The Chief Judge of Lagos state, Justice Oluwafunmilayo Atilade, says judges in the state are overworked, calling for appointment of more judges to reduce the workload of the judges.
Atilade said this on Wednesday at the Banquet Hall, Lagos House, Alausa, Ikeja where the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, swore in three judges, who were newly approved for Lagos State by the National Judicial Council.
The three new judges, who were sworn in by Ambode are Justice Elizabeth Alakija, who was the Director of Public Prosecutions in Lagos State before her appointment to the bench; Justice Emmanuel Ogundare, who was the Chief Registrar of the Lagos State High Court; and Justice Serifat Solebo, who was the Deputy Chief Registrar, Special Duties, Lagos State High Court.
The swearing of the three new judges raised the number of serving judges on the Lagos State High Court bench from 55 to 58.
The Lagos State Chief Judge noted that each of the judges in the state had no fewer than 600 cases in their dockets, saying there was a need to appoint more judges.
Justice Atilade said, “On the average, a judge in Lagos has between 500 and 600 cases in his or her docket. I was talking with the Chief Judge of Ekiti State the other time and I was told that the whole of the judiciary of the state has just 400 cases.
“So, I’d like to renew my call to the CJN to approve more judges for us and I also urge Governor Ambode to approve another appointment process.”
The Chief Judge, however, urged the newly appointed judges to embrace hard work and dispense justice without fear or favour.
In his remarks, Ambode said the new judges were appointed having been adjudged to be fit and proper.
The governor, who noted that it was the first time he would swear in judges since assuming office, described the exercise as a milestone in his administration’s commitment to enhancing the quality of life of the people through a justice administration system that is just and fair.
He said over the years, the Lagos State judiciary, apart from being the busiest and most vibrant in the country, had established a reputation for itself as a trailblazer with its intellectual judicial pronouncements that had stood the test of time at appellate courts.
The governor pledged that his administration would initiative key reforms in the judiciary especially in areas of infrastructure, technology, people and processes and improved welfare for the judiciary.
Amode said, “I congratulate the newly appointed judges for being adjudged fit and proper persons to be on the respected higher bench of the busiest and most vibrant state judiciary in the country.
“In the end, we hope to bequeath a more vibrant and qualitative judiciary and justice sector fit for the 21st century and beyond. It is also my hope that with the caliber and qualities of these new learned personalities, our bench will be further enriched to effectively discharge its constitutional functions and deliver hope and justice to our people.”
He reminded the judges that with their new status, their conducts and carriage had become subject of public scrutiny.
Responding on behalf of the new judges, Justice Alakija pledged that they would “exercise our duty diligently without fear and favour, because we have been appointed for a purpose and we will abide by the laws, rules, code and conduct.”