THE Chief Judge of Oyo State, Justice Munta Abimbola has decried the inadequate number of judges in the state’s judiciary.
Speaking during the 2019/2020 legal year at the state High Court on Monday, after special services held simultaneously at the Cathedral of St James, Oke Bola and the Central Mosque Oja’ba, Ibadan, Justice Abimbola said the Nigerian legal system was in dire need of judges to cater for the large number of cases being filed on daily basis.
While noting that despite the fact that the high court law as approved by the National Judicial Commission (NJC) requires the services of at least 40 judges, he said the state only has 26 judges, with the latest approval for three additional judges for the state by the NJC.
The chief judge, however, assured that the state judiciary had put in measures to ensure that the available judges were not overworked, promising that justice delivery would be fast-tracked with the fear of God in the new legal year.
Responding to a question on the number of judges in the state, Abimbola said: “Necessarily that question is a little bit disturbing. If we consider the number of cases, we will say we don’t have enough. Even statutorily, in our high court law, what we are entitled to have is about 40 judges and above, but presently we are 26. Within that context, we do not have enough judges.
“The Nigerian Judicial Council (NJC) has approved the appointments of three new judges for us and the governor, after approval, will put the selection process in place for the appointment of the judges.
Speaking on prison congestion, the Chief Judge said that measures had been put in place for the establishment of the fast tracking court in which suspects would be invited, interviewed and judgments passed immediately, instead of staying in prison awaiting trial.
He assured the people of the state that there would be an improved justice delivery system in this new legal year.
In his remarks Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde assured that his administration would provide “ingredients that will enhance the performance of the judiciary,” adding that his government would make the judicial arm work effectively without denying it what it needed to perform optimally.
Governor Makinde, who was represented by his deputy, Rauf Olaniyan, at the special service held at Central Mosque, Oja’Oba said that judiciary was the last hope of the common man, stressed that maintenance of peace and stability in the state could not be over- emphasized.
Earlier, in his sermon, the Archbishop, Ibadan Anglican Diocese, Most Reverend Joseph Akinfenwa, charged both the members of the bench and bar to maintain integrity, if the people must renew their faith in them.
The cleric also urged the state chapter of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) to strengthen and popularise the legal aid service to the poor and the downtrodden in the society, saying many suffer in silence and in the hands of various oppressors with no help in sight.