By Akinwande Soji-Ojo
Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, on Monday, sworn-in a 36-year-old female lawyer, Mrs Blessing Ajileye; Mr Apuabi Ariyibi; Mr Olalekan Olatawura and Mrs Oyinkansola Oluboyede, as judges of the state’s high court.
Speaking during the ceremony held at the State Executive Chamber, Governor’s Office, Ado Ekiti, Fayemi said the implementation of the judicial financial management law will commence in earnest, to give backing to the financial autonomy of the judicial sector in the state.
The governor also announced that the National Judicial Council (NJC) has approved the establishment of a Customary Court of Appeal in the state in order to improve access to justice, particularly at the grassroots, when the court becomes fully operational.
He expressed delight that the Judicial Service Commission has responded to his concern for the elevation of young lawyers and the need to address gender disparity that characterised the composition of judges in the state’s high court.
The governor noted that he was not pleased with the absence of Ekiti at the Supreme Court, despite the contribution of arrays of Ekiti State-born legal luminaries to the development of justice sector in the country. He added that his agitation for the appointment of young lawyers into the position of judges would enable Ekiti aspire for the bench of the Supreme Court.
“Your Lordships will recall that one issue that I have consistently raised at every interaction with justice sector stakeholders in this state is the need for the State Judicial Service Commission to undertake a holistic review of entry requirements to the bench including the need to consider diversity in making the appointments.
“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.
“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,” he said.
Fayemi reiterated his commitment to prioritize the welfare of judges in the state, revealing that he has directed the payment of one month salary arrears to judicial workers out of the salary owed by the previous administration, with a promise to intensify efforts to clear other outstanding arrears.
The governor further charged the newly appointed judges to hold fast to the judicial oath and strive to do right to all manner of people, according to the laws of Ekiti State and Nigeria.
He commended the state’s Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Hon. Wale Fapohunda (SAN), and his team for playing critical role in repositioning the justice sector in the state.
The event was witnessed by the Deputy Governor, Otunba Bisi Egbeyemi; Speaker, Ekiti State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Funminiyi Afuye; the Chief Judge of Ekiti State, Justice Oyewole Adeyeye; members of the State Executive Council; judges of the state’s high court; officials of the Judicial Service Commission among others.