Governor of Oyo state, Seyi Makinde, has reiterated that his administration believes that a fair and impartial legal system that upholds the rule of law and protects the rights of all individuals is inevitable and as such, would continue to create an enabling environment for the rule of law to flourish.
He said the significance of the Rule of Law in maintaining peace, order, and democracy within the State is paramount to Government, adding that his administration’s dedication to defending the rule of law endures notwithstanding personnel changes within the current government.
The governor, who was represented by his deputy, Barrister Abdul-Raheem Adebayo Lawal, stated these at a prayer session held at the Oja Oba Central Mosque to mark the commencement of the new Legal Year, 2023/2024, on Monday.
He noted that in keeping with the Omituntun 2.0 Agenda, Government is committed to tackling arbitrary exercise of Power and enforcing all Laws that would lead to sustainable development of the State.
He added that the cardinal objective of the Judiciary is to protect the rights, and interests of the people by rendering its constitutional powers impartially in accordance with the law, without being subjected to any form of restrictions, undue influences, inducement, and pressures.
In his words, “As we gathered here today to commemorate the commencement of the new lega year, it is only fitting that we take a moment to pay tribute to our Judges. Their unwavering dedication, resilience in the face of challenges, and tireless efforts have been the driving force behind the achievements we are celebrating.
“Our Judges are the pillars of justice, guiding our legal system with wisdom and impartiality, poring over complex cases, weighing evidence, and delivering judgments that shape the lives of our citizens. They do so with unwavering dedication to upholding the Rule of Law, even in the face of adversity. Their integrity and commitment to justice have been instrumental in ensuring that the wheels of justice keep turning.
“In order to strengthen the course of justice, the present administration made the Judiciary one of its priorities by the seamless appointment of a new Chief Judge upon the retirement of her predecessor in office, My Lord, Justice Muktar Abimbola Retired.
“The Oyo State Judiciary has once again distinguished itself with the elevation of Justice L. A. Ganiyu to the Court of Appeal. This elevation represents a significant accomplishment not just for My Lord but also for our justice system as a whole, it is a testament to the dedication and excellence displayed by every member of the Judiciary in Oyo State. I pray that God grants My Lord the necessary wisdom and guidance to perform the responsibilities of this new office.
“To the legal practitioners, who play divine roles in ensuring that justice is served. Their diligence, preparation, and advocacy skills are the driving force behind the pursuit of truth in our courtrooms. They dedicate countless hours to research, legal analysis and arguments, all in the name of securing justice for their clients.
“We cannot but acknowledge the unsung heroes, the staff of the Judiciary, who play an indispensable role in ensuring the smooth functioning of our courts. They handle the administrative burdens, manage court records. Their commitment often goes unnoticed but is no less vital to our collective mission.
“It is of course common knowledge that the courts in all jurisdictions are currently undergoing extensive renovations. The outdated infrastructure has long been a concern for us, and we have undertaken this project to ensure that our judicial system is housed in modern and comfortable facilities. This will not only enhance the working conditions for our Judges and legal practitioners but wil also create an atmosphere that promotes justice and fairness. There is a massive ongoing infrastructural development within the High Court Complex Ring-Road.”
Makinde, who took the opportunity to commend the diligent work of the Judicial Service Commission in the appointment of 15 new magistrates, however said that the individuals have been carefully selected based on their merit and integrity, ensuring that the Oyo state Judiciary is bolstered by competent professionals who will contribute to the administration of justice in our society.
He said: “The appointment of these magistrates reflect our commitment to enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of our court system.
“I am pleased to inform you that the process of appointing new Judges is nearing completion. This endeavour, which required meticulous evaluation and scrutiny, has been undertaken to strengthen our judicial Bench and ensure that justice is dispensed impartially and promptly. These appointments will undoubtedly enhance the capacity of our Judiciary to handle the increasing workload and serve justice to our people without delay. I am confident that these appontments will be finalized during the course of the 2023/2024 legal year.
“We firmly believe that these accomplishments pave the way for a new legal year filled with even greater progress and positive change. As we embark on this new legal year, let us hold onto the belief that we can achieve even greater heights with renewed dedication and unwavering determination, let us forge ahead together in our pursuit of a fair, just, and thriving society.
“As we embark on this new legal year, let us continue to support and uplift one another, recognizing that our collective strength lies in our unity and shared dedication to the cause of justice. Together, we can overcome any challenge that lies ahead and continue to serve the people of Oyo State with honour and distinction.
“Thank you for your unwavering commitment to justice. Your dedication is an inspiration to us all,” he said.
Earlier in his good will message, the chairman of the Muslim Lawyers’ Association of Nigeria (MULAN), Oyo state branch, Alhaji Ismail Akorede Saka, noted with deep concern the undue delay in the appointment of more Judges into the Oyo State Judiciary.
He said that the number of Judges in the Oyo State Judiciary is grossly inadequate and this has led to very heavy workloads on the existing Judges and this ultimately slows down the pace of Justice delivery.
According to him, a situation where a Judge would have to oversee two – three Judicial Divisions is an anomaly (which probably exists only in Oyo State) as it puts the health and safety of the Judges at risk as they shuttle intermittently between the various Divisions under their jurisdiction attending to heavy loads of cases that should be attended to by two-three Judges. Every Judicial Division deserves a permanent/full-time Judge.
Saka, who commend the Judicial Service Commission headed by the Chief Judge for appointing 15 new Magistrates, however appealed to the state government for the provision of cars and welfare packages for the judges of the lower branch.
He also urge the State to create practical and effective methods that will cushion the effect of the Subsidy removal on the generality of the people as well as creation of Non-Interest Loan Schemes and the provision of stable power supply.
Among other demands made by the chairman include renovation of additional courts; protection against oppression of Hijab wearing Muslims in public institutions; creation of economic opportunities for the youth and access to Justice.