By Abdulwahab Abdulah
Justice Augustine Adetula Alabi, the Â Â Â chief judge of the High Court of Lagos Â Â Â State will today (Friday) bows out of the judiciary after five years in saddle as the number one man in the state judiciary.Â Justice Alabi, a native of Ido/ Ani in Ose local government area of Ondo state held sway as the chief Judge of the state for five years. He was sworn-in as the chief Judge of the state on July 8, 2004.
Already, two most senior Judges from the state high court, Justices Inumidun Akande and Ayo Phillips are contending for the office of the Chief Judge, but it was learnt that Justice Akande who hails from Ikorodu division of the state is most favoured. She is the most senior in rank and the Administrative Judge for the Lagos division of the high court.
Justice Alabi who was appointed into the higher bench as a Judge of the high court in October 1986 rose to become the state Chief Judge after he had served the judiciary for18 years as a Judge of the state high court. Before Alabiâ€™s elevation, he had a stint with the law firm of Akinyemi and Akinyemi before he joined the Lagos State Ministry of Justice in 1973, as a pupil state counsel. He was latter promoted as the state Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary, Lagos state ministry of Justice.
During his time as a Judge of the high court, he had both smooth and stormy experiences at the Bench.Â Specifically, while handling the famous trial of the former Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen Ishaya Bamaiyi, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, former CSO to late Gen. Sani Abacha and others,Â Justice Alabi was said to have demanded for bribe by the accused persons in order to convict them.
The bribery allegation prompted the Judicial Council to constitute an inquiry to probe the allegations against him. Eventually the allegations against him were thrown out.Â During his tenure, the state judiciary recorded some developments in the area of practice and also infrastructure.
He nurtured the 2004 Civil Procedure Rules to maturity, which enabled higher percentage of cases in the state to end at the pre-trial conference stage.Â The Court Automated Information System, which involves the computerization of the entire system in the judiciary came up during his administration.
He also introduced the Sheriff Corp to replace the agelong Bailiff system. The Sherif Corps enforced the judgments and orders ofÂ courts. The Fast Track system was also introduced which stipulates a suit should not take more than three years from filling of a court process to the day of judgement.
In spite of all the above listed achievements, he left some issues affecting the interest of the judiciary workers unattended to. Specifically, non judicial workers in the state judiciary were angry with the way by which the leadership of the state judiciary handled their complaint on their improved welfare packages.
For the fact that the state judiciary in conjunction with the state government introduced video recording process whileÂ Â suspect give his statementÂ at the police station, the idea was not actualized throughtÂ out Justice Alabi’s tenure. No police stationÂ ever practiced the system.