Prioritise commercial cases like election petition, Agba tasks judiciary
Immediate past Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba, has stressed the need to prioritise commercial cases as it is done in election petitions.
According to him, without quick and efficient commercial dispute resolution mechanisms, development will be hampered.
Agba spoke in Asaba, the Delta State capital, on the theme: “Impact of Justice Idigbe on Nigerian Commercial Jurisprudence through his Judgments.”
The event was part of a year-long programme organised by the Punuka Attorneys & Solicitors in honour of the late Supreme Court Justice, Chukwunweike Idigbe, which were held at the weekend.
The late Justice Idigbe founded Punuka Chambers in 1947 before it metamorphosed into Punuka Attorneys & Solicitors.
The centenary events continued on Friday with the inauguration of the “Hon. Justice Chike Idigbe e-Library & Resource Centre” donated to the Asaba Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) by the Punuka Foundation.
On the same day, there was a public lecture in honour of the late Justice Idigbe, organised by the NBA branch. The day ended with a dinner event tagged “An evening with Prof. Poonam Puri”.
Puri, a professor of law at the Osgoode Hall Law School of York University in Toronto, Canada, delivered a lecture at the dinner, chaired by Prince Agba.
The highpoint was the inauguration of the “Hon. Justice Chukwunweike Idigbe Museum and Youth Centre” on Saturday, which was preceded by the Holy Mass at the St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Asaba, and a visit to the Asagba of Asaba’s Palace, where the Idigbe family paid homage to His Royal Majesty, Chike Edozien, who was a contemporary of the late Justice Idigbe.
Agba said: “The theme touches on the very foundational life of our nation and a critical factor in nation-building.
“It is the extent to which we factor economics and commerce in our legal jurisprudence that determines our development.
“The bane of our development is the relegation of economics in our political ideas and commercial jurisprudence in our legal process.
“I wish to draw the attention of this sophisticated audience to the inordinate attention to politics in the nation’s legal jurisprudence instead of commerce or economics.
“I dare say that no matter the investments that we make in infrastructure or other developmental facilities, sustainability is a function of our commercial jurisprudence.
“A legal system that facilitates prompt and timeous resolution of electoral disputes, while neglecting commercial disputes is prone to under-development or socio-economic stagnation.
“Indeed, national development is a function of the judicial organ, which in turn, depends largely on commercial jurisprudence.
“Whether local or foreign, investors are keener on the state of the judicial organ and prevalent jurisprudence, in taking or making critical investment decisions.”
Prince Agba paid tribute to Justice Idigbe, describing him as a quintessential jurist and a fearless advocate of the rule of law, who gave the best of legal interventions in all areas of human endeavour.
“He had the unique opportunity of transversing the legal profession like a colossus and he is remembered not only as a jurist par excellence, but as an advocate for equity, justice and the fair application of the rule of law.
“He was renowned for his landmark judgments, which continue to shape the legal landscape of Nigeria to this day,” he said.
Principal Partner at Punuka Attorneys & Solicitors, Chief Anthony Idigbe (SAN), said the year-long events were designed to honour his father, who would have been 100 years on Saturday.
He said the Museum and Youth Centre would preserve the legacy of Justice Idigbe.
Chief Idigbe said: “I’m humbled by the opportunity to celebrate the centenary of Hon. Justice Idigbe. It’s actually a no-brainer. It’s easy to celebrate a good product. Every day, I realise it’s such a great honour to be his child.
“These events are about him, about the legacy he has left for us. It’s for us to continue to sustain it.”
On the Museum and Youth Centre, the SAN said: “The building is essentially in four parts. One part is a museum intended to preserve the legacies of Justice Idigbe – his experience in life, what he went through as a lesson for the nation and his contribution to jurisprudence and law in Nigeria.
“The second part of the project is the youth centre and the library. We hope to have resources for the youths in this community to have access to the internet and research opportunities and a conducive environment to study.
“Also, there’s sufficient space for seminars and other programmes to empower the youth.
“In this regard, we’re hoping to partner with the government of Delta State, particularly in training programmes. We also have other needs, such as books. It’s a work in progress.
“The third part of the project is a gazebo (garden) where people can relax for shows, just like an amphitheater. We want it to be a creative centre.
“The last part is some accommodation for the curator or someone that will run the place, and other supporting facilities.”
Delta State Governor, Sheriff Obarevwori, represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Kingsley Emu, paid tribute to the late Justice Idigbe and lauded the family for immortalising him.
He said: “I am happy to be part of this deserved honour being accorded to Justice Idigbe by his family and the NBA.
“It is most befitting that having traversed the legal profession and became a Justice of the Supreme Court, the legacy he left behind should be given a life of its own to serve as a source of inspiration and encouragement to members of society, especially members of the NBA and the youths.
“No doubt, a museum in his honour will definitely harbour his works, especially the in depth judgments he gave as a judge in the High Court, and as a Justice of the Supreme Court.
“From 1946 when he became a lawyer, he began to blaze a trail as he set up his chambers in Warri in 1947.
“In spite of the interregnum caused by the civil war, he still rose to become a judge of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
“Months to his anticipated elevation as the Chief Judge of the Supreme Court, nature intervened and he went in a blaze of unblemished glory to meet his creator.”
He promised that the state would partner with the Youth Centre in building human capital.
Prof. Puri, in her lecture, highlighted the important public financing role of the Canada Infrastructure Bank, which she believes Nigeria can learn from.
She also stressed the need for an efficient dispute resolution mechanism to encourage investments, adding that clear and simple rules are needed.
“I believe in regulation, but over-regulation can be harmful to the economy.
“Also, when businesses need licenses, it should be easy to get. It should not take months or years to obtain a permit,” she added.
Speaking on the E-Library and Resource Centre donated to NBA Asaba Branch, Managing Partner at Punuka Attorneys & Solicitors, Mrs. Elizabeth Idigbe, said it would boost legal practice.
She said: “Justice Idigbe stood for excellence and good education. He believed in doing things right.
“The e-Library will encourage lawyers to do things right.The enhanced research will enable them to do their cases powerfully and properly before the courts.
“We’ve had issues about inadequate knowledge. Judges and lawyers complain.
“So, we believe the e-Library and Resource Centre will help address that.
“We also believe it’s another good way to honour a man who represented the very best of the legal profession.”
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