17th August, 2020
By Ariwodola Idowu
The Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Dr Kayode Fayemi said governors are in support of judicial autonomy although the challenge is how it will be implemented.
Fayemi, the governor of Ekiti, made this known on Monday when he received Mr Olumide Akpata, the newly elected President of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) in his office.
He recalled that he had led a delegation, on behalf of the forum, to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Tanko Mohammad and the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, on the matter.
According to him, the meeting was aimed at reaching a common front on the modalities for the implementation of the new policy across the country.
Governors, he said, believe that judicial reform remain the engine room of any democracy and necessary reforms must be undertaken to promote the rule of law.
“One thing that is a priority to us in the Nigeria Governors’ Forum is the issue of judicial autonomy.
“All governors in Nigeria are for judicial autonomy but the contention had always been the modality for its implementation.
“I have met with the CJN and President of the Court of Appeal to work out the modalities for its implementation in such a way that it will be mutually beneficial.
“We consider judicial autonomy a critical component of our democratic growth and we must ensure that it happens.
“In Ekiti here, matters of Justice Sector Reform is so dear to our heart and we are ready to work with NBA to fast track action on this for the sake of our judiciary,” he said.
Fayemi appealed to the NBA president to partner Ekiti lawyers and give them a sense of belonging in the union.
He said Ekiti had a long history of producing good lawyers who could be encouraged to become Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs).
He gave an assurance that the government of Ekiti and the NGF would back Akpata to succeed.
” I have no doubt that your tenure will bring transformation to NBA in many areas. I have two distinguished members of the bar from my state who partook in the race.
“But whatever happens, we are ready to queue behind the winner. I am not only assuring you of Ekiti support, but that of NGF,” he said.
Akpata, on his part, promised to bring radical development to NBA through promotion of welfare packages for lawyers.
He said the body would not be a spectator in the task of injecting reform into the nation’s judiciary, adding that NBA would be a partner in the quest for judicial autonomy.
“There will be constructive engagements with the governors so that they won’t pay lip-service to the implementation.
“We won’t be sitting on the fence regarding this. In the absence of autonomy, what we have is an emasculated judiciary and it is the people that will suffer when this happens.
“To achieve this, we will work closely with policymakers to ensure that we tighten all loose ends in our constitution.
“We will ensure that the rule of law is respected. We will also work with the NGF to strengthen the judicial institutions for the sake of all Nigerians,” Akpata said. (NAN)