The Chief Judge of Lagos State, Honourable Justice Opeyemi Oke has sworn in, thirty five 35 new magistrates and six Customary Court Judges.
At the swearing in of the magistrates which held at the High Court Foyer, Igbosere, Lagos,
the CJ urged the Magistrates to see their appointment as a way of advancing the cause of both common and uncommon man, just as she advised them to be mindful of the trust reposed in the judiciary by members of the public.
According to her, the faith of the society in the judiciary majorly fuels the relevance, authority and legitimacy of the judiciary, stressing that the trust in the judiciary would be lost once the confidence in the dispensation of justice is in doubt.
She admonished them in the words of the former President of the Supreme Court of Israel Aharon Barak that “adjudication is not an attempt to please everyone but a firm insistence of values and principles; not surrender to or compromise with interest groups but an insistence on upholding the law; not making decisions according to temporary whims but progressing consistently on the basis of deeply held beliefs, fundamental values and of course, the rule of law.”
Justice Oke encouraged the appointees to bring to bear all the knowledge and expertise required of them in the discharge of their duties and also acquaint themselves with the provisions of relevant laws that would aid their judicial competences.
In her words, ” As magistrates, you are responsible for the interpretation of the law in accordance with the provisions of the constitution as well as the mechanism for resolution of disputes for the purpose of ensuring equal justice, hence the need for you to constantly update your understanding of the law.”
She added that the deep knowledge of the law by the appointees and their background in the legal profession should translate into the promotion of the course of justice, maintaining a high standard of judicial conduct and abstinence from conducts unbecoming of an arbiter of justice.
“I enjoin you to shun corrupt practices absolutely as the Judicial Service Commission has zero tolerance for corruption and will not refrain from appropriately disciplining any officer found culpable after thorough investigations,” Justice Oke advised.
In the same vein Justice Oke advised the members of the customary court comprising of four Presidents and two members to act with a high level of decorum and within the dictates of your conscience. The fundamental rights, freedoms and principles underpinning our Constitutional Democracy must guide you”, she advised.
She reiterated the need for them to conduct themselves in a manner that is seen to be above board.
She said any standard that is less than that which is prescribed and other infringement shall attract the sanction of the Judicial Service Commission.
The Chief Judge enjoined them to give no room for corrupt practices as the Commission has zero tolerance for same and will be swift to appropriately discipline any officer found culpable after thorough inquiries.
“Let it resound in your hearts at all times that as Customary Court Judges and Members, you are to maintain a high standard of judicial conduct. In addition to good morals, judicial etiquettes and high ideals of conduct, it is equally important that your knowledge of the native law and custom of the people must be exceptional.
“It is now abundantly clear that a judge who is not fully aware of the law can ruin lives by interpreting the law wrongly and thereafter giving the wrong judgment. It was in the light of this that the Commission conducted a thorough screening from which you emerged as the best candidates based on your track record, integrity, ability and qualifications, and were therefore appointed without any unwarranted interference, whether externally or otherwise”, she said.
The Chief Judge said the jurisdiction of the Customary Court has been expanded, likewise their volume of cases increased significantly. She urged them to enhance their knowledge of the rudiments of case management to attract more patronage by members of the public who principally use the Court as a dispute resolution forum. She added, “the Lagos State Judicial Service Commission and I have the burning desire for the Customary Court of Lagos State to achieve distinction and we urge you to buy into this and assiduously work towards it”.
The four Presidents of the Customary Courts include Mr. Ojora-Adejiyan Adeyinka, Mrs. Ogunsanwo Adeola, Mr. Sodimu Idowu, and Mrs. Keshinro Aramide while the two members are Mrs. Olaoye Oredola and Mr. Shonowo Ayoola.