26th July, 2011
The Ogun State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Wemimo Ogunde (SAN), and Justice Abiodun Akinyemi, today lamented the sorry condition of the state judiciary, saying it constitutes a major impediment to speedy delivery of justice.
The duo also agreed that the High Court of Ogun state (Civil Procedure) New Rules 2008 designed to fastâ€“track hearing and determination of civil cases, would not avail litigants much, if nothing is done to address challenges facing justice delivery system.
The two legal luminaries disclosed this today in Abeokuta, Ogun state, South West Nigeria, at this year’s Annual Chief Toye Coker Memorial Lecture cum end of Legal Year Luncheon of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Abeokuta Branch.
The Attorneyâ€“General who admitted that he has a â€œherculean task in his handsâ€, after seeing the condition of things, however assured that the new administration in Ogun State under the leadership of Sen. Ibikunle Amosun will bequeath to the state,â€™â€™ a ministry of justiceâ€ everybody would be proud of.
According to Ogunde,â€œafter seeing the state of affairs, I know that I have an herculean task on my hands, but I will do my best to improve the bar and bench in Ogun and ensure that I put together my constituency.â€
To demonstrate the seriousness attached to revamping the bar and bench in the state, in his remark, he hinted of his plan to constitute, â€˜Senior Lawyers Forumâ€™ comprising Senior Advocates of Nigeria and others who have garnered at least 20 years experience in legal practice.
According to him, â€˜â€™the team when eventually put together would be interacting periodically to proffer solutions on common problems facing the bar and bench.â€™â€™
In his lecture, Justice Akinyemi bemoaned the continued manual recording of courtsâ€™ proceedings by judges in Ogun state and said it is not only â€œan absolute disgraceâ€™â€™, but also causes proceedings to â€œcrawl at snail â€“ speed and slowly wears down the judge physically.
â€œLet it be said loud and clear, even with the best of Court Rules, and notwithstanding the willingness of lawyers and judges to expedite hearing of cases, the much desired speedy hearing of cases in our courts will remain a mirage and an unattainable pipe â€“ dream without electronic recording system being introduced in our courts room,â€ he said.
Justice Akinyemi of the State High Court, Sango Ota, explained that electronic recording system if introduced, will be one innovation that could take Ogun state justice system into the future, adding that other states have already moved in that direction.
He wondered whether the Chief Judge of Ogun state, Justice Charles Oluremi Jacobs, and others before him had done enough to convince past governors of the importance of equipping the courts with modern tools to enhance the judgesâ€™ operation.
The Justice who delivered a lecture titled: â€œInherent Challenges in the Workability of The Ogun State High Court Civil Procedure (Amendment) Rules, 2008,â€ said the Judicial arm should not be seen as a â€œbeggar or an aberration but as a legitimate and equal arm of government.â€
He indicted the past Attorneysâ€“ General of the state and even the leadership of NBA for not being catalysts and at the vanguard of campaign to nudge the executive arm of government to address the harsh working environment of the state judges.
He also called on the judicial arm to rise up and demand for its financial autonomy as enshrined in the constitution, stressing it should fight its battles, if others refused to do so on its behalf.
By Abiodun Onafuye/ Abeokuta