Legal Nigeria

The Judiciary Must Reform Itself – Elo Adhekpukoli

Dear Friends, Colleagues and Seniors,

For over two weeks now, we’ve seen what we can achieve when we come together to exercise our democratic right as a people to demand good governance. The youths of this nation were largely successful to get the attention of both the Government and International Community to the excesses of some of our security operatives.

I have no doubt that even though certain elements tried to tarnish the peaceful protest, by causing mayhem, the ideals of the #EndSARS protests will not be lost on us.

The summary of the protest in one sentence is we must reform the police and the justice system. We need to remain focused as patriotic citizens.

We have seen how violence can not be the answer in a democracy. Lives have been lost, many have sustained injuries, businesses looted, historical monuments destroyed, Courts burnt, Police stations destroyed, residential settlements attacked. The worst I saw was the attack on a maternity and child hospital. That was never the intention of the protest for police reforms and good governance. I commiserate with all the victims across the country.

As we count our losses first, as citizens, and secondly, as members of the legal profession, we need to reflect soberly on why even the courts were not spared by the hoodlums. Now that the foremost High Court and Magistrate Court at Igbosere, Lagos Island, and other court houses across Lagos and other States have been destroyed, an already bad situation of unnecessary long adjournments and slow system of justice has been made worse. In the absence of an efficient electronic filing and storage system where will the litigants, their counsel and the Court Officers start from? Documents lost, that may never be retrieved, pending judgments that can not be delivered, cases starting afresh after many years, the cost and time of rebuilding the Courts…it is a terrible situation.

In the midst of the rubbles, from the ashes, the Bar and the Bench must rise like the mythical Phoenix, stronger, better and more efficient to deliver justice speedily. We must seek to take steps that insulate the judicial system from this type of mob action. We need to become digital and move away from the analogue and manual system of operations. The Judiciary must wake up and reform itself.

Yours sincerely,
Elo Adhekpukoli