As the 2019/2020 legal year began on Monday in Oyo State, the Chief Judge, Justice Munta Abimbola, has said that the state does not have adequate number of judges.
He hinged his remarks on the statutory standard of the National Judicial Commission (NJC) as well as the volume of cases being handled by the available judges in the state.
The chief judge said this while fielding questions from reporters after leading other judges to take the salute and inspect a parade mounted by the police at the State High Court, Ring Road, Ibadan, as part of activities to celebrate the commencement of the 2019/2020 legal year in the state.
The event was preceded by special services which held simultaneously at the Cathedral of St James The Great, Oke Bola, Ibadan and the Central Mosque, Oja’ba, Ibadan.
While noting that despite the fact that the high court law as approved by the 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 NJC had actually approved the appointment of three new judges for us and the governor; after approval, we will put the selection process in place and we will appoint more judges.”
However, to salvage the situation, 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 spoke through his deputy, Rauf Olaniyan, at the special service at the Central Mosque, Oja’Oba.
He added that he would not allow the judiciary to become handicapped and beg for their rights, saying he would ensure easy dispensation of justice during his tenure.
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.
He noted that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration had reiterated his mission to combat corruption and the judiciary must play its role, if the war must be won.