educational system

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri

Aware that disputes may arise from outcomes of the 2023 general elections, President Muhammadu Buhari, on Thursday, urged the Judiciary to maintain the position of an honest arbiter.

President Buhari, who spoke at the official commissioning of the Body of Benchers Complex in Abuja, said he was not unmindful of the vital role the legal profession play in the electioneering process.

He said: “A society where justice thrives is one that can be assured of development.

“For Nigeria to effectively embrace sustainable development, institutions such as the legal profession must remain deeply committed towards promoting good governance.

“As the 2023 general elections draw near, the significance of the legal profession becomes even more pronounced considering the vital roles you play in the electioneering process, both at the pre and post-election stages.

“I hope you maintain the position of an honest arbiter”.

While commending the Body of Benchers, BOB, for the successful completion of the complex which he noted will boost infrastructural development of the legal profession, President Buhari, said his administration would continue to pay strict adherence to the rule of law.

“As I have always maintained, adherence to the rule of law is critical to the progress of any society and this administration has not reneged in its commitment to this ideal.

“Efforts by a Body as this, with over five decades of proven track record, to keep the wheel of justice turning effectively in providing a solid foundation for upholding the rule of law are commendable.

“I recall that on the 28th July, 2022 when I played host to the leadership of the Body of Benchers, its Chairman, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, was very emphatic in making a case for the welfare of judicial officers in the country. 

“I am not unaware of the passion and commitment of Chief Olanipekun in championing the cause of the welfare of judicial officers in Nigeria, as well as the commitment of the Body on this matter.

“May I restate my commitment towards this ideal. In similar vein, I have been intimated of the engagement of Consultants by the Body, through its Judiciary Advisory Committee, to amongst other things, come up with a peer review of the conditions of service of Judicial Officers in Nigeria with other countries and jurisdictions, within and outside Africa.

“I earnestly look forward to the completion of this peer review and the submission of recommendations, as this will assist us to review of the welfare packages”, President Buhari added.

While the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, noted that the BOB complex will ease stress involved in organising call to bar ceremonies for new lawyers, the Attorneys-General of  the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, said the legal body must re-awake itself to the reality of sustaining high moral and ethical standard in the legal profession.

“We cannot afford to lower the bar, if we must sustain public confidence”, Malami stated.

In his remarks, Chairman of the BOB, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, said the occasion was an opportunity for the legal body to reiterate its call for a more virile and independent Judiciary.

“The Body of Benchers has formally engaged the services of a leading consulting firm to undertake a peer review of the conditions of service of our Judicial Officers against what obtain in some other jurisdictions globally.

“When their report and recommendations are submitted, we will make same available to Mr. President and other stakeholders; with a plea that the anticipated recommendations should, among other compelling factors, be used for a more enduring package for Judicial Officers across the country”, Olanipekun stated.

He disclosed that the Benchers Complex that was commissioned by President Buhari, consists of a 3,000-sitting capacity auditorium, a 240-sitting capacity meeting room, a 1,000-sitting capacity banquet hall, a 1,000-sitting capacity multipurpose hall, committee meeting room, offices for secretariat staff, library, and a courtroom for the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee, amongst others.

Among dignitaries at the commissioning included the governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike who is a Life Bencher.

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