Osun State Governor, Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola and stakeholders in the Nigerian Judiciary have called for the establishment of a Court of Appeal Division in the state.
Stakeholders who called for the establishment of the Court of Appeal, included Chief Judge of Osun state, Justice Bola Adepele Ojo; Osun-based Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs)Mr. Yomi Aliu (SAN) , members of the Osun State Chapters of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), and representative of senior legal practitioners in the state, Mr.Vincent Abiodun Akinleye, among others.
The governor spoke in Osogbo during the commencement of the special sitting of the Court of Appeal, Akure Division, holden at the High Court of Justice in Osogbo on Monday.
The two-week programme is meant to enable the appellate court to attend to the many pending cases before the Justices emanating from Osun State.
The governor said: “I cannot end this address without lending my voice to the request of the stakeholders that you should graciously consider the possibility of having a Court of Appeal (division) sited in Osun state.
“I want assure you my Lords that our government would do everything possible to support this move”
Before the governor spoke, leaders of the Bench and Bar in the state in separate speeches urged the visiting Justices to assist in making a case for the establishment of a division of the court in Osun state.
With not less than 250 cases, Osun Stin state has the higher number of cases on appeal before the Justices of the Court of Appeal Akure Division which has appellate jurisdiction over Osun and Ondo States.
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.
Oyetola, who described Judiciary as a crucial arm of government, said the Court of Appeal remains a strong pillar of judicial and political expedition.
He received commendation for his support for the judicial arm of government since he came into office.
The governor said: “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.
“In this 20-year-old challenging democratic journey, the Judiciary has filled in the gap by providing the barometer for reaching the desired destination.
“At every turn, the Judiciary has lived up to its billing as the last hope of the common man. Indeed, the nation owes the gradual sanitization and stability of our democracy to the Judiciary.
“Your Lordships, your current assignment in Osun State is in furtherance of the Judiciary’s role as the arbiter and protector of the rule of law.
“The Judiciary has played this role with vigour and unblemished integrity. It has demonstrated to the people that it remains the filtering agent when unscrupulous elements muddle up our judicial waters.
“The Court of Appeal has established a reputation for itself as the home of landmark judgments in the nation.
“In furtherance of your resolve to build sustainable democracy and a just and peaceful nation, I urge Your Lordships to continue to uphold the tenets that have endeared you to the people as an institution of nobility, integrity and trust”, Oyetola said.
Justice Ojo, the Chief Judge, said the unprecedented special session was geared towards the facilitation of easy access to justice and bringing justice to the nooks and crannies of the state
She said the establishment of a Division of the Court of Appeal in Osun would bring relief to the burden of the many pending cases.
“Without prejudice to the present arrangement … I am persuaded, having considered the number of appeal cases said to be from Osun state and now pending before the Akure Division,that the time has come for a Division of the Court of Appeal to be established in Osun state.
“Without equivocation, 250 cases pending before a Court especially at the appellate level without more, is a workload sufficient enough for that Court to worry about for the next 6 months, if not more.
”Permit me to say that if justice is not to be delayed and thus, denied, an immediate solution, such as the establishment of a Division of the Court of Appeal in Osogbo, Osun state ought to be proffered”, she stated.
Aliu (SAN), who spoke on behalf of the senior lawyers, appealed to the President of the Court of Appeal to see the establishment of the Court of Appeal Division in Osun state as an urgent matter.
The Chairman of NBA, Osogbo Bamidele Ajibade and NBA Ilesa, Kanmi Ajibola, gave their support to the call.
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 a very due course, we will bring to the attention of the President of the Court of Appeal in agitation for the establishment of a Judicial Division of the Court of Appeal in Osun state”, she said
Justice Omoleye who led the 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.