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NBA Conference: CJN, Sanwo-Olu, Adichie Call For Judicial Reforms

Speakers at the Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) yesterday called for the reform of the Nigerian judiciary to position the country on the path of transformational change.

The speakers include the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, the governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and popular author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie all insisted that there can not be peace without justice.

Justice Ariwoola, who was represented by the Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Kazeem Alogba, said the bar and bench must return to the days when the ethics of the legal profession was upheld and enforced.

He said that the justice sector is very important to the survival of Nigeria so all stakeholders must ensure that it is protected and improved upon so that it can continue to provide hope for the masses.

“These are the times when boldness becomes necessary, and so, no better theme could have been chosen, and no better words could have been chosen to highlight what we truly need in Nigeria.

NBA Conference

NBA Conference

“It is not because others cannot speak good English and even with latin maxims but because you are learned in the real sense of the word such that every other profession comes behind the legal profession

“It is because of who we are, gentlemen and ladies; therefore, that tradition must be restored, ” he said.

Also speaking at the conference, which has over 13,000 delegates in attendance, Sanwo-Olu said the state’s judicial system had upheld the legacies of the past administration in the improvement of the legal practice in the country.

The governor, who was represented by the state’s Attorney-General, Moyosore Onigbanjo, also stated “we have continually transformed our structures, building new courtrooms, renovating existing ones, to create a more conducive environment for our judges and to efficiently administer justice.

“I can boldly say that no state takes the funding of judiciary as serious as Lagos State, and this is a legacy that has been sustained by successive administrations since 1999,” he said.

In her keynote address titled, ‘Bold Transition’, Mrs. Adichie noted that rising insecurity in the country is a fundamental problem of the failure of the rule of law.

She also stressed the NBA has a great role to play in the success of the forthcoming general election in the country.

She said, “we are counting on the NBA to act as our collective social conscience in the forthcoming election in 2023”, she said.

”Nigeria is in disarray. Things are hard and getting harder by the day. We can’t be safe when there is no role of law. Nigerians are starved of heroes to look up to.

“Late Dora Akunyili and Gani Gawehimmi were heroes that Nigerians looked up to before now. Unfortunately, that era has gone. I believe that NBA is in a position to give the nation, heroes that we can look up to the lead the nation.

“As long as we refuse to untangle the knot of injustice, peace cannot thrive. If we don’t talk about it, we fail to hold leaders accountable and we turn what should be transparent systems into ugly opaque cults.

“My experience made me think there’s something dead in us, in our society; a death of self-awareness and ability for self-criticism.

There’s a need for resurrection. We cannot avoid self-criticism but criticize the government. We cannot hide our institutional failure while demanding transparency from the government, she stated”

Adichie further advocated for an uncorrupted judicial system and called on the NBA to leverage technology in the judicial process and the administration of justice in the country.

She said, “Nigerians are disillusioned because they know of the decline of professionalism in some sections of the legal profession. As the NBA continues to fight the abuse of power, it must also look inward not to be corrupted.

Adiche said Nigerians must be fair in their criticisms before peace can thrive, adding that they should become responsible before holding the leaders responsible.

She said: “As long as we refuse to untangle the knot of injustice, peace cannot thrive. If we don’t talk about it, we fail to hold leaders accountable and we turn what should be transparent systems into ugly opaque cults.

“My experience made me think there’s something dead in us, in our society; a death of self-awareness and ability for self-criticism.

“There’s a need for resurrection. We cannot avoid self-criticism but criticise the government. We cannot hide our own institutional failure while demanding transparency from the government.”

While commending the NBA for traditionally defending citizens’ rights, she lamented a decline in professionalism.

She said: “Nigerians are disillusioned because they know of the decline of professionalism in some sections of the legal profession.

“As the NBA continues to fight the abuse of power, it must also look inward not to be corrupted.

“One way is to simplify the legal procedure. We deny justice when we delay justice. Technology should also be used. It is time for the full use of technology in the administration of justice.

“Today, the word ‘disruptive’ has taken on a more positive and perhaps even a more trendy connotation. It now tends to mean innovative and original especially concerning technology and access to information. Troublesome and innovative.

“They might seem opposed to each other but I will argue that these two understandings of disruptive hang their pride on the NBA.

“Many people who have abused their positions of power in Nigeria would describe the NBA as troublesome.”

The NBA president Mr Olumide Akpata in his welcome address said  it was the greatest privilege of his life to have piloted the association.

4th October 2022
Nigerian Pantagraph
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