting that it has become necessary to develop a policy framework for security sector reform, with a view to incorporating security actors in the formal and informal sectors, including the community policing policy into national security architecture, Engineer Sule stressed that the Volunteer Guard is expected to complement the effort of state security agencies, especially in rural areas.

Earlier, state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Associate Professor Abdulkarim Abubakar Kana, pointed out that the Penal Code Law of Nasarawa State was inherited from Northern Nigeria enacted in 1959.
He described the law as impracticable, particularly in the face of contemporary realities and modern crimes, explaining the constitution of relevant stakeholders and renowned scholars in law to draw up a Penal Code Law that meets the need of the present times.

Associate Prof Kana disclosed that the Nasarawa State Community Volunteer Guards (Vigilante) Law was signed into law in 2004 but was never implemented fully, leading to proliferation of vigilante groups without guidance and code of operations.

He pointed out that while records indicated that community vigilante groups in the state have become major partners in crime prevention and peace building, there is however need for proper coordination, explaining why Engineer Sule approved the composition of the members of the State Coordinating Committee, in line with the provision of the law.

Chairman of the CVGC and state Commissioner of Police, Bola Longe, in a vote of thanks, commended the Governor for being the only one in the country to set up a committee on community policing, promising, alongside other members of the committee, to effectively carry out their mandate and to ensure that the state remains secure and safe for socio-economic developments.