SOME Lagos-based lawyers on Tuesday, underscored the need for cordial and robust relationship between the bar and bench in the interest of justice.
The lawyers made the call in an interview with a correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos as the judiciary enters a new legal year after the COVID-19 lockdown.
They agreed that there was a dire need for effective interaction between the bar and bench in a bid to foster Justice delivery.
A social critic, Mr Spurgeon Ataene, told NAN that the justice sector after the lockdown and the resumption of a new legal year should exert energies towards personnel training and reorientation.
He said that the services of experts at character building should also be deployed to this effect.
On the interaction between the bar and bench, Ataene noted that the character of judicial officers and workers have been the bane of an effective legal system.
“There is absolutely no bar-bench relationship in our judiciary; the idea of insulating judges and magistrates from the public has been blatantly misinterpreted and taken too far by judicial authorities to the extent that some do not respond to innocuous greetings of lawyers.
“While in court you can feel a heavy “descent to the arena” once they have taken a biased position.; they play demigods when you appear before them,” he said.
According to Ataene, the sanctity of the bench stay eroded as a result of such absence of a cordial relationship between these important elements of the justice sector.
“In the criminal division, some suspects languish in custody notwithstanding flagrant violation of citizens’ rights.
“Sometimes you hear of practice direction in respect of some offences and their rampancy in the society not minding that no two cases can be so alike.
“Lawyers are supposed to be subservient according to this judicial expectation, but this appears not to be the case nowadays.
“This attitudinal posture appears to have rubbed off on the judicial workers who will find every occasion to insult a counsel for as little as making enquiries about cases and not doing their biddings.
“This has got to stop; the NBA, is our mouth piece and it must do a lot to correct such anomalies,” he said
Ataene, therefore, urged that the new legal year opens a good opportunity to.foster a more workable interaction between the bar and the bench.
On his part, a constitutional lawyer, Mr Anthony Makolo said that the new legal year must now be characterised by speedy dispensation of Justice.
According to him, judges must now learn to eschew motion papers or applications targetted at clogging the wheels of timely Justice dispensation and adopt a more speedy approach.
“Some applications which ordinarily requires a decisive bench ruling are adjourned for months and this is inimical to speedy Justice delivery,” he said
Makolo also harped on a need for the establishment of a routine bar and bench forum, which he said will be aimed at adopting effective measures of enhancing and promoting Justice delivery.
Another Lagos-based lawyer, Mr Ogedi Ogu, believes that the new legal year should focus on the lessons derived from the COVID-19 lockdown, and seek to equip the Judiciary to tackle future occurrences.
“The COVID-19 experience has shown that we need to improve on every sector and aspects of the economy and judiciary is not left out
“In this new legal year, I propose that the judiciary looks inward and seek to improve on ways to keep it active and alive in case of future occurrences.
“It is important that the Justice sector utilizes the current experience to better the Judiciary and ensure a speedy dispensation of justice,” he said
According to Ogu, the Judiciary must now put itself a step ahead and adopt measures to cushion the effect of such lockdown on the justice system in the future, by ensuring that court proceedings are not disrupted.
– Sept. 29, 2020 @ 11:54 GMT /