Text of the Address by
Dr. Kayode Fayemi, CON
Governor, Ekiti State, Nigeria
on the occasion of the
SWEARING-IN CEREMONY OF NEWLY APPOINTED JUDGES OF THE EKITI STATE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State
Monday, January 24, 2022
1.Let me say immediately that today’s activity gives me enormous pleasure. I am pleased to convey Government’s warmest congratulations and best wishes to our four new judges and their families on this significant occasion.
2.Your Lordships will recall that one issue that I have consistently raised at every interaction with Justice Sector Stakeholders in this State in the need for the State Judicial ServiceCommission to undertake a holistic review of entry requirements to the bench including the need to consider diversity in making the appointments.
3.Specifically, I have often spoken about the unsatisfactory composition of our High Court particularly as it relates to gender disparity as well as the need for the Commission to consider the desirability of elevating younger persons.
Given the giant strides the State has made in the area of the promotion and protection of the rights of women, it seems incongruous that we have till date struggled with the appointment of women to the bench.
4. My suggestion that consideration be given to the appointment of younger persons is simply based on what I imagine should be our collective desire to build on the sterling legacies of Justices Ogundare, Olatawura and Adekeye in the Supreme Court. To put it bluntly, the presence of Ekiti State needs to be felt in the Supreme Court. Furthermore, the array of legal luminaries of Ekiti State origin makes a compelling case for us to aspire to the bench of the highest court of our country.
5.It is simply inexplicable that despite all the contributions of these eminent legal personalities to the growth and development of the law and practice in Nigeria, we do not currently have a presence on the bench of the Supreme Court. It is for these reasons that today’s occasion gives me enormous pleasure. I am particularly delighted that the Judicial Service Commission has positively responded to these concerns.
6.The gender disparity challenge has been addressed in a manner that also took into consideration the need to appoint young persons. This is progress but allow me to say that we should strive to build on this for future appointments. It is also important to stress that while diversity on our bench is desirable, only persons of ability, integrity and standing in the legal profession should be so appointed.
7. It is noteworthy that these appointments have been made in the final year of my administration. The justice sector as well as other sectors of governance is currently undergoing a review with emphasis on enabling a framework for sustaining our key interventions. There is no doubt that we have made giant strides in the area of administration of justice. Significantly, we have undertaken a major review of our criminal and civil justice legal regime. We have enabled fundamental amendments to our criminal law in response to citizens concerns on crime and security.
8. Today, we are possibly the only State in the federation with a specific legislation on the administration of civil justice. Ultimately, it is the enforcement of these laws especially through decisions handed down by our courts that will determine their sustainability.
9. I will be the first to admit that we need to do a lot more about the conditions of service of our judicial officers. There is a long list of things to do including the remodeling and in some cases outright demolition and reconstruction of some of our courts especially those outside Ado Ekiti as well as the purchase of new vehicles for all our judges. This is a priority. It would also be necessary to embark in due course on the purchase of medical insurance and provision of retirement homes for retired judgesamong other needs.
10. I am pleased to announce that the implementation of the Judicial (Financial Management) Law will commence this month. The Honourable Commissioner advises me for Finance and Economic Development has informed me that the first meeting of the State financial allocation committee as established by law will be held this week. Government has also noted the complaints of judicial workers about outstanding arrears of salaries. I have directed the Honourable Commissioner for Finance to immediately pay one month of the arrears owed while we intensify our efforts to clear all outstanding arrears.
11.In congratulating our new judges on their appointments, I do believe that they are aware that judicial office is an important public service vital to the health of our society and democracy. The role of the Judge demands much of the holder of that role. I am confident that you will exercise this important role with seriousness, good judgment and distinction. Thankfully there is a legacy that can serve as your guide. In the period that I have come to know judges from the state judiciary, I have seen the depth of their commitment to the work they do. It is no mean feat that our judiciary continues to be a shining example of a judiciary with integrity and independence of thought. It is even more noteworthy that the National Judicial Council has also approved the establishment of the Customary Court of Appeal in Ekiti State – a decision which is bound to broaden access to justice in our State – especially amongst our rural population when the Court becomes fully operational.
12.It is very easy for me to claim credit for all these strides in the Justice Sector as Governor. Let me however, say to this august audience that while the buck stops at my desk, none of these significant developments would have been possible without the industry, dedication and depth of the Honourable Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice who is constantly innovating and putting Ekiti on a trajectory of success and significance in the justice sector. The credit therefore goes largely to him and his team in the Ministry of Justice and we are immensely grateful to him.
13.May I now formally welcome My Lords, Honourable Justices Apuabi Ariyibi, Olalekan Olatawura, OyinkansolaOluboyede and Blessing Ajileye to the High Court of Ekiti State. It is my prayer that your Lordships will hold fast to the judicial oath and you will strive to do right to all manner of people according to the laws of Ekiti State and Nigeria.
14.I thank you all for listening
Dr. Kayode Fayemi, CON