Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode on Wednesday said a bill has also been sent to the State House of Assembly, seeking to amend the High Court Law to fix the number of Judges in the State High Courts to 120 from the present number of 59.
Speaking while swearing-in three new judges and one permanent secretary at the State House, Ikeja, Ambode said the increase would go a long way to address the challenges of the ever growing population and the attendant increase in commercial transaction and disputes.
“In order to address the challenges of a growing population and the attendant increase in commercial transaction and disputes, we have sent a bill to the State House of Assembly seeking to amend the High Court Law to fix the number of Judges in the State High Courts at 120 from the present 59. We expect this to be favourably considered and passed soon.
“These are some of the new innovations that are further aimed to position the State Judiciary to meet the challenges of dispensing justice quickly and speedily as justice delayed is justice denied.
“Our State Judiciary has made advances in its progression to a modern and effective arm of government. In order to facilitate speedy dispensation of justice, we have been consistent in creating innovative ways of responding to the challenges of our days. We recently created the first-ever Special and Sexual Offences courts and the first-ever Small Claims Courts in Nigeria,” he said.
However, Ambode charged the new judges to be fearless in the discharge of their duties and to always allow professional ethics to govern their acts and utterances within and outside the court.
He said their appointment was a testament of the consistently high standards and professionalism having scaled all the hurdles set by the appointing bodies and declared as fit to be on the revered higher bench of the Lagos State Judiciary.
The governor said their appointment had followed due process including a rigorous selection and screening exercise consequent upon the advice of the Lagos State Judicial Service Commission and recommendation by the National Judicial Council, urging them, therefore, to justify the confidence reposed in them by offering nothing short of justice without fear or favour.
“I would like to admonish our newly sworn-in judges to be fearless in the discharge of their duties and to always allow professional ethics to govern their acts and utterances within and outside the court.
“This will be the expectation of not only your colleagues, but of every Lagosian whose expectations are that you must determine and dispatch justice with independence and impartiality. The citizenry will also expect you to dispense justice without fear, favour, affection or ill will, as your oath guides you to do.
“The oath you have just taken is neither an empty ritual nor a matter of mere formal procedure. It is an open demonstration of commitment in the form of the making of a solemn and formal promise, the dereliction of which the oath taker will be held accountable; not only to the judiciary, and to our beloved State and country Nigeria but also to your creator,” Governor Ambode said.
Alluding to the fact that the Judiciary remains the last hope of the common man, Governor Ambode said his administration fully recognised the critical role the High Court plays in achieving its objectives, hence the recent innovations to enhance quick and effective dispensation of justice through the courts.
Ambode also commended the Chief Judge of the State, Justice Opeyemi Oke for her inspirational leadership and commitment to fighting indolence in the judiciary since the period she assumed office, assuring that his administration would continue to support the Judiciary to deliver quality service to Lagosians.
In her remarks, Justice Oke while congratulating the new Judges on attaining the pinnacle of their career, noted that their appointment had come at a time where there was a lot of work to be done, urging them to brace up to face the task head on.
She said the new judges were screened and selected by external bodies in accordance with the constitutional provisions and recommendation by the National Judicial Council without any undue interference from any quarters.
“As a matter of fact some of my colleagues were asking if the Governor didn’t have a candidate, I said no, that he didn’t even call me for a second over this. We are proud of you sir,” she said.
She also thanked the Governor for his unflinching support and passion to see the smooth operation of the Judiciary, noting that under his administration the Judiciary has thrived and has continued to remain at the top across the country.
On his part, the Attorney General of the State, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem while introducing the new Judges, expressed confidence that their appointment would contribute to the speedy access to justice which, according to him, is one of the cardinal points of the Governor Akinwunmi Ambode led administration.
“They have been appointed based on merit and personal competence. They also possess the personality and qualities required of judges. I am certain that this will further enhance the commitment of this administration to the socio economic well-being of Lagosians,” Kazeem said.
Responding on behalf of her colleagues, Justice Sururat Soladoye pledged loyalty to service to the State, assuring that they would remain incorruptible and sustain the excellence the Lagos State Judiciary is known for.
The new judges are Justice Sururat Soladoye; Justice Olukayode Ogunjobi and Justice Yetunde Pinheiro. The new permanent secretary is Mrs. Folasade Fasehun, Ministry of Waterfront Development.