The Ibadan branch of the Nigerian Bar Association on Monday appealed to Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde to appoint a new Customary Court of Appeal president and more judges for efficient justice delivery.
The association appealed in a statement signed by its chairperson, Mrs Folasade Aladeniyi, the secretary, Mr Olakunle Akintola, and the publicity secretary, Mr Oluwatobi Fatoki.
It 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 December 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 until now.
“We hereby call on the governor to, as a matter of urgency, look into this matter, as delay in the circumstances is no longer golden,” the association stated.
It added that in 2021, the governor approved that the Oyo State Judicial Service Commission should begin the process of appointing more judges.
It stated that following 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 the 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 in the comity of states in the area of timely appointment of judges,” the association stressed.
It 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.
“We also call for improvement in the welfare of our colleagues serving at the state’s Ministry of Justice. They face the daily challenge of a lack of vehicles to discharge their assignments or to represent the government in court. Also, there are reports of a decline in the administrative process at the ministry, leading to ineffective service delivery to the government and the public,” it stated.