Administering justice in comfort: Day Olanipekun brought new life to Ekiti judiciary

THE Ikere-Ekiti community, headquarters of Ikere Local Government Area of Ekiti State, on Thursday, played host to personalities from all walks of life who came to witness the commissioning of an ultra-modern courtroom complex built and donated to the Ekiti State High Court, Ikere Judicial Division, by a legal icon and former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Chief Wole Olanipekun.

The donor, who is the chairman of the Body of Benchers, has made remarkable impacts in the legal sector as well as in the development of the society, which has made people to describe him as an uncommon philanthropist.

Aside his constant support for his primary constituency (the law profession),  Olanipekun’s philanthropy covers other aspects of human endeavour, including religion where he has built a new church; health and wellbeing where he has generously constructed hospitals to address  the challenge of inadequate health infrastructure. Olanipekun is also well rooted in capacity building and development by naotably empowering both the young and the aged as well as giving out yearly scholarship to students in his community.

A conducive court-room environment has been identified as one of the major ways of advancing administration of justice in the society. With the decay and poor infrastructure in the judiciary, it is not surprising that the learned silk’s gesture to donate the judiciary complex  has been attracting commendations not just from the judicial sector. Many other Nigerians who understand the import of a befitting work envoronment to the human psyche have also joined in the appraisal of the kind gesture from the legal luminary.

This, among other reasons, accounted for the impressive turnout of personalities at the inauguration and handing over ceremony. In attendance were the host, Ekiti State governor, Biodun Oyebanji; the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem; acting Chief Judge of Kwara State, Justice Abiodun Adebara; his Ekiti State counterpart, Justice Oyewole Adeyeye. Also at the event was another renowned lawyer and elder statesman, Aare Afe Babalola SAN who sent in a representative, Professor Abiodun Ojo   and the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Senator Babafemi Ojudu.

Apart from the senior lawyers and jurits across the country who graced the event, politicians too were not left out. The lawmakers representing Ekiti South and North, Senators Biodun Olujimi and Olubunmi Adetumbi  were in attendance as well as traditional rulers led by the Ogoga of Ikere, Oba Adejimi Adu; Ewi of Ado-Ekiti, Oba Rufus Adejugbe, among other personalities.

The multimillion naira court complex is equipped with necessary equipment compliant with global standard required for justice administration. According to the donor, the facility has two standard courtrooms, each of which can comfortably accommodate 50 counsels and 30 litigants;  conference room and meeting rooms;  cloak rooms, toilet facilities, a 120KVA generator to ensure supply of power as well as borehole.

The complex also has a dining room, two pre-trial rooms, two exhibit rooms, two holding cells, a cashier’s office, a reception hall, an 8,000-volume capacity library already equipped with 4,000 books and a close circuit television (CCTV).

One of the courtrooms (Court 1) was named after the first lawyer from Ikere and former Attorney General of old Ondo State, Justice Ekundayo Ogundare. Ogundare, the second indigene of Ekiti State to become Justice of Supreme Court, was called to the bar in 1958. Similarly, Court 2  was named after  Justice Olajide Olatawura from Ikole,  the second indigene of the state to be appointed to the Supreme Court .

Speaking during the commissioning, Olanipekun explained that the gesture was informed by his commitment towards the improvement of the country’s judiciary and advancement of its justice system by providing an enabling environment for administrators of justice to operate.

He explained further that his decision to build and donate the complex in his community was as a result of calls from stakeholders from the law profession on the poor condition of the high court complex that had made it difficult for judges and lawyers to carry out their duties.

Olanipekun said: “You have seen from the tour of the complex that all the furniture provided both in the courtrooms, judges’ chambers,  registry, conference room, general office are of high quality and standard.

“Since we are in the days of technology, an e-library with an updated database is also in place. Meanwhile, it is imperative to mention that the entire project is a work-in-progress, as all hands are on deck to ensure the actualisation a full automation of the entire court, so that judges’ work become much easier and proceedings much faster and seamless.

“Let me repeat for the umpteenth time that I do not expect anything from the state in return, whether in cash or kind. All I pray is that posterity will remember us for our humble gestures and efforts.”

From left, Chief Justice of Ekiti State, Justice Oyewole Adeyeye; Ekiti State governor, Biodun Oyebanji; legal icon, Chief Wole Olanipekun and his wife, Omolara, during the official commissioning of the new court-room complex in Ikere-Ekiti.

He thereafter called on government at all levels  and private individuals to pay attention to what he described as the deteriorating state of court facilities in the country, noting that a well-equipped court room would build litigants’ confidence in our judicial system.

“The walls and roofs of a good number of our courtrooms are collapsing and caving in. Basic facilities, such as toilets, are not available in a good number of courts all over the country. In most instances, functional libraries are not available.

“The ambience of a typical or average courtroom should reflect an atmosphere of learning which judges and lawyers subscribe to and are known for rather than representing, both from within and without, a rough, untidy, unclean and unkept theatre,” he said.

Governor Oyebanji, who commissioned the new courtrooms, commended Olanipekun for the gesture to the judiciary, describing it as noble and unprecedented, adding that the new courtrooms would in no small measure enhance administration of justice.

Oyebanji explained that his administration would remain committed to the development of the state’s judiciary with effective policies and provision of conducive environment, calling on individuals to contribute to the development of the society and not leave everything to government.

Oyebanji said: “There is no doubt that Chief Olanipekun is a man who takes pleasure in giving back to the society and institutions that once nurtured him. This is yet another demonstration of his commitment to giving back to the law profession where he has made his mark as a distinguished member of the Bar and Bench.

“As a government, our administration understands the importance of law and order to the progress and development of our state. We are committed to effective administration of justice that serves the public by ensuring that condition of our courts and the welfare of the judicial officers are well attended to.”

Speaking, the Chief Judge of Ekiti State, Justice Adeyeye, lamented the growing infrastructure decay in the judicial sector while lauding the former NBA president for the timely donation of the edifice, which he said would enhance effective administration of justice in the state.

According to Adeyeye, what they had hoped for was the courtrooms to be renovated. “Our prayer was for the renovation of the existing structure. But  the learned silk by way of consequential order granted us a brand new fully furnished court complex. That the project was delivered within such a record time is not only a testimony to determination and commitment but also a manifestation of a promise kept.”

On his part, the founder of Afe Babalola University Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD), Aare Afe Babalola commended the philanthropic gestures of Olanipekun for giving back to the society and his profession, describing him as an achiever who should be emulated.

Babalola, who had a well-stocked library in the new complex named after him, said that for the society to grow and develop, spirited individuals and philanthropists must contribute towards supporting our institutions and the people.

The renowned lawyer said, “ I have known Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN for over 40 years now. He is a man I admire and respect for his industry, brilliance and impressive achievements in law. He is a charming, gifted and highly respectable gentleman. He is a kind, generous, loving, respectful, firm and industrious man.

“In addition to all these, the spirit of giving back to the society with the aim of making the world better than he has met it is highly commendable. It is this spirit of philanthropy that has given birth to the many projects he has completed and donated to the society.

“It is regrettable that Nigeria is bereft of philanthropists in the mould of Wole Olanipekun contrary to the convention and traditional practice in Europe and America where well-to-do people donate lavishly to institutions, churches and society generally.”

The NBA chairman of Ikere branch, Dr Sunday Afolayan, who also spoke at the event, appreciated the donor for his unrelenting support for the NBA. He averred that the donation of the new courtrooms would in no small measure boost the ranking of the branch, enhance members’ duties and make life comfortable for lawyers and judges.

”Chief Wole Olanipekun is a legal icon, a proud son of Ikere and a renowned philanthropist who has contributed and sacrificed immensely for the benefit of humanity in various aspects of life within and outside his immediate community. The [donation] of this gigantic, ultra-modern High Court Complex to the Ekiti State Judiciary by Chief Olanipekun is  a great service and contribution  not only to the Bench but also to the Bar in Ekiti State, especially the Ikere Ekiti Branch of the NBA. The branch can now boast and beat her chest that we have the best court in Nigeria. I have gone round this court building and discovered that many of the facilities are provided to make life easier for us lawyers. This edifice is a dream come true.”



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