Promotion of rule of law will engender peace, prosperity, says Solanke
Legal icon and first female Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Folake Solanke has hinged sustainability of peace, security and prosperity in Nigeria on the promotion of rule of law.
Solanke, who spoke at the 2021 dinner dance of the International Chambers of Commerce Nigeria (ICCN), in Lagos, as the keynote speaker, said once rule of law prevails, peace and security would be achieved automatically.
Expressing displeasure with the rate of public distrust about rule of law, she noted that corruption had taken over the judicial system.
Solanke said it was personally and professionally agonising for her to admit that the rule of law has been under violent and multiple assaults in Nigeria for quite a while.
According to her, the result was that people who should be beneficiaries of the rule of law are now extremely cynical and suspicious of the entire administration of justice.
She said: “The situation has now reached the lowest point when accusing fingers are being pointed at judges and lawyers alike for corruption, not only in private, but in public, in bukateria, pepper soup joints, in the media and in the open court.”
The learned silk lamented the decay in the judicial system, leading to loss of trust in the judiciary. Chief Solanke called for urgent re-visitation and revitalisation of the judicial system to redeem the justice sector.
She said: “Now, we have reached ground zero in the opinion of the populace. Urgent and drastic action is required to redeem the administration and justice from its present state of distrust and disenchantment.
“Regrettably, in Nigeria, there are blatant infractions by the government and the people of the rule of law. Government disobeys court orders and judgments.
“The tragedy of the disobedience by government officials is that they forget that they are placed in their lofty positions through the operation of the law.”
“The citizens also disobey the law e.g traffic lights and one-way notices, which are for their fellow citizens and themselves.”
She noted that the lack of confidence and breakdown of law and order manifested in 2020 by the daylight incarceration of Igbosere High Court buildings and other buildings in the country. She stated that legal training and education, with emphasis on continuing legal education needs to be reviewed.
“Appointment of judges must be on merit, scholarship and integrity, not based only on the number of years at the Bar as specified in the constitution.
“No extraneous consideration should be involved such as ethnicity, family or official relationship or interference by the executive.
“Judges should be trained. Erring judges and lawyers proved to be corrupt should be dismissed and disbarred respectively, prosecuted and sentenced,” she suggested.
She further urged ICCN, as an organisation responsible for the promotion of international trade, to dialogue with the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele over the devaluation of Naira and the influx of Chinese goods among other things.
On his part, Chairman of ICCN, Mr. Babatunde Savage, called for sustenance of rule of law, which he said, is required for peace and security in any sane society.
He reiterated ICCN’s commitment to promote free and fair international trade and investment in an open market economy as well as promotion of good relationships between developing and the developed countries to maximise the differences in approach to business and trade.