June 14, 2024

NBA Ibadan Branch Writes to Gov. Seyi Makinde on Delay in Appointing Judges in Oyo State and in Swearing in of the Substantive President of the Oyo State Customary Court of Appeal, and State of the Judiciary at Large

NIGERIAN BAR IBADAN BRANCH

30 January, 2024.

ENGR. OLUSEYI MAKINDE, FNSE

The Executive Governor of Oyo State, Governor’s Office, Oyo State Secretariat, Agodi, Ibadan.

Your Excellency,

DELAY IN APPOINTMENT OF JUDGES IN OYO STATE AND THE STATE OF JUDICIARY AT LARGE.

We write this letter on behalf of the Executive Committee and the entire members of the Nigerian Bar Association, Ibadan Branch.

The Executive Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association, Ibadan Branch has written series of letters to Your Excellency since the inception of the tenure of this Executive Committee in June, 2022. The letters requested for courtesy visits to Your Excellency so as to discuss issues affecting the administration of justice and the Judiciary at large in Oyo State, and generally state of affairs that the Bar is interested in as it directly impacts our social obligations as the exponent of Rule of Law and democratic watchdog. However, it is to our surprise that despite the myriad of letters acknowledged received, Your Excellency did not give the Bar any date for the courtesy visit or reply any of the letters except the one we wrote congratulating Your Excellency’s success at the polls for a second term in the Office

It is in the light of the foregoing that the Executive Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association, Ibadan Branch resolved to write this letter to Your Excellency wherein we intend to raise some vital issues affecting the administration of Justice in Oyo State among other issues particularly the delay in the appointment of High Court Judges in Oyo State and the state of the Judiciary in Oyo State.

Your Excellency, for clarity of issues, we shall discuss the issues of concern seriatim:

  1. DELAY IN APPOINTMENT OF HIGH COURT JUDGES.

The Judicial Service Commission in Oyo State is the body charged with the responsibility of appointing Judges and Magistrates in Oyo State. The body has commenced the process of appointing High Court Judges since 2021. The commission has shortlisted eligible candidates for appointment and sent the names of the eligible candidates to the National Judicial Council for approval. However, the National Judicial Council is to conduct inspection in the state in order to ascertain the availability of necessary facilities for the Judges such as the Court rooms, offices, accommodation, official vehicles etc. The approval for the appointment of Judges can only be made by the National Judicial Council, if all these aforementioned facilities are in place.

The Bar was reliably informed that on 30th October, 2023, the inspection team from the National Judicial Council visited Oyo State in order to conduct inspection on the facilities. The inspection team inspected the Court rooms and all other necessary facilities at the High Court and later proceeded to the State Secretariat to inspect the official cars to be designated for the High Court Judges. We were reliably informed that the inspection team could not find any designated official vehicles. The Inspectors thereafter reported to the National Judicial Council that Oyo State has not fulfilled the necessary criteria for the approval and as such the exercise was boycotted

Your Excellency Sir, non-availability of official vehicles for the new High Court Judges is the sole cause of delay in the appointment of Judges in Oyo State. It is to be noted, Your Excellency Sir, that Oyo State Judiciary is short of Judges with at least 15 judges minimally. The Judges in Oyo State are already overwhelmed with cases as an average Judge in Oyo State Judiciary has in his docket over 800 (Eight Hundred) pending cases.

Also, the delay in appointment of Judges has caused serious delay in hearing of cases in our Courts, thereby leading to backlogs of cases.

From the foregoing, we therefore humbly request that Your Excellency looks into this issue and provide official cars for the new High Court Judges. We believe that with this in place, the exercise will ensure speedy approval from the National Judicial Council.

II.DELAY IN SWEARING IN OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE OYO STATE CUSTOMARY COURT OF APPEAL.

Your Excellency Sir, the National Judicial Council has cleared and gave approval for the appointment of Honourable Justice T. M. Abdul-Ganiyu in 2023. However, the bar observed that Your Excellency has not forwarded His Lordship’s name to the House of Assembly for screening and clearance. We observed that the failure to send the name to the House of Assembly for screening and clearance may further delay the swearing in as the substantive President of the Oyo State Customary Court of Appeal. We most humbly urge Your Excellency to forward the name of His Lordship, Honourable Justice T.M. Abdul-Ganiyu to the House of Assembly for clearance and we pray Your Excellency to ensure the swearing in of Hon. Justice T.M. Abdul-Ganiyu as the President of the Oyo State Customary Court of Appeal in no distant time.

III. STATE OF THE BUILDING PROJECT AT THE HIGH COURT, RING- ROAD.

The Executive Committee of the Bar appreciates Your Excellency on the recent construction of the Ceremonial Hall at the High Court, Ring-Road, Ibadan and the rehabilitation of the High Courts and Magistrates Court roads. However, we observe that the construction of the ceremonial hall is not up to standard as the building is not well supported by viable pillars. The pillars upon which the building stands are very tiny, weak and not that strong in our observation. We therefore humbly call on Your Excellency to call the contractor to order by ordering that the structural inspection of the building be conducted by the relevant agencies of the government. We raised this, to avoid unnecessary mishaps as the building is for public use which will eventually accommodate large numbers of people upon completion.

IV. STATE OF OYO STATE JUDICIARY AND NON-IMPLEMENTATION OF FINANCIAL AUTONOMY OF THE OYO STATE JUDICIARY.

The Judiciary is an independent arm of government under the Nigerian Constitution which is saddled with the very important role of administration of justice. Your Excellency would readily agree that one of the very fundamental features of any democracy is the independence of the judicial arm of government. Where the independence of the judicial arm of government is hampered or is by any means not fully subscribed to, the implications for the socio-economic fortunes of the state can be better Imagined. The dependence of the judiciary on the executive arm of government for its budget and funding has manifested in poor and decrepit judicial infrastructures, low morale among judicial workers, alleged corruption in the judiciary, delay in the administration of justice and perhaps most disturbing, declining confidence of the masses in the Judiciary and its independence.

It is against the backdrop above, that the Bar as a major stakeholder in the justice sector with specific mandate to promote the rule of law in Nigeria is requesting Your Excellency to set in motion the process of implementing the financial autonomy of the Oyo State Judiciary in the Interest of our democracy. We believe that this will not only be the right thing to do, but also noble thing to do, and it has the potentials of etching Your Excellency’s name on the sands of our nation’s history.

Your Excellency Sir, the Bar looks to Your Excellency’s prompt actions on all the issues raised above and appreciates your good office if the issue of appointment of the High Court Judges and the swearing in of the Acting President as the Substantive President of the Oyo State Customary Court of Appeal can be sorted within few weeks from the date of this letter.

Please accept the assurances of our highest consideration.

Yours faithfully,

FOLASADE ALADENIYI (MRS.) Chairman

OLAKUNLE AKINTOLA ESQ. Secretary

CC: The Attorney General Oyo State, Oyo State Ministry of Justice Agodi State Secretariat Ibadan, Oyo State


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