Adjournment: Catholic Lawyers Urged To Change Narrative

Adjournment: Catholic Lawyers Urged To Change Narrative

Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Lagos, Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins, has tasked Catholic lawyers on addressing the issue of frequent adjournment of court cases. The Bishop stated this at a church thanksgiving service by the National Association of Catholic Lawyers, Lagos Archdiocese, which took place at the Holy Cross Cathedral, Lagos, to mark the 2021 new legal year.

“The Lord charges you to be lawyers but He expects you to be Catholics in every way possible. You are the light of God in your profession. The Lord urges you to stand out in your career in honesty and integrity, even in difficult situations. The virtue you practice will lead you in this legal year,” Martins said.

He told them that integrity was built on trials, and as such frequent adjournments make the man in the street doubt whether he can get justice in court. He charged them to “change the narrative”.

“God expects that you do not add to problems people have, in the pursuit of your career. Wealth acquired through injustice is not acceptable by God, even when you use it for charity.”

He prayed that they would continue to uphold the rights of the masses.

The essence of the mass was to give thanks to Almighty God for His mercy and all the favours received during the outgone legal year and also to commit the new legal year to His able hands. The chairperson of the new legal year mass and annual general meeting 2021 planning committee, Ngozi Ogbolu, stated that the new legal year mass was an opportunity for Catholic lawyers to come together as a body, with their families and friends, to celebrate the Eucharistic sacrifice, and ask God for direction and guidance in their work, as always.

Ogbolu said that as advocates for justice, this year’s celebration would be almost similar to that of last year because the COVID-19 pandemic, which has besieged the whole world, is still very much around and recently graduated to deadlier variants. Ogbolu said: “COVID-19 is real and has transformed the lives of all men and women. It has created a new way of life for all of us. The workplace has changed and so employment law will grow to include more cases such as workplace disputes over working from home capabilities, safe working environment and employers’ duty care. There will also be new definitions on flexible working and how employers judge acceptable practices.”

According to Ogbolu, other areas of law that may see legal technology with a new need to have digital solutions include litigation with many companies in dispute with customers over cancellations and delays, insolvency with the inevitable economic drop, mental health law and family practices.

“In a post-pandemic world, we will rely heavily on technology, which is where the next generation of legal professionals will excel. Lawyers will now need to demonstrate that they can work with a multiple software and hardware with flexibility and show their digital expertise from the application process onwards in order to contribute to a wider use of existing technology”.

She also envisaged  how COVID-19 would affect younger people in the law profession. “Prior to lockdown, young lawyers and new wigs could easily adapt to the workplace immediately they d from law school, but now it has become a bit difficult. They have to go beyond limitations and maximise effectiveness even during this pandemic. They will also face new culture that can affect radical and positive change in the profession. Social distancing and remote working have created a new dynamic in the workplace. The dividing line between our personal and work lives has become blurred. The COVID 19, #EndSARS protest of 2020, particularly in Lagos, and the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) national strike have no doubt affected our profession adversely, as our courts are yet to recover fully from the crises that have staggered court operations.”

Ogbolu advised the Catholic lawyers and, indeed, every other lawyer on the need to be proactive to adapt and excel in business in order to have resources, to address to a large extent, all that are required of  them in the present-day society as the voice of the voiceless and the less privileged.

In his opening address, the President of NACL, Lagos Archdiocese, Philip Njeteneh, blamed COVID-19 for slowing down ways of life. He regretted that COVID-19 took the centre stage and dictated ways of life thereby slowing down the association, which led to cancellation of most of  their activities and practically destabilised almost all their plans such as visit to the correctional centre with the Bishop Archbishop of Lagos, their quarterly general meeting, among others.

However, Njeteneh said they were able to host their Catholic Lawyers Day with Archbishop of Lagos. He said: “This year’s event was even most successful of all with the caliber of speakers, and the fact that it was hybrid with a few of our members being with the Archbishop in the Chancery conference room, while others joined in from far and near. That event with the theme, informed our choice of theme for this year’s event, which was “Harnessing diversity in ideologies of nation building,” which had Fbian Ajogwu (SAN), Pat Utomi, Rev Fr Patrick Amuluku from Diocese of Abuja, and Iyinoluwa Aboyeji of Fluterwave, who addressed participants from far and near on the several aspects that Nigeria can work based on our diverse ideologies, among others.”


Culled from The Sun

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