â€¢ New judiciary complex inaugurated in Ekiti
Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen and Governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, as well as his counterpart in Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, have called for a virile and strong judicial arm for Nigeriaâ€™s democracy to grow and deliver on its mandate.
The eminent Nigerians described judiciary as the pivot of democracy, which should not be weakened by those in the executive arm, saying attempt to render the arm impotent would boomerang and lead Nigeria to dictatorship.
They spoke in Ado Ekiti thursday during the inauguration of the ultra modern Ekiti State Judiciary Complex built by Governor Fayose and named after the first Chief Judge of the state and Oluyin of Iyin Ekiti, Oba Ademola Ajakaiye.
Onnoghen, who was represented by a Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Olu Ariwoola, said all the arms of government must work hard for the entrenchment of the rule of law and ensure efficient and effective justice delivery in Nigeria.
He said: â€œThe country judiciary must rise up and dispense justice without fear, favour or ill-feeling. Judges must give quality judgments and rise up to the challenge of interpreting the laws of the land for the stability of our nation.
â€œIn doing this, the executive arm must provide enabling environment for the judicial staff to discharge their duties.
â€œWhen we are thinking of how to build democracy through effective justice delivery, the budget to the third but most dangerous judicial arm was falling thereby depriving it the needed facilities to function.
â€œWe want to salute Governor Fayose for this feat and we appeal to other states of the federation to replicate this kind of state-of-the-art facility in their domains to make our judicial staff comfortable in discharging their duties.â€
Fayose said the event of the recent past when judges were being muzzled by the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led federal government had created fear in the judiciary and make some Judges timid to give judgment against the government at the centre.
The governor stated that judiciary as the bastion of the common man should resist alleged desperate attempt being contrived to cow it in the interest of the nation.
Fayose also made strong case for the establishment of a Customary Court of Appeal in Ekiti State and appointments of more judges into the state judiciary by the National Judicial Council (NJC).
â€œJudiciary as our hope and refuge, must stand up for us. Donâ€™t fear to give judgment. I said this when President Muhammadu Buhari came on board that this government will be vindictive. What they wanted is for judges to fabricate judgments in their favour and this must not happen if this democracy is to survive.â€
Expressing serious opposition to dearth of judges in Ekiti, Fayose said: â€œWe have only eleven Judges in Ekiti judiciary out of which there was only one female. This is wrong and unacceptable to us.
â€œSome of our judges have retired and the NJC has failed to replace them. What have we done wrong? Is Ekiti no longer part of Nigeria? What have we taken from them? Donâ€™t let our people think this was deliberate and political.
â€œWe have good career men in our judiciary whose careers were being wasted away. Ekiti was being sidelined in the appointments of judges and this was not fair enough.â€
Fayose warned against politicisation of the judicial arm, describing such tendency as dangerous to Nigeriaâ€™s future.
â€œJudges without political inclination should be made to preside over election petition tribunals. I have seen governors lobbying for judges to be given such position. Judiciary and opposition are the bedrock of democracy and once that are eroded, then all of us are endangeredâ€.
On the Ekiti governorship election, the governor said the APC would meet a brick wall in its alleged plan to rig the July 14 governorship election in the state.
â€œI dare them to come and rig election in Ekiti, I dare INEC in particular. Let me say this, they will fail woefully the way they did in Anambra,â€ Fayose boasted.
The Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom, described the edifice as one of the best in the country and a clear statement that any governor can perform, even with meager resources.
â€œWhat Fayose has done had proved us right that when a governor is faithful with a meagre resources, he can perform wonders because this is not about money, but about ideas,â€ he stated.
Other speakers at the event; Chief Judge of Ekiti State, Justice Ayodeji Daramola, Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), Chief Makanjuola Esan (SAN), NBA Chairman, Ado branch, Mr. Gbemiga Adaramola, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), praised the governor for giving the judiciary needed impetus to perform.