Over 250 individuals were yesterday sworn in by the Governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State as Justices of the Peace (JP) to assist government in dispensation of justice as well as maintenance of peace and tranquility in the state.
The new Justices of the Peace were sworn-in at a ceremony which held at the house of Chiefs, Agodi Secretariat, Ibadan.
Notable individuals among those sworn-in include: the deputy governor of the state, Otunba Moses Adeyemo, Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Olalekan Alli, Ajimobi’s Chief of Staff, Dr Gbade Ojo and the Special Adviser on Communication and Strategy, Mr Yomi Layinka.
Others are: the Chief Imam of Ibadanland, Sheikh AbdulGaniy Abubakri Agbotomokekere, Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Oyo State Chapter, Pastor Benjamin Akanmu among other prominent individuals.
Adeyemo, who was sworn-in by retired Justice Akintunde Boade, later swore-in all others on the list.
Represented by his deputy, Ajimobi, said the new Justices of the Peace were selected, having been adjudged worthy of being honoured with the title.
The governor implored them to use the new appointment to promote peace and delivery of untainted justice in their areas, particularly Oyo State and Nigeria.
He said: “As we all know that Justice is the bedrock of democracy, our administration would leave no stone unturned to see that justice is not only done, but seen to be manifestly done at all times. Towards this, an enabling environment is being made available for the judiciary in the state to discharge its duties without fear of favour.
“Apart from the recent appointment of some Magistrates and Senior Magistrates to the lower bench of the State Judiciary, Grade `A’ Customary Court Presidents are established for the first time in the state. Let it also be known that appointment of more Judges of the State High Court and the Customary Court of Appeal is ongoing and now before the National Judicial Council.”
According to the governor, the powers of a Justice of the Peace was to preserve peace, suppress riots and affray, disperse all disorderly and tumultuous assemblages and for any of these purposes to call in the aid and assistance of any person, who shall be found to obey all such lawful commands.
“Power to direct post-mortem examinations under section 12 of the Coroners Law; and
“All powers, rights and duties of a Magistrate under this or any other Law or act, subject of course to the constitutional provisions and other extant Laws”, the governor declared as the duties of the new JPs.
While emphasising that the Justices of the Peace are judicial officers whose appointment does not guarantee any immunity on actions taken or remunerations, Ajimobi urged the inductees to see their appointment as a great responsibility towards the promotion of peace, rule of law and good governance in their communities.
The Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in the state, Mr Oluseun Abimbola, said that the confidence government reposed in the JPs was an acknowledgement of cultural instinct of communal peace adding that they were been sworn-in because they have all been found to be fit and proper in disposition and character, a quality he urged them to maintain in their endeavours.
He said: “The Justice of the peace is an unpaid office, undertaken voluntarily and sometimes more for the sake of renown or the crave to be associated with the reign of peace in the community. And as such the concept of the justice of the peace is a form of selfless social service.
“JPs are ambassadors of peace at the grassroots, expected to familiarize themselves with their immediate neighbourhood, settle rifts, foster unity and help resolve conflict using their competences.”
He added that government was committed to enhancing their credibility as JP and that arrangements have been concluded to conduct accurate census of all JPs’ in the state to “sieve the grain from chaff and also to prevent impersonation, misuse or abuse of the powers conferred on them in the state.”
Earlier in a remark, the Permanent Secretary and Solicitor-General, Mr Adetunji Gbadegesin, said that government was ready to collaborate with the JPs in their new crusade of maintaining peace in the society.
He lauded the exercise, saying government had taken special care to ensure that those selected were deserving individuals of unquestionable integrity.
“While, the courts and the law enforcement agencies are trying their respective best, all hands ought to be on deck to ensure that normalcy and rule of law percolates down to the grassroots,
“The effort necessitated the concept of Justice of the Peace, who would complement the efforts of government agencies in the area of adherence to the dictates of Law”, Gbadegesin said.