By Chidinma Ewunonu-Aluko
The Ibadan branch of the Nigerian Bar Association(NBA) on Monday appealed to Oyo State’s Gov. Seyi Makinde to appoint substantive Customary Court of Appeal president and more judges for efficient justice delivery.
The association made the appeal in a statement signed by its chairperson, Mrs Folasade Aladeniyi, the Secretary, Mr Olakunle Akintola and made available to News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) by the Publicity Secretary, Mr Oluwatobi Fatoki.
The association noted that the immediate past President of the Oyo State Customary Court of Appeal retired in 2023 and a successor had not been appointed as demanded by Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution
“It is noteworthy that the National Judicial Council (NJC) confirmed the nomination of a successor for approval as the substantive president of the court on Dec. 6, 2023.
“We are not aware that the name of the successor has been forwarded to the Oyo State House of Assembly for confirmation as required by the Constitution till now.
“We hereby call on the governor to, as a matter of urgency, look into this matter as delay in the circumstance is no longer golden,’’ the association stated.
They added that in 2021, the governor approved that the Oyo State Judicial Service Commission should begin the process of appointing more judges.
The NBA members stated that following on this, an NJC inspection team visited the state in 2023 to confirm availability and inspect operational vehicles for the incoming judges, but none was made available, thereby stalling the process.
The association stressed that the appointment of new judges had become expedient in Oyo State going by the number of judges who had either retired or had been elevated.
“Oyo State currently has 23 judges in the High Court and three judges in the Customary Court of Appeal.
“These figures are far below the number of judges needed on Oyo State Bench given the cosmopolitan nature of the state.
“Sitting judges are overwhelmed and this has continued to cause delays in the disposal of cases in the courts.
“This state of affairs is worrisome since Oyo State, known as the `Pace-Setter’ state, is lagging behind in the comity of states in the area of timely appointment of judges,’’ the association stressed.
They appealed to the governor to do the needful, noting that the challenge posed by delays in justice delivery would be effectively addressed once more judges were appointed.
“The major clog delaying the instant appointment is the non provision of operational vehicles and other NJC’s requirements for the proposed appointees by the Oyo State Government which requirements are conditions precedent for the approval, appointment and confirmation of the proposed Judges to the Oyo State High Court,” they said.
The association added that the members observed the generosity of Gov. Makinde in gifting out vehicles of high standards to prominent musicians, Journalists, Security agents and most recently to the State Secretary of PDP.
“We urge your Excellency to look in the direction of the Oyo State Judiciary and kindly do the needful, the challenge of delay in obtaining Justice will be effectively addressed once more judges are appointed to the Oyo State Bench.
“We also call for improvement in the welfare of our colleagues serving at the state’s Ministry of Justice.
“They face daily challenges of lack of vehicles to discharge their assignments or to represent government in court.
“Also, there are reports of decline in the administrative process at the ministry leading to ineffective service delivery to the government and to the public.
“In all, the NBA Ibadan branch wishes Your Excellency a successful tenure as we hope that the foregoing issues raised herein will be addressed in earnest for effective administration of Justice in Oyo State.
“We thank your Excellency in anticipation and assure him of our esteemed regards as always,” they stated. (NAN)