Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo on Monday identified delay in the administration of justice as a major challenge that must be jointly tackled by all relevant stakeholders in the justice sector, just as he urged judges, lawyers and others to change their attitudes and stand up for what is right.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of a two-day Stakeholder’s Summit organized by the Lagos State Ministry of Justice at the Convention Centre of Eko Hotels and Suites in Lagos, Osinbajo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said stakeholders in the administration of justice must now begin to take the issue of delay more seriously and shun all forms of delay tactics.
Osinbajo, who was the keynote speaker at the summit with the theme: “Contemporary Trends: Catalysts For Justice Sector Reform in Lagos State,” called on the judiciary, as a way out of the problem, to embrace day-to-day system for trials and heavy punishment for deliberate act of delay aimed at stalling cases.
The Vice President, who was represented by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), said it was also important for the judiciary to introduce significant costs for delay occasioned especially by lateness, ill-preparedness or deliberate tactics.
While alluding to plethora of statistics and judicial decisions especially a 2014 English Court of Appeal judgment where it was stated that ‘cases take up to a generation to be resolved in Nigeria occasioned by catastrophic delays,’ Osinbajo said stakeholders must now resolve to address the issue of delay once and for all in the collective interest of all.
He took a swipe at some judges who would not sit on time and rise early and lawyers who file frivolous applications and employ other delay tactics as well as shoddy police investigation, and admonish them to desist from such.
“If we can agree that these problems are against our collective interests as practitioners and stakeholders, then we must make a firm commitment to tackle the problems by changing our attitude and standing up for what is right,” Osinbajo said.
Speaking on the summit, the Vice President said Lagos State had a general reputation for trailblazing reforms in the justice sector and in many other sectors in Nigeria and beyond, adding that the summit, which is aimed at further initiating reforms in conformity with modern trends, was another testament of the fact that the reputation of the State was being taken seriously by the current administration ably led by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode.
He said even though Nigeria was just clawing its way out of recession, it was gratifying that the State Government deemed it important to invest in the summit to address some of the institutional challenges preventing the country from developing a first-class justice system in its commercial nerve centre.