In continuation of the media interaction with the President of the NICN, Honourable Justice Adejumo, His Lordship whose retirement is 1st October 2019 spoke to DNL Legal & Style on the various transitions, brilliant transformations and innovations at the NIC and his plans after retirement.
DNL L&S: Is my lord an advocate of streamlining being an advocate and solicitor in Nigeria?
Justice Adejumo: It is a difficult thing as it is not our practice. In other jurisdiction, a solicitor will not tell you he is an advocate, all he does, is to interview and review your case. But here in Nigeria, if we are to split it, we need to look at the purchasing power of the citizenry. Who will go to a solicitor first for advice before being directed to an advocate?
I am not soliciting for the split but rather at the law school, there’s need to emphasize the duties of a solicitor, what are the conflicts and where did they meet. Everything boils down to curriculum and curriculum both at the law school and the university needs to be reviewed as we are not ripe for the splitting.
We complain that junior lawyers are not well paid yes, but instead of streamlining it's better to improve. The 1st Five years of every lawyer is struggle, one must not blame the lawyers entirely because once the system is faulty, you must sort it out from the root first.
DNL L&S: How does my Lord relax?
Justice Adejumo: I don’t think I do. I resume office around 8 am and close around 9 pm to 10 pm. I sleep around 1 am and wake up at 5 am routinely. I have not had a siesta for over 20years I have been in the judiciary. Relaxation is a thing of the mind, at times I drive alone, put on my face cap and nobody recognizes me. I am a member of the Ikoyi Club but I can’t remember the last time I attended the meeting though I pay all my dues. I relax more when I am in Akure especially with my old school mates and go round my garden. One must not fraternize too much as this job is a delicate one. I like music a lot and listen to good old music like Haruna Ishola’s.
DNL L&S: What is that thing my lord wishes to be remembered for as the president NICN?
Justice Adejumo: I will like to be remembered for a singular fact that, this court is a court every Nigerian believes that when he gets there, justice will not only be done but will be seen to have been done without fear or favour and in accordance with the constitution and justice, fairness and equity is followed.
DNL L&S: My Lords birthday is October 1st, if my lord is to make a wish, what will that wish be?
Justice Adejumo: My wish is for Nigeria to be a better place for all of us to live and thrive in harmony, egalitarian, peaceful society where everybody will be proud of being called a Nigerian.
DNL L&S: My Lord another milestone achieved by the NICN is the deployment of Technology in its administration of justice, what drives my lord in this regard?
Justice Adejumo: What motivates us is that at this jet age if you are not moving with the train you will be left behind. The world is not a global village but a global room, it is a small room you can get things done in any part of the world and we at the NICN can’t afford to be left behind in the scheme of things. In recent times lawyers and litigant complain of coming to court and being informed that the court won’t be sitting, can we continue like that? The question is what will be the public perception? And lots more and there are lots of things we can correct using the electronic scheme system. During my 1st to 3 years as the president, I traveled wide to see how courts are being managed and had to go electronically and informed the judges on the need for E-Judiciary.
Today, via our Mobile Apps, you can sit at the comfort of your offices or anywhere in the world to know when your matters are coming up, the NICN rules is on the App and can also read your judgments/ruling on the app free of charge. We will continue to embrace E- Judiciary to ease judicial processes. In the NICN, every judge has an E-Library and can access any judgments anywhere in the world because we are determined to make a difference by making a dead end a living end.
We have developed applications that allow electronic notification of hearing notices to be sent to counsel in addition to bailiff services. It also allows me to see the activities in any of my courtrooms from here, so if you don’t sit, I would know and ask questions. We are trying and moving as we are yet to get to our desired destination.
DNL L&S: May I say my Lord is looking into the future already?
Justice Adejumo: In the beginning, I said that people look at personality and not the institution. When you look at an institution, you would realize it didn’t start with you and even if it did, it won’t end with you as generations yet unborn will come after you. We are building the foundation and looking towards an avenue where a case will be dispensed with within 4 to 6 months. When you said it seems am looking into the future, any good leader must not limit himself to his tenure alone as there are many things that can not be achieved in your tenure alone but one must lay the foundation for others coming to thrive.
For instance, in some jurisdiction, people are asking why we are building more than a courtroom and I replied that in the next 10 to 15 years when the bulk of cases starts to trickle in and there’s no fund to build new court won't this already built court serves the purpose. When I came I know what I met and I know by the time am retiring we would have made our mark. One must be futuristic if the country needs to develop, it must not be shortsighted. We must do things to build the institution.
To be continue…