By Kayode Adeoti
How time flies, four years had gone by. Though it appears like yesterday when Justice Suleiman Kawu Durosinlohun was sworn in as the Chief Judge of the Kwara State Judiciary by the Executive Governor of the state, Alhaji Abdufatah Ahmed.
He may not have reigned for hundred years yet as the helmsman of the state judiciary but the songs of his achievements on the lips of many legal practitioners in the state confirmed that Justice Kawu has been able to rewrite many right in the sector.
Following his achievements, many legal practitioners noted that he has laid a legacy which will continue to serve as reference for the subsequent successors of the prestigious seat.
Though the provision of courtrooms might not be his responsibility, but Justice Kawu is lauded today for facilitating appointments of both lower and higher cadre of members of the bench. This, many legal practitioner s confirmed has eased the workloads in the judiciary.
Today, the history of the Kwara State judiciary will be incomplete without referencing the man many people refers to as simple and cerebral.
Justice Kawu, according to history is the 6th CJ Kwara State judiciary will produce.
His late father, Hon. Justice Saidu Kawu who was in office between 1975 and 1984, was the first Kwara CJ. Afterwards, four others held the position namely; Justice Timothy Oyeyipo who served from 1984 to 2005, Justice Saka Yusuf also had a short stint between 2006 and 2007, Justice Elelu resumed office thereafter and served from 2008 till 2012. Justice Bamigbola equally served in 2014.
The State Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Barrister Abdulmumini Bimpe who speaks with this medium on the person of CJ said he’s one of the most hardworking judges he has ever seen.
“He is a complete gentle man with no blemish; he’s one of the most hardworking men I have ever met in the world. When it comes to the administration of criminal justice, he is not partial, he is simple and he has been able to breach the gap between the bar and the bench. You can call him at anytime, he’s always there to respond,” DPP stressed.
One of his school mates who also speaks with Pilot Law of his prowess as CJ is a renowned Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Barrister Yusuf Olaolu Ali.
Ali SAN stressed that he was not surprised when he became the CJ of the state saying his antecedents has shown that he will go far in the noble profession.
He however described him as man of incorruptibility that has in-depth knowledge of law.
“My Lord, Justice Kawu, I’ve known him for about 40 years when we were both an undergraduate at University of Ife now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State. Since that time, we’ve been together. I’ve appeared before him when he was a magistrate, one thing you cannot take away from him is his incorruptibility and his wide knowledge of law.
“I was not surprised when he became the CJ, I must confess, I know he will go far in this profession because of his past records. He has been able to appoint magistrates and judges during his tenure just to ease the load
Of the serving members of the bench. He’s a fantastic family man,” the silk said.
The immediate past chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Barrister Manzuma Issa however described Justice Kawu as a stabilizer.
According to him, through sense of humility, Justice Kawu has been able to stabilise the bench. He has brought about structural transformation, creating more magistrates and Upper Area Courts, thereby bringing justice to the doorsteps of the people.
For Barrister Kehinde Kolawole Eleja SAN, Justice Kawu is a cerebral judge whose judgments at the Court of Appeal always attract commendations.
“He’s simple, close to everyone and he’s an open administrator. Unlike most CJs before him, he seats regularly and promptly. He dispenses justice equitably, he is very cerebral. Most of his judgments are upheld at the Appeal,” Eleja added.
Also lending voice is a sitting High Court Judge in the state who do not want his name in print, saying the emergence of Justice Kawu as the CJ has made many judges brace up.
“Today, I can confidently say we don’t have a ceremonious judge. They are all hardworking and equal to the task. My Lord will seat as early as 9am; this is what others have emulated. When the head of an organisation is hardworking, members of such place will not do less too.
“On the issue of judges’ welfare, My Lord took it up with the state government and today, we have good stories to tell. Before now, judges especially at the lower cadre have often times threatened to down tool, my Lord held series of meetings with the state governor who later came to their aids. I’m not saying My Lord is perfect but his time as the CJ is the best so far, I’ve never seen a man like him who takes life so simple…? He noted.
Recall that the State Governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed in December 2014 swore in Justice Sulaiman Kawu as the Chief Judge of the state after his confirmation by the state House of Assembly, headed by the speaker Barrister Rasaq Atunwa now member of the Federal House of Representatives
His appointment followed the retirement of Justice Ayinla Bamigbola as the Chief Judge of the state on December 12, 2014.
In a letter dated 10th December, 2014, which the governor forwarded to the state House of Assembly, said Justice Kawu had been recommended by the National Judicial Council (NJC) for the appointment maintaining that his name was nominated for screening and confirmation in line with section 271 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as amended.
Justice Kawu was a Magistrate between 1984 to 1994 and had been High Court Judge since 1994 before his appointment in 2014.
Born on January 4, 1958, justice Kawu had served as Acting Chief Judge of Kwara between 2010 and 2012.
He hails from Ikokoro compound, Off Niger road in the Ilorin South Local Government Area of Kwara State.