Idigbe endorses call for creation of ecclesiastical courts
Senior partner, Punuka Attorneys, Chief Anthony Idigbe (SAN), has endorsed the call by the Christian Lawyers’ Fellowship of Nigeria (CLASFON) for the creation of Ecclesiastical Court.
The senior lawyer said there is nothing wrong with the call. “I don’t see what is wrong with that. It is important to narrow down the issues. First, is there anything conceptually wrong with the idea? If there is nothing wrong with it, I don’t see why we can’t have Ecclesiastical Courts. The next issue is, what are the challenges? Like every other challenge, it can be surmounted. All that is required is more training to equip lawyers that will practice in that area,” he stated.
He expressed the view shortly after being conferred with the exalted rank of Knights of St. Sylvester by Pope Francis in Lagos at the weekend. He was honoured alongside Mr. Toyin Pinheiro (SAN).
Idigbe said the award was quite significant to him because he didn’t ask for it.
“I don’t know how the process works. All I know is that the Pope bestowed the award on me. You don’t apply for it. However, I appreciate it a lot. I believe there is something I was doing in the church, which was appreciated and I was considered worthy to be so honoured by the Pope.
“There are very few awards in the world that you don’t have to apply for. This is one of them,” Idigbe said while talking about the significance of Papal Knighthood.
The senior advocate, who was already a Knight of St. Mulumba said the Knighthood of St. Sylvester is quite different.
He said: “Knight of Saint Mulumba is completely voluntary. You apply for it. But for that of St. Sylvester, it is an award, which you don’t apply for. You earn it according to the perception of the Pope.”
Papal Knighthood, he said, is about the highest honour for anyone. “What I have done in the church up to this time was never because I was expecting any award. I wasn’t looking forward to this. It wasn’t a motivation. So for me, I am a Senior Advocate of Nigeria. While some consider the SAN award as a retirement position, I have been SAN for over 21 years and I am still in active practice, going to court, advising clients and so on,” he stated.
On whether he may consider running for political office, the senior lawyer said he is not enthusiastic about such, adding that at over 60, he is no longer young for any political office.
He said: “However, I actually think there should be leadership in everything you do. I deprecate political office, but one can lead in so many other ways without taking up political office. It depends on the profession, and I chose the legal profession to serve and to lead. It is part of the reason I took the Harvard Certificate Course in Leadership. I also like that my knowledge touches the Church.”
The solemn ceremony, which held at the Holy Cross Cathedral was presided over by the Archbishop of Lagos Archdiocese, His Lordship, Most Rev. Dr. Adewale Martins with other bishops in attendance.
The event saw the consecration of two Monsignors and the award of Papal Medal of Honour on four deserving faithfuls, including another lawyer, Chief Mrs. Sena Anthony.