Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, on Monday, urged judges and lawyers to embrace transparency and accountability in the administration of justice in the State with a view to enhancing confidence in the legal system.
Ambode, who spoke at a service held at the Cathedral Church of Christ in Marina to commemorate the commencement of the 2017/2018 Golden Jubilee New Legal Year of the State’s Judiciary, said the expectations of the citizenry from government were enormous, and it was important for all stakeholders to demonstrate patriotism and leadership, and work continuously to promote the rule of law and guarantee protection of lives and property.
While congratulating members of the State Judiciary, which he described as the busiest in the country, for maintaining high standard of institutional integrity, Governor Ambode said the new legal year offered another opportunity to reflect on the history and achievements in the justice sector and examine whether efforts were being made to preserve the rich legacy and heritage inherited from great judges and lawyers who in the past had helped in the dispensation of justice.
“Indeed, Lagos State has a general reputation for trailblazing reforms in the justice sector and in many other sectors. In particular, our Judiciary has earned a status for great integrity and independence over the years and we are proud of it.
“The Judiciary since its creation in 1967 has continued to grow in leaps and bounds. The volume of cases handled by the Judges and Magistrates has necessitated the appointment of additional Judges and Magistrates with improved welfare and continuous infrastructural developments to further enhance the quality of justice delivery in the State.
“The judicial arm of the government remains the only and lasting beacon of hope, fairness, and justice to all citizens while the legal profession has a vital role to play in promoting the cause of justice, protecting human rights and upholding professional standards,” Governor Ambode said.
The Governor, who acknowledged the independence of the judicial arm of government, said it was in fulfilment of the promises to advance the cause of justice that the first DNA and Forensic Centre was commissioned to aid investigation and dispensation of justice, and called on members of the judiciary to collaborate with the executive to scale up justice delivery.
According to the Governor, “There is a popular saying that, “a house is only as good as its foundation”. This Administration has laid that foundation for good governance, peace, security and public order and our justice system must remain sound, fair and effective. The good people of Lagos State must be further assured of transparency and accountability in their access to justice.
“The expectations of the citizenry is enormous and requires all stakeholders to demonstrate patriotism and leadership as well as knowledge and skills. We must work continuously to enhance confidence in the legal system, promote the rule of law and guarantee protection of lives and properties,” he said.
Besides, Ambode reiterated the commitment of his administration to promote rule of law and regenerate a new era of economic prosperity for the State, just as he expressed optimism in the ability of the Acting Chief Judge of the State, Justice Opeyemi Oke to ensure prompt and fair dispensation of justice, innovations and more reforms that would improve justice administration nationwide.
In her remarks, Justice Oke commended Ambode for his commitment to enhance justice delivery and also create enabling environment for businesses to thrive in the State, assuring that the State Judiciary, under her, would effectively discharge its statutory duties of dispensing justice to the people.
While assuring that it would no longer be business as usual, Justice Oke urged lawyers to work with the State Judiciary and henceforth eschew frivolous applications for adjournment which in turn slows down justice administration.
“I want to use this opportunity to appeal to members of the bar. We cannot do it alone. We need you; we want to stop corruption; we want to stop laziness; we want to work and serve the people; Governor Ambode is doing so much to bring investors to the State and one thing the lawyers must do is to stop unnecessary application for adjournment; we are not going to allow it and we are going to talk to ourselves about it,” Justice Oke said.
In his sermon, Bishop of Lagos Diocese, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Most Rev. Adebola Ademowo commended Governor Ambode for his sterling performance in office so far, but urged that more efforts should be made to sanction motorists especially truck drivers who are in the habit of violating traffic laws.