It is with great joy that I welcome you all to this epoch-making event of the official presentation of flyers which preach against corruption in the Judiciary. I would also have to publicly appreciate the immense support that the National Convener, Fight Against Corruption in the Judiciary and his Team have given to the Judiciary, particularly joining forces with us to ensure corruption in the Judiciary is ultimately given a befitting funeral. On behalf of the Lagos State Judiciary, I thank you for supporting the vision of an effective, efficient and fair system of justice. Your partnership on our reform initiatives (by deploying resources benevolently for the purpose of realising our vision) illustrates your deep desire to ensure the future is bright for the Judiciary and the good people of Lagos State.
I am equally grateful for the collaborative efforts of the Five Branches of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) in our Jurisdiction, namely: Lagos, Ikeja, Ikorodu, Epe and Badagry; the Access to Justice Committee of the NBA, Ikeja Branch; and the Young Lawyers’ Forum (YLF) geared towards saving the legal profession for the future generation. I am convinced that posterity will adjudge you illustrious and noble.
THE VISION TO STAMP OUT ALL FORMS OF OFFICIAL CORRUPTION
Upon my assumption of office as the Chief Judge of Lagos State, one of my primary concerns was, and is still, to ensure a progressive upgrade of the Judiciary especially in the area of stifling corruption in the Judiciary. To this end, I am committed to ensuring that this development is brought to fruition through concerted efforts, which have been and will continue to be made.
We must therefore not lose sight of the indispensable role of the Judiciary in the fight against corruption. Corruption continues to place the Judiciary in the eye of the storm but we cannot allow that deter us or weaken our resolve. Corruption as a cankerworm has debilitating effects which rapidly destroy any system it is able to creep into.
I must emphasise the fact that even the Holy Books admonish believers to shun all acts of corruption and unequivocally condemn all forms of corruption. 1 Timothy 6:5 of the Holy Bible says thus:
“Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself”
In the same vein, the Holy Quran says in Sura 26 – Al-Shuara (MAKKA) Verse 183:
“And defraud not people of their things, and commit not corruption on the earth.”
It is regrettable that the image of the Judiciary has been tarnished by the notion that the Judiciary has been beaten by the corruption bug. Admittedly, the acts of misconduct of a few may have implanted a dent on the image of the Judiciary creating an impression that all judicial officers are corrupt; I however must say that the times have changed and the happy days of the few unscrupulous elements, who continue to soil our image, are over. I am determined to redeem the abused image of the Lagos State Judiciary. Any judicial officer found culpable will not be spared and shall be shown the exit swiftly.
It is therefore important that the vision, mission and core values are communicated to all officers for them to assimilate and internalize. The flyers will come in handy in this regard as they will be a daily reminder of the corporate goal and the need to stay committed to same.
Appreciably, since my assumption of office and the wide publication of our commitment, vision, mission statement and core values, I have constantly seen lawyers forward petitions to my office putting on an armour of boldness to follow through with same without fear or favour. This is greatly encouraging and laudable. I will however appeal to litigants and advocates to only make complaints when they have claims that are substantiated and devoid of malice.
Indeed, the war launched to fight against corruption in the Judiciary will not be easy but I can assure you that it will be worth every pint of energy put into it. I therefore beseech all officers to continually discharge their duties with utmost sense of honesty in strict adherence with our core values. I also encourage you to memorise the mission and vision statements and especially the commitment statement until they become a part of you. Not only will they help us on the job, they will also serve as an attitudinal guide in our personal lives.
Thank you very much.
Hon. Mr. Justice Opeyemi O. Oke, FCIArb
Honourable Chief Judge of Lagos State
January 18, 2018