Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, on Monday, sworn in a 36-year-old female lawyer, Blessing Ajileye and three others- Mr Apuabi Ariyibi, Mr Olalekan Olatawura and Mrs Oyinkansola Oluboyede as judges of the State High Court.
He has said the implementation of the judicial financial management law will commence this month to give backing to the financial autonomy of the judicial sector in the State.
Fayemi also announced that the National Judicial Council (NJC) has approved the establishment of a Customary Court of Appeal in the State to improve access to justice particularly at the grassroots when the court becomes fully operational.
Speaking during the event at the governor’s office, 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 characterized the composition of judges in the State High Court.
The Governor said 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 the justice sector in the country. He added that his agitation for the appointment of young lawyers into the position of judges would enable Ekiti to aspire for the bench of the Supreme Court in the country.
According to him, “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.”
Governor Fayemi reiterated his commitment to prioritising the welfare of judges in the State and disclosed that he has directed the payment of one-month salary arrear to judicial workers out of the salary owed by the previous administration with a promise to intensify efforts to clear other outstanding arrears.
Furthermore, the Governor 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 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.
Responding on behalf of the newly appointed Judges, Justice Apuabi Ariyibi commended Governor Fayemi for approving their recommendation as judges of the State High Court with a promise to remain loyal to the oath that guides their practice as judges.