The Faculty of Law, University of Lagos (UNILAG) over the weekend, celebrated staff who recently got elevated to the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and those appointed as Professors.
The glamorous event held at the Radisson Hotels on Sunday, May 7, 2023 attracted legal practitioners, Senior Advocates, Captains of Industry and the crème de la crème in society. It provided a platform for the recognition and award presentations to some notable Nigerians who have distinguished themselves in the legal profession.
The awardees include former Senior Lecturer in the Faculty, and now a High Court Judge, Hon. Justice (Dr) Razak Oriyomi Olukolu; the first occupier of the Lagos State endowed Chair on Tax & Fiscal Matters in the University, Professor Abiola Sanni; Oludayo Gabriel Amokaye of Private and Property Law and Mr. Wahab Shittu, a Senior Lecturer at the Jurisprudence and International Law Department who were recently elevated to the inner bar and sworn in as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) as well as newly appointed Professors including Professor Wale Olawoyin, SAN; Professor Gbenga Akingbehin; Professor Iyabo Ogunniran and Professor Oluwakemi Adekile.
Speaking at the event, the Dean of the Faculty, Professor Ige Bolodeoku, commended the honourees for adding value to the quality of academic and legal output. He attributed the feat achieved by the honourees to hard work and commitment to excellence.
In her address titled “Two sides of the Courtroom: The Bench and the Bar”, the Guest speaker at the event, Justice Olasumbo Goodluck, who was ably represented by Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye highlighted the role of the legal profession and the challenges of judicial administration.
She described that the legal profession as a respectable and reputable one, and that those in practice must recognize that they are trustees of its procedures and institutions.
According to Justice Ipaye, “Members of the profession must maintain proper conduct and high standards to demonstrate the seriousness of legal practice.”
On whether Litigation is still working as a mechanism to Conflict resolution, Justice Ipaye took the audience on a cursory look at the history of Nigeria’s judiciary with four distinct eras: the period of indigenous jurisdiction before 1842, the native Court Era between 1843 –1912, the period between 1914 to 1953 and 1954 to date.
The judge pointed out that delay, which she described as a “monster”, was the most critical problem affecting the justice system. Her words, “If the truth be told, I believe the most recognizable problem of justice administration is the horrid monster of delay.”
Justice Ipaye noted that the response to this problem is different in each jurisdiction. She observed that in the United States, for instance, Chief Justice Warren Earl Burger, credited as being the greatest reformer of the court system in 20th century America, took definitive steps to address the lingering problems of court congestion and delays.
“He was a proponent for extensive training of court managers. He convened a National Conference of Chief Judges and Court Administrators in Williamsburg, Virginia in February 1971, which ultimately led to the establishment of the National Centre for State Courts (NCSC) to promote research aimed at improving Court administration in the state and local courts.”
Having discussed the relationship between the Bar and Bench, their ethical obligations and other cross-cutting issues, Justice Ipaye posited that the relationship between the Bar and the Bench should be of true partnership and that they must work together in harmony, as well as mutually respect each other and uplift the image of the profession.
While recommending Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) as a way to manage the justice-administrative challenges, Justice Ipaye opined that members of the bar must see themselves as ministers in the temple of justice who have a duty not only to their clients but the nation at large.
Others guests at the event include the Attorney General of Oyo State, Professor Oyelowo Oyewo SAN; Justice Oshoala; Former Commissioner of Transportation, Lagos State, Dr. Muiz Banire, SAN, former President, Institute of Chartered Accountant of Nigeria (ICAN); Mr. Razak Jaiyeola, FCA; Professor Taiwo Osipitan, SAN; Acting Director, Works and Physical Planning, Engineer Akinwande and his wife among others.