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Osinbajo urges judges, lawyers to end slow judicial process


Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) has said that, as a matter of urgency, the Nigerian judiciary must address the issue of delays in processing cases through the courts.

This is as he referred to delays in the Nigerian judicial process as the “elephant in the room;” wondering what would happen to the country’s legal profession in “another 50 years given the gridlock in processing cases through the courts and the question of the integrity of the legal process.

Osinbajo said this on Friday in Lagos when he chaired a Wole Olanipekun & Co., Justice Summit on Justice Sector Reforms in celebration of the 70th birthday of Wole Olanipekun, SAN.

Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, disclosed this on Saturday in a statement titled, ‘Why we must address slow judicial process, by Osinbajo’.

Highlighting delays in Nigerian courts, the Vice President recalled “how the UK Court of Appeal had occasion to comment in the case of (IPCO v. NNPC [2015] EWCA Civ 1144) where a challenge to the enforcement of a Nigerian seated arbitration tribunal award came before the English Court of Appeal.

“The court referred to the delays in the parallel proceedings before a Nigerian Court as catastrophic and that it could take a further 30 years to resolve.

“Incidentally, the expert witness who testified on delays in the Nigerian Courts was a former Justice of the Supreme Court who testified that a case could take 20 to 30 years to resolve in a Nigerian Court,” the Vice President stated.

Prof. Osinbajo urged for further engagements by stakeholders on the integrity of the legal process and its key actors, particularly judges and lawyers towards proffering solutions to the challenge of delay in court processes.

He also suggested that the deliberators focus on practical, and implementable ideas, not a rehash of the problems, saying “We are all experts at knowing the problem.”

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The Vice President described the celebrant, Olanipekun, “as one of the most consequential and influential lawyers in the commonwealth”, adding that beyond his accolades and achievements, he has impacted many lives through his kindness, philanthropy and faith.

Thanking God for giving the legal luminary “an ever-youthful physique and disposition,” Osinbajo said, “Chief Olanipekun’s great intellect, mastery of the law, its substance and its technicalities, his incredible ability to get to the heart of the matter and to let whole panels of judges see his sometimes daring points; his disarming wit and humour, his sometimes lyrical and poetic submissions, quoting from the classics and the Scriptures, make him easily one of the most outstanding minds in the legal profession in this or any other generation.

On his part, the celebrant, Olanipekun, SAN, said the Justice Summit organised by his law firm is among his modest contributions to the advancement of the justice delivery system in Nigeria, noting that the thorny issue of integrity and the urgent need for reforms in the sector, remain worrisome and should be of concern to stakeholders.

Panelists at the event included the immediate past Vice-Chancellor of the Lagos State University, Prof. Olarenwaju Fagbohun, who delivered the keynote address on the theme “Implementing Justice Sector Reforms”, the Chief Judge of Borno State, Justice Kashim Zannah who spoke on “Entrenching Integrity of Processes in Judicial Appointments”, while a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Paul Galumje spoke on “Entrenching Integrity of Processes in Judicial Reforms”.

Others were Human Rights Lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN, who spoke on “Political Influence on Judicial Appointments”; former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Abubakar Mahmud, SAN, who spoke on “How to balance diversity, gender, inclusion and merit in judicial appointments”, and Funke Adekoya, SAN, spoke about “Essential collaborations for successful implementation of justice sector reforms.”

There was also a non-lawyer contributor at the WOC Justice Summit, Ibukun Awosika who spoke on the “Implications of judicial reforms on public trust.”

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