‘Justice Ilori, a Quintessential Jurist’ – Judges, Lawyers, Others

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Lagos State Judiciary has held a valedictory court session for the late Justice Samuel Omotunde Ilori, who was the ninth Chief Judge of the state. ADEBISI ONANUGA reports

Judges, Magistrates, lawyers and other stakeholders in the justice sector converged on Lagos at the Ikeja High Court premises last week to honour a former Chief Judge of the state’s judiciary, Justice Samuel Omotunde Ilori  who passed away on October 12, 2021, at 87. He was the ninth Chief Judge of the High Court of Lagos State.

In a tribute, the Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Kazeem Alogba described the deceased as a reformer and a very good mentor to the judiciary.

Alogba, who was represented by Justice Toyin Oyekan-Abdullahi, the Admin Judge of the Lagos Division of the Lagos State High Court, said that the late Justice Ilori, even in retirement remained active in the judicial sector.

According to him, “ Justice Samuel Omotunde llori retired in relative good health and his brilliant mind was very active. He established the Law Update Consultancy Chambers  at Aret Adams House, lkorodu Road, Lagos. He offered legal advice to lawyers and arbitration to resolve disputes. He enjoyed a robust practice even in retirement.

He said the Magistrate Court House in Ogba, ‘The Samuel Omotunde Ilori Court House’ was named after him by former Governor Babatunde Fashola. He was the first Chief Judge to be so honoured by Lagos State whilst alive.

He said the coincidence of having a Court House on it named after him was therefore gratifying.

‘’Honourabke Justice S.O. Ilori lived an active and fulfilled life up till old age.”

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Justice Alogba said the late jurist would  be sorely missed by the legal community especially past and present judges of Lagos State.

The Attorney-General (A-G) of Lagos, Mr Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN) said Ilori had a stellar career at the Ministry of Justice where he served for 11-years.

Onigbanjo, who was represented by Ms Titilayo Shitta-Bey, the Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary of the Lagos State Ministry of Justice, also described Ilori’s meritorious service as a judge.

“In his 16 years of service as a judge, no one left his court with any doubt that they received substantial justice according to the law.

“Under his leadership as the ninth Chief Judge of Lagos, the Lagos Judiciary remained a pacesetter with the introduction of verbatim court recording machines to enhance efficient justice delivery,” the A-G said.

The Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General of the state, Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN), described the late Justice Ilori as an admirable and quintessential elder statesman.

“Hon. Justice Ilori was an embodiment of transparency, dependability, wisdom, humility and incorruptibility.

“His meritorious service and contribution to the growth and development of the administration of Justice in Lagos State during his active career years on the Bench will continue to be on the lips of stakeholders in the ‘legal industry’”.

Onigbanjo said Ilori, while a Judge,  had many landmark judgments to his credit and that even after his retirement, he continued to inspire serving judges and lawyers and was indeed a father and mentor to many of us.

He recalled: “At the Ministry of Justice, where he served for more than 11 years, he worked diligently through several departments and was appointed the fourth Director of Public Prosecutions. Following his sterling qualities and achievements he was subsequently appointed the fifth Solicitor -General and Permanent Secretary in Lagos State.

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“As Director of Public Prosecutions, Hon. Justice Ilori led the prosecution and built an impregnable fortress of evidence against the popular Lagos farmer, Chief Jimoh Ishola Adeyemi famously known as “Ejigbadero – The King of Land Grabbers” who was convicted and sentenced by late Hon. Justice Ishola Oluwa for the two-count charge of conspiracy to commit murder and murder of  Raji Oba. This case generated a lot of public interest and in the long run, had more impact on the policy formulation of land matters both at the Federal and State levels in Nigeria. The conviction was upheld by the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. His elevation to the Bench in 1979 didn’t come as a surprise.

“His Lordship’s decisions on the Bench constantly echoed the need for justice to be served at all times, no matter whose ox is gored; a product of nothing but courage.

The Nation

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