Ekiti Customary Court of Appeal will broaden access to justice –Fayemi

Abiodun Nejo, Ado Ekiti

Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, said on Monday that the approval by the National Judicial Council for the establishment of Customary Court of Appeal for the state would expand access to justice.

Fayemi, who expressed concern that Ekiti did not, at present, have presence on the bench of the apex court, said, “To put it bluntly, the presence of Ekiti State needs to be felt in the Supreme Court. 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.”

The governor, who spoke in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, while swearing in four new judges, said that with their appointment, “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.”

Fayemi reminded the judges that “judicial office is an important public service vital to the health of our society and democracy,” adding, “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.”

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He said, “It is even more noteworthy that the NJC 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 among our rural population when the Court becomes fully operational.”

Fayemi also lauded the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Olawale Fapohunda, SAN, for the administration’s strides in the justice sector, which he said were results of the AG’s “industry, dedication and depth” for “constantly innovating and putting Ekiti on a trajectory of success and significance in the justice sector.”

He, however, said, “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 judges among other needs,” Fayemi said.

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