ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, GOVERNOR YAHAYA BELLO OF KOGI STATE AT THE SWEARING-IN OF A NEW CHIEF JUDGE OF KOGI STATE AND A NEW PRESIDENT OF THE CUSTOMARY COURT OF APPEAL OF KOGI STATE RESPECTIVELY AT GOVERNMENT HOUSE, LOKOJA ON WEDNESDAY, 8TH JULY, 2020
I welcome everyone to this sober but momentous event. It is only proper that we continue to recognise and pay tribute to two extraordinary gentlemen who inspired us in their lives and left us severely diminished by their deaths. It is their passing which has necessitated these proceedings.
We lost the Honourable Justice Nasir Ajanah, the former Chief Judge of Kogi State and the Honourable Justice Ibrahim Shaibu Atadoga, the former President of the Kogi State Customary Court of Appeal within one week of each other. The shock has been profound, both for the state and for those left to mourn them.
Justice Nasir Ajanah was the longest serving Chief Judge in the history of Kogi State. He served during the tenures of 3 Governors. He was a brilliant legal mind distinguished by a massive wealth of experience. He piloted the Kogi State Judiciary with a firm hand, and defended the independence of the Judiciary and the doctrine of Separation of Powers as he saw fit, irrespective of any differences of opinion.
Justice Shuaibu Atadoga was on his part a workaholic judge who set stellar standards of excellence in the practice of his profession. He inspired reforms, including amendments to the enabling law which greatly expanded the roles of the Customary Court. It is no wonder that he was so effective as President of the Kogi State Customary Court of Appeal.
I have given serious thought to the lives of these revered legal minds, asking myself what should be the greatest lessons the living can learn from them. Two quotations immediately come to mind, which also summarise my tribute to them.
Chuck Palahniuk, an American author said, ‘We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.’
Ernest Hemingway, another American author wrote: ‘Every man’s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.’
In tribute, I am proud to say that the late Justice Ajanah and the late Justice Atadoga both teach us that selfless service to society is how to become immortal in the hearts of your fellow men. They achieved a legacy that will long outlive them. May the good works of their lordships speak for them in eternity and may their gentle souls continue to rest in peace.
A short while ago, we swore in replacements to fill the vacuum which their lordships’ exit has created in the fabric of governance in our state.
Kogi State is indeed fortunate to have found worthy successors in the person of the two lawlords to whom we have entrusted the high offices and responsibilities of the previous occupants.
I am empowered by section 271(4) and (5) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) to appoint the most senior judge in our Judiciary as the Chief Judge of Kogi State if the office becomes vacant for any reason, including death. I exercised that power on the 3rd day of July, 2020 to appoint the Honourable Justice H.A Olusiyi as Chief Judge of Kogi State. We have now sworn him in.
Similarly, section 281(4) and (5) of the Constitution grants me the powers, and I have exercised them via letter dated the same 3rd day of July, 2020 to appoint the Honourable Justice Bayo Olowosegun into office as the President of the Kogi State Customary Court of Appeal upon a vacancy occurring by death of his predecessor. My Lord is also the most senior judge of that court and he too was sworn in a while ago.
It now remains to enjoin the head of the Kogi State Judiciary and the President of the Customary Court of Appeal of Kogi State, both of whom we have just sworn in, to bring their considerable history as experienced jurists to bear in the administration of justice in this state.
We have no doubt that they will provide excellent leadership for our Judiciary and the state in general. We therefore charge them to execute all the functions of their respective offices with erudition and the fear of Almighty God.
Once more, I congratulate Your Lordships.
Let me conclude by reiterating something I have said over and over again since the Covid-19 situation was thrust upon the world. Nothing is altogether new under the sun. Whether the coronavirus or CoviD-19 or SARS-COV2 is natural or artificial and whether it came out of China or elsewhere, and whether by happenstance or hostile action, WE NEED AN EVOLVING SYNERGY BETWEEN SCIENCE AND COMMON SENSE, MEDICINE AND GOVERNANCE TO BEAT IT. That is the only way that citizens can find peace between the actual and the stated causes of death in a great number of cases.
To God be the Glory!
Governor of Kogi State
8 July 2020.