Bringing justice closer to the people
From Fisayo Akinduro
Judiciary has always been the hope of a common man as it dispenses justice accordingly.
Over the years, the institution, which is the third arm of government had proved its usefulness in resolving knotty issues which could have thrown the country into chaos.
Nigeria judiciary which comprises the Supreme Court as the highest court, followed by the Court of Appeal, the High Court, Magistrates’ Court and Customary Court has been the bedrock and institution checking and correcting the excesses of the executive arm of government.
On April 8, 2019, the Court of Appeal, Akure division deemed it fit to open a special court sitting in Osogbo for two weeks.
This came as a result of the number of cases being brought to the appellate court in Akure from Osun state.
From the records, Osun state has over 250 cases before the Court of Appeal, Akure division which may last more than six months before completion.
The opening ceremony of the special court session was filled to the brim with members of the bench, lawyers, litigants and traditional rulers in attendant.
Some of the stakeholders that called for the establishment of the Court of Appeal, are; Chief Judge of Osun state, Justice Bola Adepele Ojo; Osun-based Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Yomi Aliu, members of the Osun State chapter of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), and representative of Senior Legal Practitioners in the state, Mr. Vincent Abiodun Akinleye, among others.
Some concerned legal practitioners seized the opportunity to request for the establishment of the Court of Appeal in the state.
Some of the stakeholders said plying the road to Akure for Appeal Court cases was worrisome and a great risk.
The 86km distance from Osogbo to Akure was described as a tiring and great risk legal practitioners and litigants plied to the Akure division of the court.
The move for the establishment of the court which was applauded by all present would bring justice to the doorsteps of the people in Osun state.
Speaking during the sitting, the Chief judge and host of the special sitting, Justice Adepele Ojo appealed to the Justices of the Appellate court to ensure the establishment of the court in Osun state becomes a reality.
She said the establishment of a division of the Appellate court would bring relief to the burden of many pending cases and would facilitate easy access to justice.
The state governor, Gboyega Oyetola in his address assured that his administration would do everything possible to support the establishment of the court in the state.
He described the judiciary as a crucial arm of government, saying the Court of Appeal remains a strong pillar of judicial and political expedition.
“Enthroning democracy and the rule of law in our nation’s Fourth Republic has been particularly challenging in our peculiar environment where democratic institutions are weak and are struggling for identity and credibility.”
The governor said the Court has established a reputation for itself as the home of landmark judgments in the nation.
He said in order to build a sustainable democracy and a just and peaceful nation, he urged the judges of the Appellate court to continue to uphold the tenets that have endeared them to the people as an institution of nobility, integrity and trust.
The Chairman, Nigeria Bar Association, Ilesa, Mr Kanmk Ajibola in his submission said since the highest number of cases from the state comes from Ilesa, he urged the presiding justices to bring the court to Ilesa as adequate preparations will be made for the smooth running of the court.
Speaking on behalf of the lawyers, an Osun based Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Yomi Aliyu appealed to the Court of Appeal, Akure division to see the establishment of the court as an urgent matter.
Responding, the Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, Akure Judicial Division, Justice Oyebisi Omoleye promised to take the request for the establishment of the Court of Appeal in Osun to the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa.
“In due course, we will bring to the attention of the President of the Court of Appeal the agitation for the establishment of a Judicial Division of the Court of Appeal in Osun state”, she said
Justice Omoleye who led three other Judges: Justice Muhammed Danjuma; Justice Ridwan Abdullahi and Justice Patricia Ajuna Mahmoud, commended Governor Oyetola for his support for the Judiciary and the temporary relocation of the Court to Osogbo.
She added: “Since the period that I have been the head of the Court of Appeal sitting in Akure, I have noticed that Osun has a huge number of appeals in this Division.
“But commendably, litigants and their counsels flock the Court in Akure on daily basis, sitting sometimes for hours to ensure the hearing and disposal of their matters.
She noted that it is in appreciation of their efforts and amelioration of the hardship involved that the Division has shifted its sitting to Osogbo for two sitting week.
It was the first time the Court, established 10 years ago, will move its sitting to Osun state to take justice closer to the people.