Fashola seeks amendment to constitution to enable states appoint judges

Gov. Babatunde Fashola of Lagos on Friday advocated constitutional amendment to allow states nominate and appoint judges without seeking National Judicial Council’s approval.

Fashola made the call after administering oath of office to the four newly appointed judges of the Lagos State High Court.

The new justices were Iyabo Akinkugbe, Serifat Sonaike, Abdulfattah Lawal and Abisoye Bashua.

He said that the addition of four judges to the existing 50 in the state was inadequate to meet the demands for justice by its citizenry.

“We submitted seven names to the NJC for consideration; regrettably, only four were approved.

“In a federation, who should determine the number of judges that a state needs? Is it the state that needs it or national agency?

“If we can pay the remuneration of our judges, provide official cars and houses for them, nobody should prevent us from appointing more judges,’’ he said.

Fashola said that he participated in the recent International Bar Association Conference in Tokyo, Japan, but no judge from the state was in attendance.

“When I asked, they said they needed permission from the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) in order to travel, and I said that was news to me.

“The last time I checked, the Supreme Court where the CJN preside has only appellate jurisdiction over subordinate courts.

“I didn’t see that there was administrative jurisdiction over state high courts,’’ he said.

The governor urged the new judges to be incorruptible, adding that there was no corrupt judge in the state judiciary.

“I must say that in the last 16 years, issues of corruption in the Lagos State judiciary are heading toward the museum and that is a proud record to have.

“I think that we can say confidently today that there is no corrupt judge in the Lagos State judiciary.

`Our judges have stood up to be counted; to give judgment according to their knowledge and conscience,’’ Fashola said.

He urged them to emulate legal jurists like the late Justices Kayode Eso and Charles Oputa, whom he said, displayed exemplary courage and stood on the right side of history.

“We must move now, not only to be incorruptible judges, but to become very courageous judges who apply the law irrespective of whose ox is gored.’’

The state Chief Judge, Justice Olufunmilayo Atilade, urged the judges to adhere to the ethics of the profession and conduct themselves properly at all times.

“I urge you all to live up to your callings and be faithful to the oath you have taken today,’’ Atilade said.

On his part, Mr Ade Ipaye, the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, said that the appointment of the judges was necessitated by the recent vacancies in the judiciary.

Akinkugbe, who spoke on behalf of the new judges, said that they would discharge their duties with dedication, fairness and the fear of God.

(NAN)

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