By Bimbo Akindunbi & Olusola Alatise
Mr Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), Ondo State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice
Members of the Bar and the Bench in Ondo State have been charged not to compromise the rule of law in the dispensation of justice for the sustenance of the nation’s democracy.
Ondo State Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko gave the charge at the special service to declare open the 2015/2016 Legal Year ceremony held yesterday at at the Saint David’s Anglican Cathedral in Akure.
Mimiko, who commended the Judiciary in the state for living up to expectation charged members not to relax into complacency.
“Members of the judiciary have performed satisfactorily with their performance in Ondo State. The Judiciary has lived up to expectations and it is very critical to our democracy and has not disappointed the people.”
The Governor, who read the first Bible lesson at the Service enjoined the judicial officers to maintain the already laid standard they are following.
In his sermon, the Bishop of Akure Anglican Diocese, Rt. Revd. Simeon Borokini advised lawyers to offer more free legal services for the needy to help de-congest prisons and fast-track dispensation of justice.
He stressed that government must make judges comfortable during service and after retirement adding that it takes courage to stand for the truth.
The Chief Judge Of Ondo State, Hon. Justice Olasehinde Kumuyi led other members of the Bar and the Bench to the service.
The President of the Customary Court of Appeal, Justice Folashade Aguda-Taiwo, Ondo State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), members of the Ondo State Executive Council, the Deji of Akure, Oba Aladetoyinbo Aladelusi and the Osemawe of Ondo and Chairman, State Council of Obas, Oba Victor Kiladejo, were among the dignitaries at the event.
Also in his address at the Special Court Session held to commemorate the New Legal Year, the Chief Judge, Justice Kumuyi thanked God for the peaceful transition in the annals of the country’s thriving democracy.
Ondo State Judiciary, he said now has 25 judges, who preside over High Court in the state. He however lamented the five months old strike by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), which he said grounded judicial activities in the state.
Justice Kumuyi appreciated the State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Eyitayo Jegede (SAN) and the JUSUN for resolving the issue with the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
“Mr. Governor’s perpetual commitment to the Judiciary’s cause remain the driving force that propelled negotiations leading to the MoU,” he added.
The CJ charged judges and magistrates to ensure speedy delivery of justice so as to facilitate the de-congestion of prisons.
He pointed out that henceforth, the National Executive Council of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) through the Chief Justice of the Federation, has stipulated the payment of the practicing fees before any lawyer can be granted audience in court, while he called for a robust relationship between the Bar and Bench.
Also speaking, the Attorney-General, Mr. Eyitayo Jegede (SAN) disclosed that the state has approved the amendment of the Criminal Justice Law, which he said has been sent to the State House of Assembly for passage into bill.
Jegede, who frowned at the few capacity of the Olokuta Maximum Prison, called for the building of more prisons in the state to prevent future backlog of jail breaks.
“According to him, the Olokuta Prison has 846 inmates, while 89 are convicts, which exceed the number of beds there.
Barr. Akintokunbo Oluwole, third National Vice-President of the NBA and Chairman, NBA Okitipupa branch, Mr. S.V. Ajisomo commended judges in the state judiciary.