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Supreme Court justice faults criticisms of verdicts in media

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•Colleagues remember ex-UNILAG VC Omotola

Justice Chima Nweze of the Supreme Court yesterday faulted lawyers who criticise judgments in the media.

He said justices were not perfect and could learn from criticisms, but the criticisms should not be done in academic journals.

Justice Nweze, a former lecturer in law, spoke while delivering a lecture to mark the 10th anniversary of the death of ex-University of Lagos (UNILAG) Vice-Chancellor Prof Jelili Omotola (SAN).

The justice, who holds a PhD in Law, paid tribute to Omotola, who, as dean, Faculty of Law, UNILAG, edited the Journal of Private and Property Law.

“Critical examination of judgments should be in respected law journals, not in newspapers and television,” he said.

Justice Nweze said Omotola laid the foundation for scholarship in land law, urging academics to emulate his intellectual industry.

He decried the dearth of learned academic journals, urging universities to do more in that regard.

Constitutional lawyer Prof Itsay Sagay (SAN), who represented Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), described Omotola as “a great scholar, who had no patience for fools and laggards.”

Sagay, chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, recalled that Omotola was an external examiner at the University of Benin (UNIBEN) where he (Sagay) taught law.

He said Omotola was highly respected by lecturers, who feared being faulted by him.

According to Sagay, Omotola’s election as UNILAG VC was based on his performance as dean of law, adding that he laid the foundation for scholarship in land law through his essays on the Land Use Act, among others.

Professor of International Law and Jurisprudence Akin Oyebode recalled that Omotola was Lecturer 1 while he (Oyebode) was Lecturer 11 in their early days at UNILAG.

“He was driving a Volvo and I was driving a Beetle. He worked as if he had a mission,” Oyebode said.

According to him, when Omotola became head of Department of Property Law, he furnished the offices of even junior lecturers with air conditioners and rugs, to the envy of professors in other departments, who did not enjoy such comfort.

Two publications were presented at the event: Prof Omotola Jelili Adebisi (SAN): A Visionary University administration, and Critical Issues in Property Law, edited by ex-Delta State Deputy Governor Prof Amos Utuama (SAN).

At the event were Chief Judge of Enugu State, Justice Innocent Umezuluike; Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Solomon Arase, represented by Lagos State Commissioner of Police Fatai Owoseni; Justice Joseph Oyewole and Justice Habib Abiru, both of the Court of Appeal, as well as Justice Ayisat Opesanwo of the High Court of Lagos State.

Others were Justice Olatunde Oshodi, Justice Olusola Williams; All Progressives Congress (APC) Legal Adviser Dr Muiz Banire (SAN), Prof. Charles Iloegbuna (SAN); Mr Kunle Ogunba (SAN), chairmen of Lagos and Ikeja branches of the Nigeria Bar Association Martin Ogunleye and Yinka Farounbi, among others.

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