By Joseph Olusola, Ogbomoso
As part of an ongoing restructuring of the state’s administration of justice, the Oyo state judiciary has introduced Grade ‘A’ customary courts into the judicial structure of the state.
Present at the occasion were the chairman of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in the state, Akeem Agbaje; former NBA chairman, Kazeem Gbadamosi; Nigeria’s eminent commercial legal practitioner and entrepreneur, Chief Adebayo Akande; ex-chief judge of the state, Justice Nurudeen Adekola, former Commissioner for Justice in the state, Mr. Ojo Adebayo and others.
While performing the swearing-in for the new Grade ‘A’ Customary court presidents and magistrates on Monday at the Oyo state High Court conference room, the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Munta Abimbola revealed that a lot of restructuring is ongoing in the state judiciary to fast-track both criminal and civil justice administration.
The CJ who acknowledged the assistance and contributions of Governor Abiola Ajimobi in the vision to reposition the judiciary in the state admonished the new magistrates and presidents to redeem the image of the judiciary as they were coming when the public had a bad perception of the judiciary.
“We only have 20 magistrates in Oyo State, as large as the state is. We have key almost 465 cases, pending in each of the courts; that is why we have a lot of delays in the magistrate courts
“We start with introduction of Presidents of Grade ‘A’ Customary Courts. We have almost 495 customary courts in this state, manned by 465 members. But we now want those courts to be restructured, their decisions will now go to Grade ‘A’ Customary Courts that will perform the functions of Grade ‘A’ and Grade ‘B’ customary courts, and their decisions will now go to Customary Court of Appeal, which is also in Oyo State.
“In order to make them more functional, they will be showcasing the customary laws of Oyo State. They will ensure the compliance and enforcement of the customary laws of Oyo State, unless those aspects of the customary laws that are repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience, but those that are enforceable, particularly the non-recognised chieftaincies.
“We will ensure that we increase their jurisdictions so that most of these cases that are causing delays in our high courts will now go to Grade ‘A’ Customary Courts, those that will be trained to have knowledge in customary courts.”
Altogether, nine Presidents and fifteen Magistrates were sworn-in.