The Nigerian Bar Association in Ibadan made a formal request to Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State on Monday, urging him to strengthen the judiciary by adding justices and a new head of the Customary Court of Appeal.
Members of the association’s executive committee—Mrs. Folasade Aladeniyi, Olakunle Akintola, and Oluwatobi Fatoki—wrote a statement in which they made the request.
The report highlighted the fact that the Oyo State Customary Court of Appeal’s former president departed in 2023 without having a replacement chosen, in violation of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution.
The nomination of a successor to serve as the substantive president of the court was confirmed for confirmation by the National Judicial Council (NJC) on December 6, 2023. This development warrants attention. Up until this point, we had no idea that the Oyo State House of Assembly needed to be notified in order to confirm the successor, as stipulated in the Constitution.
“Delay in the circumstances is no longer golden,” the association claimed, and they urged the governor to investigate the situation immediately.
Additionally, the governor gave his approval for the Oyo State Judicial Service Commission to start the process of adding judges in 2021.
Afterwards, in 2023, an inspection team from the NJC went to the state to see if the incoming judges could use operable vehicles and confirm their availability. However, the process was delayed because no vehicles were made available.
Based on the number of judges who had retired or been promoted, the group emphasized that it was now expedient to nominate new judges in Oyo State.
The High Court in Oyo State is presently staffed by 23 justices, while the Customary Court of Appeal has three judges.
Because Oyo State is home to so many different cultures and ethnicities, these numbers significantly understate the number of judges required by the state. Cases are taking longer than expected to be resolved because sitting judges are overworked.
Oyo State is renowned as the Pace-Setter State, but it is falling behind other states when it comes to the timely appointment of judges, which is a concerning situation, according to the association.
Noting that the problem of delays in justice delivery would be effectively resolved once additional judges were appointed, it urged the governor to take the necessary action.
Additionally, we demand better conditions for our fellow employees at the state’s Ministry of Justice. Every day, they have to deal with the problem of not having enough cars to do their jobs or to represent the government in court. There have been rumblings of a deterioration in the ministry’s administrative process, which has resulted in inefficient service delivery to both the government and the public, according to the statement.