08 Aug 2020 SPEECH AT THE INAUGURATION OF THE OYO STATE JUDICIAL SERVICE COMMISSION
I am always delighted to perform ceremonial functions that work to strengthen our democracy. For me, the most beautiful part of democracy is the checks and balances provided by each arm of government, and the strong role the executive plays in ensuring that this balance is maintained. And so, we are here today to inaugurate the Oyo State Judicial Service Commission.
This inauguration is in line with the provisions of Chapter Six, Section One Nine Seven, Subsection One ‘C’ of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), which states that “There shall be established for each State of the Federation, a… State Judicial Service Commission.”
This commission has an important mandate. The mandate borders on activities to ensure the independence of the judiciary and the quick dispensation of justice.
You may have heard the legal maxim, “justice delayed is justice denied,” which means that if a wrong is not corrected within a reasonable time, it may as well not have been corrected at all. The Bible has a version of this saying, “when a sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, people’s hearts are filled with schemes to do wrong.”
These two sayings emphasize the importance of not just dispensing justice, but doing so in a timely manner. A situation where cases drag in court because there are not enough judges to hear the cases is an aberration and a gift to the guilty.
In fact, in 2017, a civic tech organisation, took the Oyo State Government to court because according to them, about 80% of the inmates, in what should now be called Agodi Custodial Centre, are awaiting trial.
Aside from persons who are in prison, there are also several cases within the judicial system that are being delayed, if these cases are heard within a reasonable time frame and pronouncements are made on them, then people will not abuse court processes.
I must say I am not trying to indict the judiciary. An indictment on the judiciary is an indictment on us all, because the various arms of government are a reflection of who we are as a people. This is one reason why this inauguration is important. The members of the commission are to appoint judges. They are also expected to see to the promotion and disciplinary control of judicial and non-judicial staff.
It is my belief that with this inauguration, members of the commission will get straight to these tasks so that we can get our judicial system working faster. I am also hoping that working with the Legislature, we can domesticate the Nigerian Correctional Service Act 2019, and begin to implement the provisions of that Act, especially regarding the number of inmates kept in correctional facilities and the conditions under which they are kept.
If we say, Oyo State is the Pacesetter State, then we should set the pace in having a reformed judiciary. Ajisebi Oyo laari, abi beeko? So, I look forward to working with you in bringing about the judicial reforms that will make Oyo State greater.
Governor Seyi Makinde, January 14, 2020.