Legal luminaries in the country on Tuesday eulogized Justice Ibrahim Auta who left the bench as the Chief Justice of the Federal High Court on September 16 at the age of 65 years.
Just as Justice Auta declared that his inability to complete the 7 storey court building in the Lagos division was his only regret as head of the court.
Speaking at a valedictory session of the court in Abuja yesterday in honour of Justice Auta, the Acting Chief Judge of the Federal High Court,Justice Adamu Kafarati, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami (SAN), Chief Onomigbo Okpoko (SAN) and the President of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN) in separate addresses unanimously acknowledged his contributions to the development of the federal high court and the judiciary.
Justice Kafarati who took over from Justice Auta on September 16 said the court is in debt to his predecessor for positioning the court for growth.
Some of these efforts, he stated include the introduction of electronic cause list, party direction on trial of terrorism cases, rape, human trafficking, kidnapping which were before now alien to Nigeria. He also organised regular training for judges and staff, the Acting chief judge said.
He also put together the Aviation Jurisdiction procedures Rules in the country, Asset Management Corporation procedure Rules and many others.
The Acting Chief Judge described Justice Auta as the great warrior indefatigable and courageous Chief Judge. He also called him loving husband, father ,brother and compassionate brother “willing to accommodate all.”
On his part, the Attorney General of Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami (SAN), said Justice Auta has served our country well and to the best of his ability.
“By dint of your industry, perseverance and positive deployment of intellect ,you deservedly attained an echelon in your career which is richly appreciated by our country today.
“As witness and beneficiaries of your contributions to the development of our judiciary, we have gathered here today to express our appreciation and to wish you well as you move on in the journey of life.
“We have gathered to opening recognize and appreciate your contribution to the development of our country judiciary throughout your years of service”, he added.
He noted that the judicial arm of government is the anchor on which our claim to civilized society rests.”We must all work hard therefore to ensure that it retains the integrity, the credibility and the impartiality that makes its truly the last hope of all men.”
He hope the Federal high court will continue to play crucial role in fostering a higher level of confidence by all citizens in the judiciary through emphasis on the discipline and credibility of judicial personnel and a committed defence of the rule of law.
Justice Auta said that at the valedictory that he had vigorously pursued institutional and infrastructural development of the court during his tenure and that he regretted his inability to complete the 7 storey court building edifice which would have ease the challenges of accommodation facing judges in Lagos.
He told he gathering that the court building project could not be completed due to sharp decline in the financial allocation to the court.
“My only regret therefore is that I was unable to complete the edifice in Lagos which was not really my fault but because we did not get sufficient funds from government to complete the building which is now on the 5th floor.”
The former chief judge however scored himself High in the welfare of judges and the entire workers of the court, adding that
during his tenure, judges were provided with Prado Jeeps each as official vehicle with a Hillux jeep each as back-up car.
Justice Auta further said that the court has the divisions in the 36 states of the federation and Abuja as part concerted efforts of the management under him to take justice to the door step of all.
He said that the success achieved during his tenure were because of the total corporation and support of all judges of the court. “There was never a dissenting voice because I put all my cards on the table with a very open policy judges were carried along before decisions are taken.”
The President of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN), in his address delivered by the secretary of the bar, Mr Isiaka Abiola Olagunju, noted that the exposure of the judiaciary to elements which seeks to tear it apart must be corrected.
“He said the judiciary and the legal profession should remain standing even if other arms of government lies prostrate.”