Fresh dawn greets justice administration in Oyo
A new dawn might be breaking in the administration of justice in Oyo State: court cases are being handled more quickly, even as premises are witnessing renovations.
A visit to the Iyaganku Magistrate Court, State High Court at Ring Road and other courts outside the capital reveals strides by the state judiciary to change the way things have always been.
One senior lawyer and octogenarian told The Guardian that in his over 50 years of practicing in the state, he had never witnessed changes as of the last few months.
“Cases are being speedily dispensed with, while unnecessary delays and injunctions are severely frowned at. An example is the case I am here for today. Before, I would just send someone from my chamber to come and file some form of motion and what we usually get back are counter-motions. If you do that now, you will have yourself to blame; nobody encourages prolonging of matters anymore. You file your motions and get yourself ready for hearings, immediately,” he said.
The premises and halls of the Iyaganku Magistrate Court and state High Courts along Ring Road are undergoing renovation. Workmen were seen putting finishing touches, especially at the old Iyaganku complex. The old wooden windows installed in 1950s are being replaced with modern fittings, while the fence of the Olubadan Stadium end of the complex is being rebuilt.
Governor Abiola Ajimobi praised Justice Abimbola during the recent 2016 Oyo State Law Week for carrying out the rehabilitation without the backing of the state government.
“I commend the efforts of the Chief Judge (CJ) of the State, Justice Muktar Abimbola, who despite the fact that the state government has not provided any financial backing for the state judiciary, because of the paucity of funds, has been carrying out major repairs and renovation in courts all over the state.”
Several lawyers also commended the state’s CJ. Barrister Toyin Awe, a female solicitor, said: “If we have these kinds of things in other states, the judiciary would be the better for it. The facilities in this state can rank among the best in the country. You can see that they had all been built a long time ago, but now they are fresh and effective.”
Prince Muraina Adegbagbe, who has been practicing in the city for over three decades, said: “We now have functional courtrooms where you don’t have to sweat like Christmas goats anymore. We have cool courtrooms and effective administration of justice. These have made things easier for everyone.”
Some lawyers attributed the transformation to the appointment of the current Chief Judge. “Never have we had it so good. He came and articulated his vision for the judiciary and has been following these to the letter. He has been busy bringing change to the courts and supervising things, said a Deputy Registrar.
Speaking under the condition of anonymity, a court official, said: “The CJ has put in place measures that would quicken the life span of court cases by ensuring total elimination of delay tactics. And he has been doing that by laying down personal examples. He holds sway in Court I of the state High Court himself and does not allow cases to drag on endlessly.
“When he came, he told all officials about his intention to improve the judiciary by fundamentally and radically changing the administration of justice, especially the operation of criminal procedures.”
The top official said the new boss is ensuring “the law wears a human face by commuting sentences of simple criminal offences to community service, especially for first time offenders. When you lump first-timers with violent criminals in jail, you make them violent criminals. Community service eliminates this risk and makes better citizens of these characters. ”
A member of the Evaluation, Monitoring and Compliance Committee set up by the Chief Judge said: “Even though there has been no official support from the state government, our boss has begun this revolutionary rejuvenation. He has started repairing all the court halls and he is set to start work on those outside Ibadan. We have the architectural designs of the Shaki Court complex already and work will begin immediately.
“He has been driving us (committee members) to perform with dispatch, while also delivering top-class, quality jobs. And he has been receiving a lot of accolades in this regard.”