Mr Lateef Fagbemi, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice has said that the Judiciary was critical to the fight against corruption in the country.
He made the remark on Monday in Abuja at the annual reunion and award of the members of the Class of ’85’ of the Nigerian Law School.
Fagbemi was the pioneer member of the class to ever be conferred with the rank of the Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) in 1996 11 years after his call to the Bar.
In his remarks, the AGF, who was one of the awardees, solicited the support and advice of the members of the class in the discharge of his duties.
“On my new appointment, I want to solicit for your support, prayers and advice in ensuring that we succeed in the task ahead. The tasks are by no means easy.
Fagbemi said: “We have a lot of work to do in the war against corruption, in the reforms of legal education, in the judiciary and in the administration of justice generally.
“Be rest assured as an ambassador in this administration, I will not let the class or the nation down.
‘When I settle down, I will also pay attention to the needs of the Nigerian law school and how best to assist them.”
He also congratulated the 34 other members of the class who were honoured.
“I can see that quite a few of them are Heads of different Courts in Nigeria. I believe the honour is well deserving as a testimonial that the awardees are worthy ambassadors of this class.
“I happily rejoice with all the awardees and urge them to keep up their good works that had earned them this honour,” the minister added.
On the ongoing project of the group, the establishment of a medical centre at Lagos Campus of the Nigerian Law School, Fagbemi said that in spite of the challenges in the take off of the project, it must still go on.
He urged that all hands must be on deck towards the execution and delivery of the project.
“I will continue to do my utmost best in assisting toward the early completion of that project,” Fagbemi said.
The Life Chairman of the association, Emeka Ngige (SAN) said that the members had fared reasonably well.
He said: “We have celebrated numerous appointments, elevations and other achievements by members of this great Class.
“I am happy to note that within the year under review, four of our class members were appointed as Heads of Courts in Ondo, Oyo, Benue and Kaduna States.
“We also witnessed the appointment of one us as Secretary to the Government of Lagos State.
“The climax is now the appointment of our Leader, Prince Fagbemi as Nigeria’s 24th Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.”
Ngige said that the project for the establishment of the medical centre at Lagos Campus was likely to gulp the sum of N400 million.
He added: “To make the execution of the project less strenuous, we have revised the execution period. The project, including furnishing and equipment will now be within 24 months.
“The plan is to ensure that the medical centre is ready for commissioning in 2025 when, by the special grace of God, we will be marking our 40 years of Call to Bar.”
The Chairman of the Local Organising Committee, Sen. Ita Enang said that the reunion was a way of giving back to the universities they graduated from.
He said: “Each of us come together to say although we are each from the Nigerian Law School Class of 85, what is happening to the Faculty of Law that we graduated from.
“It’s our way of giving back to the university that raised us. What can we contribute to society that can make meaning to society as we are aging and making progress in society.”
Enang urged the Federal Government to set up a Judicial Commission of Enquiry as to the loans taken by Nigeria in a bid to tackle the dwindling economy.
He said: “We need to what the loans were applied for and the repayment we are making, among others.
“The President has enough courage. They should recommend every person, wherever he is today who was part of taking any loan, in charge of managing that loan and tell us what happened to that money.”
On his part, one of the members of the class, Patrick Ikwueto (SAN), who called for judicial reforms said that the reforms in the judiciary were quite enormous.
He said that the reforms in the sector should start first of all with the manner with which appointments were made.
Ikwueto said: “It will start also by making the judiciary really independent. Independent in the sense of not just saying it’s independent.
“This is because until the judiciary becomes its manager of its affairs, control of its resources and funds, it cannot really be said to be independent.
“The courts have to be decongested. The Justices are overworked and we need to think of how we decongest cases in court.”(NAN)