Gov. Bassey Otu
The state governor, Senator Bassey Otu who gave the charge on Monday at the official opening of the 2023/2024 Legal Year held at St. Bernard Catholic Church, Marian Hill, Calabar to mark the commencement of legal activities in the state, said the legal year affords the judiciary the opportunity to reflect on the state of access to justice in our society.
The judiciary in Cross River state has been charged to work for an efficient, fair, inclusive and responsive legal system to all individuals regardless of their social status.
Represented by his deputy, Rt. Hon. Peter Odey, the governor emphasized that the judiciary must always strive to ensure that justice is not only available to those who can afford it, but to all members of the society.
He said, “the judiciary must work for a legal system that is not only efficient and fair, but also inclusive and responsive to all individuals regardless of their social or economic background”.
Deputy Gov Rt Hon Peter Odey (centre front row), on his right, the State Chief Judge, Justice Akon B. Ikpeme and other judges.
As they embark on this legal year, Otu said the judiciary should be guided by “the principles of integrity, professionalism and compassion while also embracing peace and inclusion”.
He assured the judiciary of his administration’s commitment to put an end to the many challenges within the sector in the state and promised to collaborate and equip the judges with all that is necessary to ensure that they discharge their duties responsibly.
Legal year according to him, is a time for legal practitioners to recommit and dedicate themselves to the ideals of the profession, hence he charged them to embrace technology as the collaboration between the legal profession and technological advancement has the potential to revolutionize how the dispensation of justice is approached.
Otu, however called on them to be vigilant in the face of these challenges which technological advancement brings because the boundary between the physical and virtual are blurred
Earlier, the Chief Judge of Cross River State, Hon. Justice Akon B. Ikpeme, said it was traditional for her and the Judiciary to begin the legal year in God’s presence.
While thanking the Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Charles Etim, Esq for the homily, she prayed that God will see to their lives, guide and remind them that one day, they too will stand before the greatest Judge of all.
She encouraged the judicial officers to go back to the drawing board as the legal year begins and do what they can do with their conscience in place.