Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, on Monday tasked the judiciary to come up with innovative models to vigorously tackle delay in justice delivery, saying it was time for all stakeholders to engender speedy and efficient administration of justice system in the country.
Ambode, who spoke at a Special Service held at the Cathedral Church of Christ, Marina, to mark the official commencement of 2018/2019 Legal Year of Lagos State Judiciary, said the issue of delay in justice delivery was still a major concern, and that it was time for all hands to be on deck to enhance confidence in the legal system.
He said Lagos, being the economic hub of Africa, must be at the vanguard of judicial reforms, adding that the State’s justice sector must be sound, fair and effective.
“As our State remains the cynosure of excellence and the economic hub of Africa, our judiciary must continue to be at the forefront of judicial reforms to meet the expectations of the modern day justice sector. My lords, we bear the responsibility of 24million people who look up to you and I to protect them with the law. Our justice system must remain sound, fair and effective.
“The plague of delay in justice delivery is still of major concern. All stakeholders in the sector must ensure that the issue of delay is tackled vigorously by creating innovative models for achieving speedy and efficient justice delivery system which can be replicated more broadly across the country.
“The fact is this; the expectation of the citizens is huge and it requires all stakeholders to work continuously to enhance confidence in the legal system, promote the rule of law, and guarantee the protection of lives and property,” Governor Ambode said.
He said since the commencement of his administration, conscious efforts and initiatives have been put in place to enhance justice delivery, as well as respect the constitutionally roles of the three arms of government.
“Our administration recognizes the separate but interwoven roles of the three arms of government and part of our own commitment to a lawful and orderly society is to respect the limits of those constitutional roles which we have always done.
“One of the cardinal policies of our government has been the enthronement of law and order. And, today, I stand a happy man knowing we have delivered on those promises,” he said.
Speaking on some of the initiatives of his administration in the justice sector, the Governor said due to the increased work load and number of cases in the courts, more judges and magistrates were appointed, as well as construction of more court houses and renovation of existing courts to befit the judiciary, together with improved welfare for judicial officers in the State.
He added: “The introduction of the Lagos State DNA and Forensic Centre further enhanced the quality of justice delivery in the State and we have also developed policies and legislations that will aid speedy dispensation of justice.”
While congratulating members of judiciary on the commencement of the New Legal Year and wishing them fruitful deliberations, the Governor equally assured of his continued support and partnership to further enhance justice delivery in the State.
In his sermon at the service, Diocesan Bishop of Lagos, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Rt Rev Humphrey Olumakaiye commended judges for the role they have been playing in national development but admonished them to dispense justice without fear or favour and always uphold justice.
He said judges, being distinguished and eminent people in the society, must know that it was God’s blessings that enriches, and as such, they should eschew injustice which he said could lead to chaos, disaster and maladministration, among others.
“Righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a reproach. To be successful, judges must do the right thing moment by moment and day by day. The only thing that can sustain you at the top is godly character and integrity.
“Justice must not only be done, it must be seen to have been done. Justice must be dispensed without fear or favour. Let justice be done though heavens fall. We all must know that we shall give account of our stewardship on the day of reckoning,” Olumakaiye said.
On 2019 elections, the clergyman prayed for God’s will to be done in Nigeria, just as he said the nation needs strong moral foundation at all levels.
“Let us go back to the path of honesty, love, sincerity, dignity of labour, righteousness, discipline, integrity, hard work, excellence, zeal for result, among others,” he said.
Besides, Olumakaiye commended Ambode for the good work being done in the State, saying the Church was proud of the sterling performance and would continue to support and pray for him.