Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State, on Monday, appealed to judicial officers in the state to embrace Alternative Dispute Resolution in the administration of justice system.
Ayade made the appeal during the thanksgiving service to mark the beginning of a new legal year for the state judicial officers.
The event which held at the Hope Waddel Training Institute, Calabar, had in attendance, Deputy Governor, Prof Ivara Esu, the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Akon Bassey Ikpeme, Speaker of the House of Assembly, Eteng Jones Williams amongst others.
The governor noted that the adoption of alternative dispute resolution in the justice system delivery does not only bring about speedy resolution of issues but is also cost effective.
“As different people come before you for litigations, it is your duty to know that your first option is alternative conflict resolution. The number of litigations is becoming too much. Even when clients have no case, it is lawyers that always urge them on. Divine wisdom allows you to be very ecclisiastic as you advise your innocent clients,” Ayade entreated.
Judicial officers, according to the governor, require divine wisdom at all times, without which, “for me, you have no business being on the bench because the codification of laws denies you the luxury of application of jurisprudence and moral conscience. The codification of laws does not allow you to ask yourself what is fair because you have to seek a section of the relevant laws to defend your decisions. But the reality is that even in our own constitution, there are provisions for the application of jurisprudence.”
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Recalling the painful loss of Cross River’s 76 oil wells, Ayade insisted that judges should go beyond the mere application of laws within a theoretical context by considering sociological application which seeks to reveal the historical, moral, and cultural basis of a particular legal principle.
“Who told you that the decision to strip a state that had only 76 oil wells and give the same oil wells to a state that already had thousands of oil wells was okay? Who told you that there is any provisions in the law that can defend that?
“Jurisprudence will insist that you can take rightfully from a man who has 100 yams, even though the yams rightfully belong to him, and give to his brother who has none. It is allowed in law.
“So divine wisdom comes to play because intellectual wisdom is not enough, common sense is not enough. So for us lawyers, you must have conscience, you must have morality.”
He expressed support for judicial autonomy, a reason, he explained was behind his signing of the bill granting autonomy to judiciary in the state into law.
The governor said judicial autonomy was necessary for effective dispensation of justice.