Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has expressed worry over the integrity of the nation’s legal process as well as the actors.
Osinbajo expressed the concerns on Friday when he chaired a Wole Olanipekun and Co, WOC, Justice Summit on Justice Sector Reforms, which was held in celebration of the 70th birthday of Chief Wola Olanipekun in Lagos.
According to a release by his spokesman, Laolu Akande, Osinbajo insisted that the Nigerian judiciary must address the issue of delays in processing cases through the courts.
The Vice President wondered what would happen to the country’s legal profession in “another 50 years given the gridlock in processing cases through the courts and the question of the integrity of the legal process, or better still, the integrity of actors in the legal process in Nigeria.”
He recalled, “how the UK Court of Appeal had occasion to comment in the case of (IPCO v. NNPC (2015) EWCA Civ 1144) where a challenge to the enforcement of a Nigerian seated arbitration tribunal award came before the English Court of Appeal” explaining that “the court referred to the delays in the parallel proceedings before a Nigerian Court as catastrophic and that it could take a further 30 years to resolve.”
“Incidentally, the expert witness, who testified on delays in the Nigerian Courts was a former Justice of the Supreme Court who testified that a case could take 20 to 30 years to resolve in a Nigerian Court.”
Urging further engagements by stakeholders on the integrity of the legal process and its key actors, particularly judges and lawyers towards proffering solutions to the challenge of delay in court processes, he said he looked forward to their conversations even as he suggested that they focus on practical, and implementable ideas, not a rehash of the problems adding that they were all experts at knowing the problem.
The Vice President described the celebrant as one of the most consequential and influential lawyers in the commonwealth, adding that beyond his accolades and achievements, he has impacted many lives through his kindness, philanthropy and faith.
Thanking God for giving the legal luminary an ever-youthful physique and disposition, Osinbajo said, “Chief Olanipekun’s great intellect, mastery of the law, its substance and its technicalities, his incredible ability to get to the heart of the matter and to let whole panels of judges see his sometimes daring points; his disarming wit and humour, his sometimes lyrical and poetic submissions, quoting from the classics and the Scriptures, make him easily one of the most outstanding minds in the legal profession in this or any other generation.”