The Chief Justice of Ekiti state, Justice Oyewole Adeyeye has called on government at all levels to commence the expansion of the correctional centre in the state towards achieving the decongestion of the center.

Justice Adeyeye who spoke during the special court sitting marking the commencement of the 2022/2023 legal year in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital on Thursday expressed regret over the condition of the centre in the state, adding that governments and other stakeholders should rise up to save the situation.

He added that the correctional centre was designed with the capacity of 324 inmates but said as of October 6, the centre was having 712 inmates, saying, “ no doubt the facilities were extremely over stretched.”

As part of measures to decongest the correctional centre, he said in the outgone legal year, a total of 102 inmates were released on bail, unconditionally and advice from the Director of public prosecution.

The CJ while commending the outgoing Attorney general and commissioner for Justice, Olawale Fapohunda,SAN for the numerous reforms introduced in the state’s judiciary in the last four years, stating that these reforms had helped in no small measure to the effective administration of justice in the state.

According to him , “ Correctional centre as the name suggest should exist not in form but in substance, they should be more of correctional than punitive centres where inmates spend time to reflect and learn.

“I therefore call on the government at all levels as well as non-governmental organisations to take steps to expand and equip the facilities to ensure that they serve the purposes of correction and rehabilitation rather than being mere dungeons for dehumanization.”

He revealed that the state judiciary was on the verge of witnessing the paradigm shift from the analogue to digitalizing the entire legal processes and the automation of court records, calling on the executive arm to be deliberate in enforcing the financial autonomy of the judiciary in a bid to achieve its mandates.

Speaking, Fapohunda said the ministry of justice under him in the last four years has witnessed reforms and innovations, including the creation of the judicial academy which is the first in the country , for effective administration of law and justice.

The AG allayed fears of stakeholders in the judicial sector over the incoming administration of Biodun Oyebanji on the reforms, noting that the governor-elect has promised to sustain the gains in the sector and committed to the independence and development of the judiciary.

On the successes recorded under him, Fapohunda said, “ the building of capacities of lawyers in the ministry to deliver in our mandates to government and people of the state, is the most profound, aside the laws and innovation we have done.

According to him, ” Having sufficiently empowered our staff, we embarked on a radical review of the administration of the justice system in Ekiti State. Starting with a holistic review of the Laws of Ekiti State. We began and completed the review of our laws ensuring that only laws that are relevant to the aspirations of the people of Ekiti State remain in our law books. Our interventions in this area include a review of the Criminal Law of Ekiti State and the enactment of some of the most progressive laws in Nigeria.

” The Administration of Civil Justice Law, the Victims of Crime Law, the office of the Attorney-General Law, the State Economic Development Law, and the Sustainable Development Goals Law are some of the laws that have earned our State national and international commendation. I Ihould specially mention our Transition Law, which has now provided the legal framework for the smooth transfer of government.”

On expectations from Oyebanji, the AG said, ” the Governor-Elect Biodun Oyebanji is 100 per cent committed to the sustainability of all we have done. It was not a mistake that the Ministry of Justice was the only Ministry he visited to receive Ministerial briefings. Governor-Elect, during his tenure as Secretary to the State Government, participated actively in the debates on the review of the laws of Ekiti State.

” I am particularly pleased to inform you that one of the key deliverables he has set for himself is supporting the independence of the judiciary. I will be the first to admit that our intervention in the judiciary particularly on the issue of judicial autonomy has been working in progress. I however do not doubt that the judiciary will find in the Oyebanji administration an unflinching commitment to strengthening the judiciary and the rule of law.”