Governor Simon Bako Lalong has today sworn in the substantive Chief Judge of Plateau State Hon. Justice David Gwong Mann as Chief Justice of the State.
In his remarks he charged him to resist pressure from politicians and other vested interests to compromise the State Judiciary.
While performing the swearing in at the Victoria Gowon Hall, New Government House Little Rayfield Jos, Lalong said Hon. Justice David Gwong Mann has paid his dues in the Temple of Justice and through experience, talent and patriotism is by the grace of God elevated as the Chief Judge of the State.
He said “While I congratulate you on this well-deserved appointment, may I also remind my Lord that this task is a daunting one which calls for total dedication and commitment for the peace, progress and stability of Plateau State and Nigeria at large. Having spent your public life within this sector, no one can lecture you on what the citizens expect from you as the Head of this very important Arm of Government”.
He urged him not only see this elevation as call to duty, but also as a Trust given to him by God to represent him in the affairs of men. Staying true to his Oath of Office and discharging his duties with the fear of God and without fear, favour, affection or ill-will is therefore sacrosanct.
Lalong said the new Chief Judge was coming into office when the State was operating Autonomy of the three Arms of Government including the Judiciary. He therefore urged him to take advantage of all the latitude that this autonomy provides to ensure that Judicial Staff are well trained while the day-to-day running of the courts is seamless.
On Industrial harmony in the Judiciary, the Governor said “Only recently, the Judiciary Workers Union in Plateau State called off its Industrial Action which had paralyzed activities in all Courts and created untold hardship to many citizens who need one service or the other from the courts. While we put behind us this recent challenge, I urge you to do more to ensure that all matters that could lead to such action are addressed to forestall future strikes.You can count on the support of the Executive Arm of Government and the Legislature to work with you in helping you cultivate a cordial working relationship with the Staff. This is very necessary in order to consolidate on the efforts we have put in to reduce to the barest minimum all industrial disputes in the past 7 years.”
Lalong also drew the attention of the new Chief Judge to the challenges with speedy dispensation of justice particularly as it involves some suspects that are arraigned for violent crimes including terrorism.
“We have noticed that the longer such cases stay in the courts, the colder they become and the tendency to further impact on security and safety of not just witnesses, but of the citizens at large. Findings have shown that lack of conclusion of some of these cases on time has seemed to create an impression among criminals that they can carry out crimes and not be punished. It is our view that when such cases are dealt with expeditiously and those found guilty are punished, it will deter others hoping to engage in criminal acts” he said.
He also reminded His Lordship that political activities are in top gear at the moment ahead of the general elections in 2023 and this is the time when enormous pressure will be mounted on Judges by politicians who want to achieve their aims at all costs.
He advised him to beware of those who want to corrupt, confuse, intimidate or blackmail the Judiciary to do their bidding in order to win elections saying his is very capable of withstanding them and maintaining the sanctity of the Temple of Justice and the Legal profession.
Responding, Justice Mann said he was grateful to God for the opportunity to serve and the privilege to be elevated to the position of Chief Judge of Plateau State.
He promised to serve with integrity, honesty and justice as well as do his best to ensure that the rule of law is adhered to at all times.
Justice Mann also said he was aware of the challenges in the Judiciary and appealed for support and collaboration from the Executive and Legislative Arms as well as the Justices and other Judicial Staff and professional bodies.
The event was withnessed by key stakeholders in the State as well as the traditional council whom were mostly physically present.