By Adebowale A-Oluwaseun
Rights activist and lawyer Titiloye Charles has condemned the relocation by Ondo State judiciary of five magistrate courts and two rent tribunals sitting in Akure to the private building of an Akure Chief and businessman, Chief Olukayode.
The courts started sitting in the building located at Hospital Road, Oshinle Roundabout, Akure, the state capital, in January this year.
The Ondo State judiciary for sometime now has been battling with lack of courtrooms for magistrate courts and rent tribunals, which led to the rent of the Olukayode House, Akure.
Titiloye noted that citing a courtroom in a citizen’s private building could compromise the independence and neutrality of the judiciary specifically where landlord/family of owner of such building may have pending cases before the court.
He noted that Section 36 of constitution on Human rights of citizens prescribed that court should be established in a manner to guarantee its independence and impartiality.
The activist queried whether those courts could handle any case involving Chief Olukayode and his family dispassionately.
Titiloye also carpeted Ondo State government for precipitating this problem by not building new court room for the judiciary or giving out any of its houses at Alagbaka, Akure as temporal accommodation for courtrooms.
The activist noted that the Olukayode building is not conducive as same premises houses incompatible businesses and tenants like aluminum artisans, gymnasium, church, bank and a drinking joint at the back.
“In fact we sometimes find it difficult to hear what the Magistrate is saying in the court.
“The place is unsafe as only one door lead to all the court rooms and there is no parking space for vehicles.”
Titiloye noted that this situation had brought hardship to lawyers of Akure branch of the Nigerian Bar Association.
“And we have resolve in our general meeting held on thursday, that the Executive of Akure branch of NBA should meet the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Sehinde Kumuyi, to relocate the magistrate to a more conducive building owned by the government.”
The activist noted that justice is rooted in confidence of litigants in the impartiality of the court, stating that the Ondo State government must take immediate steps to protect the integrity of the courts now sitting in private building.