In a bid to increase the capacity of the Lagos State judiciary, Governor Babatunde FasholaÂ on Thursday appointed seven High Court judges making the number of judges in the State HighÂ Court 56
Speaking at the ceremony held at Adeyemi Bero Auditorium, Alausa with serving and retiredÂ judges, members of the inner bar and relations of the new appointees in attendance, FasholaÂ expressed confidence that the judicial system will continue to uphold the rights of theÂ people and ensure a healthy and fair balance between individual rights and the publicÂ interest.
The governor described the occasion as another milestone in the journey to enhance theÂ quality of life of the people through credible and efficient administration of justice whichÂ is also one of the great events of constitutional democracy.
He noted that the judiciary is the instrument of social equilibrium in any constitutionalÂ democracy as it is also the bridge between conflict and order, the thread of hope to theÂ hopeless and the ultimate arbiter of competing claims.
The governor who disclosed that with the addition of the new judges, the number of judges inÂ the Lagos State judiciary is now 56, the highest nationwide, added that judges in Lagos areÂ always tasked by members of the bar because the most sophisticated legal practice in theÂ country takes place in Lagos State.
While advocating that the case for more judges for the Lagos bench can never be too stronglyÂ made as the economy and the population continue to grow, Fashola said: â€œIf we are not toÂ slide back to the days of court congestion, the capacity of judges per litigant must beÂ increased even as the state continues to pursue automation and technology to improveÂ efficiencyâ€.
While quoting from the often cited dicta in R v. Sussex Justices Ex Parte McCarthy (1923)Â All ER 233 which is cited with approval in several Nigerian Supreme Court judgments to theÂ effect that â€œâ€¦justice should be manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be doneâ€, FasholaÂ explained that what this means is that justice must be recognised by the public as presentÂ in the judgments of the courts. Such judgments, he said, must inspire public confidence andÂ meet with the wide and general endorsement of right thinking men and women and not merelyÂ the whim or belief of one person.
He said one of the most daunting tasks confronting a judge in the exercise of judicialÂ powers is how to maintain a delicate balance between individual rights, either in theÂ context of civil or criminal matters, and public interest.
The governor noted that one area where this task is more profound is in the area of privateÂ property rights vis- a-vis the public interest manifested in infrastructure and urbanÂ renewal projects.
â€œWhile our constitution recognises the superiority of public interest over private interestsÂ and provide for a process of compulsory acquisition and compensation, the matter can becomeÂ more challenging. As in all cases, the ultimate test in my view should be what will bringÂ the greatest good or benefit to the greatest number of citizens,â€ he said.
While praying that God grant the new appointees the strength and courage to fulfill theÂ onerous demands of the judicial oath administered on them, Fashola addedÂ that, â€œcourageÂ does not mean the absence of fear; on the contrary, it means the ability to continue withÂ quiet dignity on the path of truth and rectitude, inspite of those fearsâ€.
Speaking earlier while presenting the newly appointed judges, the Chief Judge of LagosÂ State, Justice Inumidun Akande reminded them of the need to diligently commit their minds toÂ the spirit and letters of their oath of office.
She charged them to conduct themselves in a manner that will inspire public confidence andÂ erase the notion of partiality of any kind as people are watching. She also urged them toÂ strictly adhere to the code of conduct to sustain the independence of the judiciary.
â€œI enjoin you to shun every act of corruption and all temptations that tend towards corruptÂ practices. The fear of God must always be at the centre of your activities, knowing fullÂ well that God Almighty is the ultimate judge,â€ Akande added.
The newly appointed judges are Justice Mariam Olajumoke Emeya, Justice Ibironke OlatunbosunÂ Harrison, Justice Christopher Ayodeji Balogun, Justice Kafeel Omobolaji Dawodu, JusticeÂ Latifat Atinuke Fadeke Oluyemi, Justice Latifat Abiola Morayo Folami and Justice OlubunmiÂ Olutoyin Femi-Adeniyi.
The ceremony was attended by members of the State Executive Council, members of the StateÂ House of Assembly, Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Aremu Osuolale Akiolu I, Commissioner of PoliceÂ Mr Marvel Akpoyibo, the Convener of the Save Nigeria Group, Pastor Tunde Bakare and manyÂ other dignitaries from all walks of life.