LAWYERS4CHANGE

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

SEX AND THE BENCH: POLITICS OF GENDER AND LOBBY IN APPOINTMENT OF NEW JUDGES IN LAGOS STATE


On Tuesday 30th June 2009, the Chief Judge of Lagos State Honourable Justice Augustine Adetula Alabi sent a letter to all the Judges of the High Court of Lagos State. In the said letter, the chief Judge requested for the comments of his brother judges on the suitability or otherwise of “short-listed candidates” for recommendation to the National Judicial Council for elevation to the High Court Bench of Lagos State.
The short-listed candidates number only sixteen out of a rather big assembly of applicants. The short-listed candidates are as follows:
NAME SEX CONSTITUENCY
1. Christopher Ayodeji Balogun M Private practice
2. Olabisi Olasubomi Ogungbesan F Official Bar
3. Lateefat Folami F Magistracy
4. Ibironke Olatunbosun Harrison F Private practice
5. Latifat Atinuke Oluyemi F Official Bar.
6. Oyindamola Adesola Ogala F Magistracy
7. Fatimat Ibironke Kazeem F Private practice
8. Seditan Sosi Ogunsanya F Official Bar
9. Emmanuel Olugbenga Ogundare M Magistracy
10. Olufunke Abiola Loko F Private practice
11. Elizabeth Mopelola Idowu Alakija F Official Bar
12. Iyabo Olamide Akinkugbe F Magistracy
13. Kafeel Omobolaji Dawodu M Private practice
14. Adedayo Adeola Akintoye F Magistracy
15. Funlola Adesola Odunlami F Official Bar
16. Olufunke Oshin F Magistracy
About a day later, the Chief Judge forwarded the same “assessment request” to the leadership of the three branches of the Nigerian Bar Association, to wit Ikorodu, Ikeja and Lagos branches.
Geckos, who are naturalized residents of the corridors of official political powers in Lagos State have informed the Squib however that, the Governor of the State Babatunde Raji Fashola S.A.N, is not happy with-the list of short-listed candidates otherwise called “Alabi List” in some circles.
A reflective examination of the list of short-listed candidates shows the following:
1. The candidates are drawn evenly from three constituencies as follows:- 5 (Private bar), 5 (Official Bar), 6 (Magistracy).

2. The large majority of the candidates are females at the ratio of 13 females to 3 males. The official bar interestingly parades no male at all out of a number of 5 candidates while the magistracy has only 1 male out of 6 candidates. Even in the Private Bar Constituency females also lead at the rate of 3-2

3. The large majority of the candidates are Lagosians.
After receiving credible information and investigating around, the Squib can authoritatively disclose that out of the sixteen candidates presented to judges and the bar for assessment, the Justice Alabi led Lagos State Judicial-Service Commission is actually interested in only eight, for elevation on to the Lagos State Bench.
Thus the sixteen name list actually comprises of two teams: A and B.

Team A is made up of “Approved Candidates” who are the 1st to the 8th candidates to wit:
Christopher Ayodeji Balogun,
Olabisi Olsubomi Ogungbesan,
Lateefat Folami,
Ibironke Harrison,
Latifat Atinuke Oluyemi,
Oyindamola Adesola Ogala,
Fatimat Ibironke Kazeem,
Sedotan Sosi Ogunsanya.
Team B is the list of “Substitute/Probable candidates” who are to wit:
Emmanuel Olugbenga Ogundare,
Elizabeth Mopelola Idowu Alakija,
Iyabo Olamide Akinkugbe,
Kafeel Omobolaji Dawodu,
Adedayo Adeola Akintoye,
Funlola Adesola Odunlami
Olufunke Oshin.
Without a doubt a lot of intense lobbying and politicking otherwise, went into the drawing up of the names on the short-list.
It is doubtful whether for any of those on the list, MERIT was used exclusively to pick. For example the first person on the list, Christopher Ayodeji Balogun (Lagosian) a former vice-chairman of the Lagos branch of the NBA and son of a former Judge of the State A.L.A.L Balogun was picked not only because he has attractive credentials but because of his sheer importunity-the man has been applying for the job for close to a decade now!
On the other hand the last person on Team A, Sedotan Sosi Ogunsanya, said to be a “just there” presence in the ministry of Justice owes her presence on the list, more than any thing to the fact the she is from Badagry, a big area in Lagos State but with no quota on the Lagos State higher Bench.
It is also clear that a candidate such as Oyindamola Adesola Ogala (good as she may be on her own rights) has her load made lighter by the influence of her husband, a lawyer, who is also the chairman of the Lagos State House of Assembly Committee on the Judiciary.
Any one doubting this assertion may have to consider the fact that Ogala ranking only No19 in the order of seniority in the Lagos State Magistracy where she is a Chief Magistrate II, has been ranked on the “Alabi List” far above Mrs. I.O. Akingugbe, a chief Magistrate 1 who is No4 on the seniority list of Lagos State Magistrates and Mr. Emmanuel Olugbenga Ogundare another Chief Magistrate 1, who is no 12 on the seniority list
It is also interesting that Mrs. Adedayo Adeola Akintoye the Lagos State Registrar of Titles makes the list at all, at least this time around. However she is said to be the daughter of a former Judge of Lagos State High Court Justice Adebayo Desalu (died 1993) who also was the son of another judge Justice Adebiyi Desalu. Called to the bar in 1981, Mrs. Akintoye joined the Lagos State Magistracy in 2005, just four years ago and rapidly and even inexplicably rose to the post of Chief Magistrate 2 and Registrar of Titles Lagos State. Said to be a long time resident of the United States of America, nobody seems to know anything about her legal practice history in Nigeria.
If Team A sails through it would mean out of the eight new judges for appointment, C.A. Balogun will be the only male there, in other words, a 12.5% male presence.
Already the Lagos State Bench is distressingly “feminised”. Out of 46 judges in service only 12 are males, just a 26% presence. Consequently if Team A sails through the result is that out of a number of 54 judges only 13 will be males.
The statistics does not confirm with the facts on ground in the legal profession as to the numerical strength, influence and participation of female legal practitioners. In the inner bar, there are only 6 female silks, dead or alive in Nigeria, while the male silks number over 150. In the outer bar, especially in Lagos State the number of leading and active female legal practitioners is in the units while their male counter-parts number in dozens of hundreds.
Keen observers of the Lagos Judiciary are perturbed by the large number of females on the Lagos bench not just because of their disproportionate presence on the bench vis a vis their minority status (gender wise) in the bar, but particularly so because of the poor performance of many of them on the bench.
Of the twelve males judges on the Lagos bench, only one is seen by the bar as an out-right disaster, while about three are adjudged as slightly below average and the rest considered in the range of average to excellent.
The same cannot be said of the 34 female judges on the bench. Only about a third in the estimate of the bar are truly commendable for industry, knowledge, emotional stability and integrity. The remaining two-thirds are remarkable for under-performance of various hues and aroma with at least half of this category seen as serious apologies and caricatures.
The truth of the matter is that the Lagos State Judiciary Service Commission, should for once in about a decade-select for the people of Lagos State, legal practitioners who will truly elevate the Lagos Bench to a matchless realm in the country in terms of sterling judicial performance.
This magazine cannot believe that only three men of all the lawyers who applied to become Judges, are good enough to make the shortlist, and that even worse, of the three, that only one of them has a good chance of being appointed.
The name of the state’s Judiciary is, we believe LAGOS STATE JUDICIARY and not LAGOS STATE WOMEN JUDICIARY.
Although the honourable Chief Judge of Lagos State and the Lagos State Judicial Service Commission did not and will never think of asking this magazine for any assessment of the short-listed candidates, the Squib as part of its social obligations and as a stake-holder in the Lagos State Judiciary sticks out its neck for the following candidates in the short-list as legal practitioners who in terms of character, comportment, industry, legal knowledge, integrity and independent-mindedness will do very well in the bench if appointed.
1. Mr. Christopher Ayodeji Balogun
2. Mr. Emmanuel Olugbenga Ogundare
3. Mrs. Lateefat Folami
4. Mrs. Olufunke Oshin
5. Mrs. Oyindamola Adesola Ogala
6. Mrs. Latifat Atinuke Oluyemi
7. Mrs. Ibironke Harrison.
Only the very best is good for Lagos State Bench where Judges are so handsomely paid and taken care of, almost royally.
Eko oni baje o!

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