Governor Isiaq Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State on Thursday gave the rationale behind the appointment of 11 High Court judges by his administration within the spate of three years, saying it was to strengthen the judiciary and concretise the process of the rule of law in the state.
The governor stated this while speaking at the swearing-in of five newly appointed High Court judges held at the House of Chiefs, Parliament Building, Secretariat, Ibadan.
The appointment of the five judges brought to 11 the number of judges appointed by the Ajimobi administration in the last three years.
Governor Ajimobi, who said that the appointment was neither a coincidence nor a matter of ordinary choice, explained that the: “Appointment of judges is based on the need to concretise the process of the rule of law in a society like ours where everybody cries for justice.
“In a society where people trample on other people’s rights with impunity, where the powerful take advantage of the weak through the flexing of muscles, the judiciary needs to be strengthened. It thus becomes imperative to put in place a well-fortified judiciary by appointing people of impeccable character who are resourceful and highly efficient in the practice of law,’’ he said.
The governor said that his administration had demonstrated its adherence to the rule of law by its due compliance with, and obedience to court orders, adding that this was diametrically opposed to what he met when he came on board.
“I dare say today that Oyo State is the most peaceful state in Nigeria, and this is not unconnected with our belief in the supremacy of the rule of law,’’ he said.
While congratulating the new judges, Governor Ajimobi said that they, and indeed, the judiciary, were expected to “bring to bear, at optimal level, their residue of integrity, intelligence, wisdom, sagacity and diligence.”
The criteria for their appointment, he said, were sound knowledge of law, industry and good character, urging them to continue in the display of the qualities in all their activities in and outside of the courts.
Quoting a former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mohammed Lawal Uwais, he said that a judicial officer should diligently discharge his administrative duties, maintain professional competence in judicial administration and facilitate the performance of the administrative duties of other judicial officers and court officials.
The governor added that a judicial officer should require his staff and other court officials under his direction and control to observe the standards of fidelity and diligence that apply to him, adding that the government and people of the state did not expect anything less from the judges.
He also stressed the need for “the hallowed chamber of justice’’ to insulate itself from corruption, if the saying that the judiciary is the last hope of the common man is indeed true.
“This is because corruption has been aptly identified as the number one enemy of development and progress. It is suicidal for the judiciary, and indeed the nation, for any person to leave the court room with an impression that the judge, who is supposed to be an unbiased umpire, has been bought,’’ he said.
The high point of the ceremony was the presentation of five Toyota Prado Jeeps to the new judges in the presence of the state Chief Judge, Justice Badejoko Adeniji, friends, associates and family members of the new members of the Bench.