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Nigeria: Lalong Inaugurates Plateau State Judicial Service Commission; Signs VAPP Act Into Law

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By Joseph Edegbo:

Governor Simon Lalong has inaugurated Members of the Plateau State Judicial Service Commission with a charge to ensure that there is transparency, discipline and efficiency in the operations of the Judiciary in Plateau State.

Governor Lalong who inaugurated Chairman and members of the Commission at the New Government House Little Rayfield Jos said the body is saddled with the duty of advising the National Judicial Council on the Appointment and discipline of Judicial Officers including the Chief Judge; Grand Khadi of the Sharia Court of Appeal; President of the Customary Court of Appeal; Judges of the State High Court; as well as Khadis and Judges of the Sharia and Customary Courts of Appeal.

He said the Constitution powers them to also appoint, dismiss and exercise disciplinary control over the Registrars, Deputy Registrars of the Courts mentioned above as well as Magistrates, Judges and members of Area and Customary Courts. All other members of the Staff of the Judicial Service of Plateau State are expected to be supervised by this Commission.

Lalong said “Because our people deserve justice and fairness in Temple of Justice, it goes without saying that every process and bureaucracy of the Judiciary must be occupied by qualified and competent persons who will ensure smooth operations of the system. Any break in the chain of the Judiciary will have negative consequences on the society. It is therefore expected that you will work hard to ensure that the right persons are appointed into any office while such persons are guided and supervised to operate within the guidelines of the Judiciary. The era of misconduct, corruption, indiscipline, unnecessary delay of cases and other infractions should be over as you come on board”.

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Members of the Commission include the Chief Judge of Plateau State Hon. Justice David Mann (Chairman), Mr. Henry Lankwap (Member), Barr. Tony Agaga (Member), Barr. Stephen Abah (Member).

Meanwhile the Governor has signed into law the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act passed by the Plateau State House of Assembly.

The Governor said the signing of the law was very important because it will curb the menace of violence against women and children which is on the increase in the country. He said even men will receive protection against violence from the new law.

Lalong said the State Government will give all necessary support to the relevant agencies towards implementing the provisions of the VAAP Law in order to safeguard the safety of the citizens particularly the most vulnerable.

Giving the synopsis of the law, Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General of Plateau State Chrysanthus Ahmadu said the VAAP law which is the domestication of the law passed by the National Assembly is very comprehensive and deals with all areas of violence and rights of the citizens particularly women and children who are mostly affected by cultural practices and harmful traditions.

He said it is a specialised piece of Legislation that seeks to prevent violence against persons (VAP), by prohibiting certain acts and prescribing penalties for violation. While some of the offences are known to our Criminal Statutes such as the Penal Code Law of Plateau State many of the violent acts against persons sought to be contained are new.

Among some of the major acts of violence against persons which the Law prohibits and which are to be found in Clauses 3 to 26 of the Bill are offences such as rape which upon conviction attracts the punishment of life imprisonment and a person who aids, abets or conceals an offender also commits an offence and is liable to imprisonment for a minimum of 12 years imprisonment.

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Gang Rape also attracts imprisonment for a minimum of 20 years without an option of fine as well as award appropriate compensation to the victim as it may deem fit in the circumstance.

A marriage partner who forcefully evicts his/her partner from his/her home or refuses him/her access commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of not less than 2 years or to a fine of not less than N300,000 or to both such fine and imprisonment.

Anyone who incites, aids, or abets another to commit the offence of forceful ejection such as relatives/in-laws who eject widows or persons with disability is liable to imprisonment for a term of not less than one year or a fine of not less than N200,000 or both such fine and imprisonment.

On the Abandonment of spouse, children and other dependents – Clause 17(1) of the VAAP Law prescribes that any person who abandons a wife/husband, children or other dependents without any means of sustenance commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not less than three years or to fine of not less than N500,000 or to both.

The law also prohibits Spousal/Partner battery in Clause 20 which states that any person who stalks another commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not less than 2 years or a fine of not less than N500,000 or to both.

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