Catholic lawyers, judges in particular, have been urged to inculcate godly values and virtues, as well as pray for guidance and wisdom in dispensing justice without fear or favour as the people look up to the court as their last hope. The charge was given by Most Rev. (Dr.) Alfred Adewale Martins, Archbishop of Lagos, at the New Legal Year Mass of National Association of Catholic Lawyers (NACL), Lagos Archdiocese, held recently at the Holy Cross Cathedral, Lagos. Archbishop Martins said that in spite of the challenges confronting those who administer justice in the country, the people still have hope in the court and lots of expectations from the judges.
Speaking on public perception of the Nigerian judiciary, Archbishop Martins said many people feel disappointed by some of the judgements from the courts, as he added that some have arrived at the conclusion that there is no guarantee of getting justice in court any longer. According to him, “I know it is not in the hands of members of this association to change that perception, but one can only ask that members of the Catholic Association of Lawyers will not in any way contribute to that perception, either by omission or by commission. “Indeed, we hope that values and virtues that you hold as Catholic lawyers will continue, in order to see what way that perception, right or wrong, can be ameliorated and the situation now different in the minds of people.” The Prelate commended the professionals for coming to seek the face of God, adding that It is an indication that they are men and women of faith, who recognise the role of God in their lives and career and ready to submit themselves to God’s guidance.
Speaking on the occasion, Barr. Florence Atuluku, President, NACL, Lagos Archdiocese said the essence of the Mass was to enable the legal practitioners to reflect on their roles in society, adding that the legal profession is at a cross road with moral and other forms of decadence. On making a difference, she said as Catholic lawyers, they are leveraging on their faith as Christians to see how they can be instruments of change, making positive impact and ensuring equity, justice, and fairness across board irrespective of religion or faith. On people’s loss of confidence in the courts, owing to the (court) judgements in recent times, she said what is happening in the legal profession is a reflection of everything that has gone wrong in the society.
She called on all to take ownership of their different laws, work hard to restore confidence in the legal profession and ensure that justice is done without fear or favour. Profferring solutions to judicial problems, Anthony Idigbe, SAN, said there is need to do more around capacity-building, training, ethics, among other things to ensure that quality judgements come out of the courts. ”When I say the judicial system, I mean the lawyers, the judges working, playing their various roles, they would be accepted by the society and then there would be a sort of convergence between the actual performance and the perception of the society”, he said.