Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode on Friday assured that his administration will continue to improve on the achievements in the judicial sector and ensure that Judges, Magistrates and the Courts in the state work in the best condition possible.
The Governor who spoke at the 2015/2016 Legal Year Dinner held at the Nigeria Law School, Victoria Island, reiterated the important role the judiciary plays as the last hope of the common man, stressing that the reforms carried out by the previous administration will be sustained.
He said the Lagos State Judiciary has been the pioneer of judicial sector reforms in the country, from 1999, when Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo was Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice.
He said his predecessor in office, Mr. Babatunde Fashola also followed suit by initiating and implementing far reaching reforms which went a long way to improve the justice delivery system.
“It was these reforms that gave birth to the Office of Public Defender, Citizens Mediation Centre, Public Advisory Centre, the Multi Door Court House System, which offers an alternative and effective dispute resolution mechanism, the construction of more Courts as well as the appointment of more Magistrates and Judges. These initiatives have expanded the frontier of justice delivery which has deepened its relevance as the last hope of the common man”.
“I am committed to ensuring that this administration continues with these reforms. We will work with the judiciary to move our justice sector to a higher level. The reforms process is not a finished business, it is a work in progress”, he said.
He alluded to the fact that a recent World Bank ranking of countries on the basis of ease of doing business rated Nigeria low, noting that one of the parameters considered was the ease with which disputes arising from business transactions are resolved.
Governor Ambode said that the report was an indication that the nation’s desire to build a globally competitive economy that will attract foreign investors cannot be achieved without a vibrant judiciary.
“It is therefore imperative that as we address the issue of infrastructural deficiency to ease the process and reduce cost of doing business, the issues of rule of law and timely dispensation of justice must also be given priority”, he said.
Responding to an appeal made by the Chief Judge of Lagos, Justice Funmilayo Atilade in her welcome address, Governor Ambode promised to address the issues raised accordingly.
He also used the occasion to assure that his administration will continue to work towards the common goal of improving the living conditions of the people of Lagos while also protecting their rights and dignity.
Earlier, Justice Atilade expressed concerns that the Lagos State Judiciary is still financially subservient to the Ministry of Justice, saying it was most undesirable as it clearly negates relevant laws and Constitutional provisions.
She appealed to Governor Ambode to assist in effecting the return of Judiciary Capital Vote as required by Law and in the spirit of Separation of Powers as applied to the other arms of government.
“To a very large extent, as we demonstrate our implicit confidence in our able Governor to right the wrongs of the past, help reposition and propel the State Judiciary to desired heights, we must sincerely express our gratitude to His Excellency for al the support and kind understanding.
“Truly, he has within the short period of his administration demonstrated strong interest and concern in the growth of the Judiciary and in the welfare of Judicial Officers, Magistrates and all personnel the Lagos State Judiciary”, Justice Atilade said.
One of the highlights of the event was the presentation of awards to Governor Ambode as well as former Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Fashola for their contributions towards uplifting the course of the State Judiciary.