By Rotimi Ojomoyela
THE Ekiti Government has approved the operation of traditional palace courts in the bid to tackle crime in the state.
The state’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Olawale Fapohunda, made this known at an interactive session with traditional rulers at the Governor’s Office in Ado-Ekiti.
Fapohunda urged the traditional rulers to forward judgments emanating from the palace courts to the state government for compilation into a compendium.
He posited that traditional rulers play a very important role in the administration of justice, adding that palace courts were recognised by the government to dispense justice to the people in their communities.
The commissioner stressed that the compendium would serve as law reports to be known as Ekiti Palace Law Reports.
This, according to him, would enable people to ascertain the quality of judgments emanating from the palace courts in Ekiti.
The state government also solicited the cooperation of traditional rulers in the fight against sexual offenders and land grabbers.
Fapohunda said: “Violence against women and children is a major problem that we are experiencing now in Ekiti state
“We are vigorously working on the issue of wife battering because our legislation in that regard is not adequate
“But the issue that saddens us most is the issue of rape and child defilement
“It is becoming an embarrassment to the state, it challenges our values and the worse part of it is that it seems as if we are all used to it.
“It is the fact that we have all come to a stage in Ekiti State where we are not shocked that an old man is having carnal knowledge of a two-year-old child.
“We know that legislation alone cannot do this; we are vigorously prosecuting sex offenders in many cases
“I, as Attorney General, will personally lead the prosecution against any sex offender because the Fayemi government has zero tolerance for sexual violence in the state.’
Fapounda, while also soliciting the support of traditional rulers in curbing the menace of land grabbing, said the crime was sufficient to turn investors away from the state.
He said that most land conflicts were caused by people who do not have any title on land, but want to forcefully grab land.
The commissioner said if nothing was done urgently to curb the trend, it could lead to the breakdown of law and order.
The commissioner stated that there would henceforth be sanctions for every land grabber according to the law, including prison terms.
He said that a bill on land grabbing had already been presented to the House of Assembly for passage into law.
The commissioner urged the Bureau of Chieftaincy Affairs to circulate the draft of the bill among the traditional rulers to obtain their inputs
“We know that land in Ekiti state is crucial to economic agenda of the Fayemi administration.
“We think if it can be properly managed, then local and foreign partners, as well as investors, can come to Ekiti and be assured that when they want to acquire land for the purpose of their businesses there will not be issued.
“According to the present law, there are a number of provisions to be considered which consist of the prohibition of the forceful land takeover as well as the occupation of land that does not belong to anyone,” he said.
Responding on behalf of the traditional rulers, the Chairman of the Ekiti Council of Traditional Rulers, Oba Oluwole Ademolaju and the Ewi of Ado-Ekiti, Oba Adeyemo Adejugbe, commended the government for formally recognising the courts.