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Lagos judges sacrifice vacation to clear backlog of cases

Judges of Lagos State Judiciary will only observe half of this year’s vacation, according to the Chief Judge, Justice Kareem Alogba. This is to enable the judges to clear backlog of cases pending due to the #endsars protest of last year and the recent strike embarked upon by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN).

Justice Alogba disclosed this on Friday at the valedictory session in honour of Justice Samuel Babajide Candide-Johnson who proceeded on retirement having attained the mandatory age of 65.

By Procedural rules of the High Court, the long vacation of judges of Lagos Judiciary lasts about eight weeks and is usually fixed for between July and September each year.
Justice Alogba argued that even during the pandemic most magistrates courts in the state were sitting while judges were delivering judgements virtually.

He also noted that during the #EndSARS protest quite a number of the judges watch their properties being burnt by protesters at Lagos High Court, Igbosere.

“The trauma is still there with us. You can’t imagine how it would affect the psyche. Our Judges were under a lot of trauma. We would not take full vacation. But we would go for four weeks. The reason for going on vacation is not from arrogant position but from informed position. We would go on a brief vacation and come back refreshed to take on the task ahead”, he said, noting that it was only on Thursday that Lagos state government handed over the new Osbourne Road, Ikoyi Court House to the state judiciary”.

Earlier, a senior lawyer, Chief Bolaji Ayorinde SAN had in a letter to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Ibrahim Tanko Mohammad and the National Judicial Council (NJC) suggested a cancellation of long vacation for judges nationwide to enable courts clear the backlog of cases in their dockets which piled up over time.

Ayorinde stated that the suspension is necessary in the interest of those who are languishing in detention and awaiting trial.

He also stated that many cases have suffered inordinate delay due to ENDSARS protests, Covid-19 pandemic and the recently suspended strike embarked upon by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN).

The retiree, Justice Candide-Johnson, in his appreciation said he was satisfied and fulfilled as he goes into retirement.

He said: “for some, the fear of NJC was the beginning of wisdom. For me, it is not once you have served faithfully and dispense justice without fear or favour. “

He thanked the judiciary for the opportunity to serve on the bench and his colleagues for their support.

Justice Candide-Johnson was born on June 27, 1956 in to the family of late Justice Candide Ademola Johnson, the third Chief Judge of Lagos State. He had his primary education at Maryhill Convent School, Ibadan, Oyo State. He then proceeded to Kings College, Lagos from 1968 to 1972, and later obtained the Higher School Certificate at Government College, Ibadan in 1974.

He gained admission to study law at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), Ile-Ife, between 1974 and 1979. He was called to the Nigerian bar in 1980. He is a member of the Black Table, the alumni body of Rotimi Williams’ Chambers. He was appointed a judge of Lagos High Court in 2001.

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