Judges of the Oyo State Customary Court of Appeal have appealed to Governor Seyi Makinde to take urgent action to re-constitute Grade ‘C’ Customary Courts across the state. They believe that it is necessary to do so in order to revive all pending applications/appeals before the Courts and deal with them promptly.
According to the judges, as long as these courts remain unconstitutional, it will be difficult for common people at the grassroots level to access justice easily, quickly, and less expensively. The judges spoke at a Special Court Session held in Ibadan to honor the outgoing acting President of the Oyo State Customary Court of Appeal, Justice Abimbola Olatunji-Daniel.
It was stressed that the Customary Courts with a grade of ‘C’ are considered grassroots Courts, which are situated closest to the people and handle many land cases in rural areas, and a large percentage of matrimonial and child custody matters and other matters.
She said: “Customary Courts Grade ‘C’ have been disbanded for two years now. We have over 690 Grade ‘C’ Customary Courts all over the state, and a great deal of the appeals and applications comes to this Court.
“I will pray for their reconstitution as soon as possible so that all the pending applications/appeals can be resuscitated and dealt with.”
In addition, the retiring judge called on the state governor to designate legal practitioners as heads of the Grade ‘C’ Customary Courts, as individuals are currently administering them without legal training.
“The 21st century is very fast, and artificial intelligence has been employed in all spheres. Our state is ripe to amend our Customary Courts Laws to accommodate learned personnel to head our Grade ‘C’ Customary Courts,” she said.
According to Justice Tajudeen Abdulganiyu of the Oyo State Customary Court of Appeal, the Grade ‘C’ Customary courts are located closest to the people at the local level.
He said: “According to the Supreme Court in the case of Onwuama vs. Ezeokili (2002) 5 NWLR (Part 706) Page 353, the rationale for creating the customary courts is the need to make administration of justice available to the common man in a simple, cheap and uncomplicated form.”