Jurists, Obaseki extol virtues of retiring Justice Rita Pemu
Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, has showered encomiums on retiring Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, Owerri Division, Justice Rita Nosakhare Pemu, as she bows out in honour from the judiciary after years of meritorious service to her fatherland.
Obaseki, who spoke among top echelons of the legal profession during a session held in honour of Justice Pemu, in Benin City, harped on decentralisation of the nation’s security system to tackle insecurity.
Appreciating her as a woman of impeccable character with unblemished record during her meritorious service to her fatherland, Obaseki made a case for the decentralisation of the nation’s security apparatus, among others.
He equally canvassed the need to ensure better community and local security architecture to support Federal Government security agencies to effectively tackle crime across the country.
Obaseki, who described the judiciary as the last hope of the common man, said: “For the judiciary in Nigeria, it’s the last hope for the citizens. You saw what happened on February 25, 2023. The calm and peace we experienced in the country following the election was that people know that there is an institution where people believe and hope that they will get justice. They are holding back, shielding their swords until the outcome of the judicial process.”
“Without the judiciary, the country would have been in crisis, as you can’t underestimate the role of our courts and the judiciary in any democracy. It’s the underpin upon which our democracy rests.”
On decentralising the security system, the governor said: “We, in Edo State, have dealt with security challenges by ensuring community participation and decentralisation of our security system. We believe and advocate that, to have an effective security system, it must be decentralised as the Federal Government can’t secure the entire country alone.
“We also advocate state and local government security structures. It’s only with this full complement that we can cover the security space of the country and make it safe for the Nigerian people. The issue of security is structural and should be addressed as such.”
On her part, the celebrant, Justice Pemu, said: “In any judicial system, I find out that the registry of the court is the pivot around, which every other department revolves. Once you sanitise the registry of a court, half of the problem is solved. The proactive and unadulterated registry is a blessing to any Court. No healthy registry, no court.”
Justice Pemu also expressed worry over the spate of insecurity in the country. She called for adequate security for judges, while describing her experience in the hands of gunmen as pathetic.
She recalled that her driver and two vehicles in her convoy were still missing after the ordeal years back in the custody of her captors, adding that security should be improved around judicial officers who are daily exposed to difficult challenges on the job. She said: “The issue of security for judges should be at the front burner as it appears that the judiciary, and indeed, judicial officers are targets.
“Just a couple of weeks ago, the chairman of a Customary Court in Imo State was dragged out of the court and shot dead in the course of performing his judicial functions. About two Sundays after, hoodlums burnt down a court in Imo State.
“On February 20, 2022, while travelling from Benin to Owerri, I was kidnapped by hoodlums within the Ihiala axis of Anambra State. It was only by the grace of God that I escaped with some of my staff. My driver and the two cars in our possession are still missing as I speak,” she lamented.
Justice Pemu, who also clocked 70, recently, said she had the best in her career at the Owerri Division, because she was able to navigate and circumvent very difficult challenges. She also said the judiciary must shun corruption as the court remains the last hope of common man.
“I leave behind in the Owerri Division, a sanitised registry and a calm court. I am certain that the lawyers and staff in that division will attest to this fact,” Justice Pemu said.
In his speech, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Edo State, Oluwole Iyamu, said: “My lord was known to be equally civil, patient, tolerant and exhibited an immensely high degree of ethical comportment in dealing with counsel.”
Also, the Presiding Justice, Court of Appeal, Benin Division, Justice Orji-Abadua Theresa Ngolika, said Justice Pemu is one of their brilliant Justices and has contributed greatly to the development of the judiciary.
“Humility was her watchword as she discharged her responsibilities as a judicial officer. She is 70 years and retiring without a blemish,” he declared. The highpoint of the event was the launch of a book titled, “Evidence of Grace: The remarkable life of Hon. Justice Rita Nosakhare Pemu,” by Governor Obaseki.