The Bishop of Lagos, Anglican Communion, Rev. Adebayo Akinde, has decried the high rate of evil in the country and warned judges not to deprive the poor and the vulnerable of justice.
Akinde spoke yesterday at a special church service held at the Christ Cathedral, Marina, Lagos, to mark the commencement of 2013/2014 legal year in the Lagos State judiciary.
The bishop also condemned the upsurge in crime in the country, just as he called on the Federal Government to put an end to insurgency in parts of the north. According to him, the spate of corruption in the country has reached an unprecedented height, admonishing judges to always have the fear of God in the discharge of their duties.
Bishop Akinde said; “Do not accept bribe in the course of discharging your duties. Be conscious of righteousness and fairness and abide by the ethics of your profession and the Oaths of Office you swore to. “Do your best in your service to the nation and humanity.
Ensure you thoroughly cross check all facts before passing verdict and be sure of whom you follow while doing your job. “Have the fear of God at all times because the judiciary remains the only instrument to put the country on the right path.” The bishop said as ministers in the temple of justice, judge must be sure of their facts before delivering judgement, warning that God will bring everything to judgement.
Also at the Central Mosque, Lagos, where another service was held to mark the legal year, Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, stressed the importance of plea bargaining in the criminal justice system, adding that it aids speedy dispensation of justice.
Fashola, who was represented by the Attorney- General and Commissioner for Justice, Ade Ipaye, said plea bargaining was necessary, especially in situations where prisons are congested.
The governor noted that the nation’s judicial system relies on witnesses rather than forensic evidence, a development which he said makes it difficult to discard the plea bargain concept if cases are to be concluded on time. He called on all stakeholders in the justice system to get involved to avoid delay in the administration of justice. “Everybody must be involved if the administration of justice will not be delayed. They should comply with new court rules and ensure adherence to efiling and the digitalisation of the judicial system.”
While disclosing that about 100 litigants received legal aids from the state in the last legal year, Fashola urged lawyers to engage in pro bono services with a view to assisting those who cannot afford the services of a lawyer. In his remarks, the National Education Secretary, Ansar-Ud-Deen Society of Nigeria, Prof. Tajudeen Gbadamosi, urged members of the legal profession not to allow their selfish interests interfere with the dispensation of justice in the country.