•New legal year begins with religious services
Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode yesterday restated his administration’s commitment to the rule of law.
Describing the judiciary as the citizens’ last hope, he vowed to carry out judicial reforms.
He spoke at the Cathedral Church of Christ during a special service to mark the 2016/2017 Legal Year.
At the service were former chief judges of Lagos, including Justice Ayotunde Phillips, retired judges, magistrates, judicial workers, Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) and other lawyers, who turned out in their ceremonial attires.
A Muslim service was held at the Lagos Central Mosque, where the head, Department of Religions and Peace Studies, Lagos State University, Ojo, Prof. Lateef Adetona, delivered a lecture.
Ambode said: “The judiciary remains the only and the last hope of the citizens in Lagos State.
“Our administration is determined to enthrone the rule of law and protect the less-privileged in our society, and that is why we’ve laid so much emphasis on judicial sector reforms, and we believe strongly that this we can also do together.
“I just want to urge all in the judicial sector that we should discharge our duties with the fear of God.
“In this new legal year, let just innovate and reform, so that the Lagos State judiciary continues to retain its pride of place in Nigeria.”
The governor said the Executive would continue to work harmoniously with the judiciary for the state’s good.
The Lord Bishop of Lagos Mainland, Rev. Akinpelu Johnson, said judges had a divine mandate, which, according to him, is to do justice without fear or favour.
The scriptures, he said, specified that only capable people, who fear God and hate dishonesty, should be appointed judges.
He urged the judges to always do justice and ensure it is seen to have been done.
At the Lagos Central Mosque, Adetona, who spoke in English, advised judges to be wary of receiving gifts from members of the society, emphasising that such gifts can impact negatively on them in the course of dispensing justice.
Rather, he admonished them to dispense justice with the fear of Allah, which commands believers to see one another as equals even when their family is involved.
Prof. Adetona, who spoke on “Islam and Dispensation of Justice”, said: “Judges should restrain themselves from ungodly things that are vicious and unholy”.
He stressed that they “must stand out wherever, and in whatever condition they find themselves”.
The Islamic scholar, who quoted extensively from the Qura’n, berated judges, who were tyrannical in their judgment for selfish reasons.
“Judges are three: two will be in hell and one will be in paradise. The judge who knows the truth and give judgment contrary to it will be in hell. The judge whose judgment is based upon ignorance will be in hell. But the judge, who knows the truth and give judgment in accordance with it will be in paradise,” the don said.
The Imam, Shitta-Bey Central Mosque, who delivered his sermon in Yoruba, Ustaz Habibillahi Taofiq, counselled government to allow judges unfettered hands in adjudicating matters brought before them.
The Chief Imam of Lagos State, Alhaji Mohammed Akinola, who led the special dua (supplication), prayed Allah to give judges wisdom with which to adjudicate and deliver judgment truthfully and without fear or favour.