Oyo State governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, on Thursday, called for collaboration by stakeholders for quick dispensation of justice as the state judiciary commenced its new legal year.
Just as the Bishop of Ibadan province, Anglican Communion, Most Reverend Joseph Akinfenwa, called for the embracement of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) techniques.
Ajimobi, who was represented by the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Seun Abimbola, at the church service held at the Cathedral of Saint James, Oke Bola and at the Central Mosque, Oja Oba by the Secretary to the State Government, Olalekan Alli, stated that for the judiciary to perform creditably well, it needed funds.
The governor further urged the bench and the bar to hold dear the creed of nobility associated with lawyers and ethical codes in the discharge of their duties.
“Let the practice codes of ethics and professional conducts guide us in our daily endeavours this legal year, recognising that these ethical codes take their roots from the Holy Books of God which demand righteousness from all of us,” Senator Ajimobi urged.
Bishop Akinfenwa, in his sermon, called on the people, especially the government, the bar and the bench, to employ the techniques of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), especially in minor offences, to decongest the prisons.
According to him, people that commit minor and petty offences should be given other punishment aside prison terms, adding that people that have no criminal tendency may become hardened criminals when remanded in prison.
“You send a man to prison for stealing a phone and he comes out and starts robbing with gun. If a man commits minor offence, send him to the government farm to do farm work, let him make heaps and plant for the state as punishment. This will curb the menace of over congestion and also stop such person from being unduly influenced by hardened criminals,” the bishop said.
He further urged the bar and the bench to exhibit no fear in doing their jobs as the government is committed to enthrone the rule of law.
“Nigeria needs to act fast to clean up the court as the last hope of the common man. When there is no justice for the common man, it is a recipe for chaos,” the bishop stated.
The Chief Judge of the state, Justice Muntar Abimbola, while speaking on the expectations for the new legal year, stated that the judges are well prepared to give their best.
“By the grace of God, this year, things will be put in place to fast-track procedure to have quick delivery of matters before our courts. Congestion will be reduced and justice will be served,” Justice Abimbola stated.
Chairman, NBA Ibadan branch, Mr Akeem Agbaje, at the service held at Ibadan Central Mosque, Oja Oba, said the digitalisation of the state judiciary was overdue, bemoaning that judges were still compelled to take down notes in long hand.
He said non-digitalisation of the judiciary continued to slow down the pace of work.
To actualise calls for speedy administration of justice and decongestion of prisons, Agbaje urged the state House of Assembly to pass into law the Administration of Criminal Justice bill.
He argued that the law, if passed, provided for alternative sentencing options like community service sentence, prohibited applications for stay of proceedings, limited the number of adjournments in criminal trial and protected the rights of suspects or accused persons.
In his sermon, Dr I. O. Uthman of the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies, University of Ibadan, represented by Dr Lere Ibrahim, harped on the importance of Zakat especially at the current time of recession.
Uthman urged Muslims to be cheerful givers so as to help other Nigerians in need.