The Anambra State Judiciary marked the commencement of its 2023/24 Legal Year Ceremonies at the Judiciary Headquarters in Awka on November 10, 2023. The chosen theme, “DELIVERY OF JUSTICE: PUBLIC PERCEPTION AND REALITY,” prompted insightful discussions about addressing negative perceptions surrounding justice delivery.
Speakers at the event acknowledged the existence of unfounded or misconceived negative perceptions about justice delivery. Mazi Afam Osigwe, SAN, who attended the event, emphasized the importance of recognising and addressing such perceptions without dismissing them as inconsequential.
“Addressing Justice Perceptions: Insights from Mazi Afam Osigwe at Anambra Legal Year Ceremony”
Justice Dahiru Musdapher, former Chief Justice of Nigeria, represented by Mr Sunday Olorundahunsi, the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, delivered a keynote address titled “Promoting Magistrate Court Ethics, Integrity, and Improving Citizens’ Access to Justice.” He highlighted the need to restore public confidence in the judicial system.
Acknowledging the societal dissatisfaction with the judicial system’s performance, Justice Musdapher emphasized the importance of transparently addressing prevailing realities. Initiatives such as establishing a Judicial Reform Committee, headed by former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Muhammadu Lawal Uwais, were mentioned to fortify the independence of the judiciary, curb corruption, and insulate judges from political manipulations.
Anambra State Judiciary Explores Justice Delivery Realities and Public Perception
The event underscored the notion that perception often holds more sway than reality. Osigwe invoked an anonymous writer’s sentiment that while reality offers limited manoeuvrability, perception allows room for exaggeration or modification according to need.
The duty to obliterate negative perceptions about justice delivery in Nigeria was emphasized, with the vision of portraying the judicial system as one that dispenses justice without bias or influence. Quoting Lord Hewart in R v. Sussex Justices, ex parte McCarthy, Osigwe stressed the fundamental importance of justice not only being done but also being manifestly and undoubtedly seen to be done.
He paraphrased Amos 5:24, praying for justice to roll down like waters in Nigerian courts and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. Osigwe wished the bar and bench a successful and perception-free 2023–24 legal year.
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