....As Anambra State Judiciary Marks 2018/2019 Legal Year with Holy Mass
By Abuchi Onwumelu
The Catholic bishop of Awka Diocese, His Lordship Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor, has exhorted judicial officers to use their hallowed profession to give direction to the nation's leaders, especially as it has to do with giving justice to the oppressed and challenging the unwarranted attack on freedom of religion and herdsmen's killings across the country, reports Abuchi Onwumelu.
Bishop Ezeokafor who gave the exhortation at St. Patrick's Catholic Cathedral, Awka, while delivering a homily during the Eucharistic Celebration and Thanksgiving Mass marking the commencement of the 2018/2019 Legal Year, urged legal practitioners to always shine the light by embracing godliness and shunning all forms of ungodliness in their practice.
'There is no doubt that there are bad eggs in the judiciary that inhibit the brilliance of your light from touching the hearts of people. Sometimes, their actions lead to the issuance of completely contradictory judgements by different courts over a particular case. This happens frequently in electoral matters. This usually creates confusion for the INEC and the masses on which judgment to adopt
'Can all the players in such scenario beat their chests and say they are truly after the truth and not selfish interests or money? I may not be able to know their motivations, but these occurrences show that we still have a lot to do to allow the light of Christ shine through our profession in unrestricted fashion.
'I am very happy, however, that the judiciary already has some in-built mechanism in place to checkmate some reckless individuals among them, especially when brazen cases of miscarriages of justice are noticed. There are already cases of sack of some judges by the Nigeria Judicial Commission over allegations of bribery and corruption. This is a way to let this profession continue to be a bearer of the light that gives hope to the poor masses and the downtrodden of society,' Bishop Ezeokafor concluded.
For his part, Governor Willie Obiano said that his administration in collaboration with the State Judiciary was developing an effective witness protection programme to facilitate prosecution of cases under the state's criminal justice system.
He identified the reluctance of witnesses to testify in certain cases as the bane of the criminal justice system, noting that the measures his administration was working out in partnership with the Judiciary, would not only speed up processes in the system but also ensure that those held in prisons for no just cause were granted freedom.
He thanked the State Judiciary for their immense support which, he said, had enabled his government to succeed, saying that he had resolved all pending issues bordering on their welfare such as cars for judges, payment of workers' leave and training allowances as well as emoluments of retired judges, among others.
On the number of prison inmates on Awaiting Trial (A.T) and the nature of criminal justices system, the governor expressed grave concern. He worried that the increase of those in awaiting trial in prisons currently was alarming.
He therefore urged the judiciary to expedite action to help society, even as he hinted that on October 1st, 2018, some inmates would be released to their families.
He commended the State House of Assembly and the Judiciary for expressly consenting to the establishment of revenue courts across the state, even as he wished them a successful legal year ahead.
The governor assured them that as an integral arm of the State Government, he was committed to supporting them to be at their best in the discharge of their duty.
Responding the State Chief Judge, Justice Peter Umeadi, said the Anambra State Judiciary under his leadership would continue to do its best to avail Ndi Anambra prompt dispensation of Justice and thanked Gov Obiano for identifying with them on the celebration.
The event which was well attended by members of the Bar and Bench from within and outside the state, aims to bring practitioners together to pray and seek the face of God for a successful new Legal Year.
The Thanksgiving Mass was attended by dignitaries among who were the State Head of Service, Barr. Henry Udu; the Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Solo Chukwulobelu; the State Attorney General and Commisioner for Justice, Hon. Barr. Uju Nwogu; C.J. emeritus of Anambra State, Hon. Justice P. C. Obidigwe; the Chief