Insurance experts have faulted the action of a magistrate, Funke Sule-Hamzat, who allegedly instigated the remand of a mother of three, Mrs Yetunde Osijo, in Kirikiri Prisons, after their cars were involved in a minor traffic crash.
Managing Director of Quicklink Insurance Brokers, Mr. Rotimi Edu, said that it is wrong and high-handedness on the part of the magistrate to jail somebody who hit her car. According to him, the magistrate should be conscious of the fact that the accident did not kill anybody.
He said: “What the magistrate should have done is to find out if the other person has insurance, then the case should have been reported to the insurance company.
She should be reported to the Judicial Commission and they should call her to order.”
Also, Mr. Tope Adaramola, Assistant Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers, added that it was not proper for the magistrate to arbitrarily drag the issue to court in the first instance, irrespective of her status in society.
Adaramola stated that such action is illegal because the law mandates every vehicle owner to have a valid insurance policy and where there is an insurance contract in place, the action of the magistrate is tantamount to over-use of power.
He said: “Where there is no insurance contract in place, the magistrate might be justified to drag the other party to court; but the human interest should be considered here.
“Also, the liability of the accident should have been passed to the insurance company because the insurance company is liable to compensate the victim in this instance.”
Insurance is a means whereby a person pays some sum of money, called premium, in order to indemnify self or property against loss of a belonging worth much more than the premium.
In Nigeria, motor insurance is available with two different levels of cover: comprehensive and third party.
Motor insurance is designed to protect car owners against various risks associated with vehicle ownership. It cover is mandatory for all driving on Nigerian roads and vehicle owners can obtain their insurance covers directly from an insurance company or through an insurance broker.
However, in the case of an accident involving two cars, the person who is at fault should contact his insurance company to pay compensation to the other victim if he has just third party insurance for his car. But where he has comprehensive insurance, both car owners would be compensated.
If the insurance is got through a broker, the insured must contact the broker and inform him of the accident.
If the insured got the insurance directly from an insurance company, the company must be contacted. It is only then that the insurance company can commence payment of claims to the insured or third party as the case may be.
Magistrate Sule-Amzat’s story
Meanwhile, Lagos State Judiciary has denied the allegation that a Lagos State Magistrate, Mrs Funke Sule-Amzat, allegedly ordered the remand of one Yetunde Osijo in Kirikiri Prisons custody, for allegedly hitting her car.
It was alleged that the magistrate ordered that Yetunde Osijo be arrested and arraigned before her at the Ogudu Chief Magistrate’s Court, Lagos, where she promptly ordered that Yetunde be detained in Kirikiri Prisons without a legal representation.
Reacting to the report, Lagos State Chief Registrar said that the magistrate’s version of the story had it that the incident occurred on Monday, March 21, around 9a.m. on her way to work, close to Abiola Gardens, Ojota area of the state, when a car brushed her car from behind.
He said the magistrate’s driver alighted from the car and Yetunde Osijo, who drove the car that brushed the magistrate’s, rained abuses on the driver and his master.
The magistrate, while stating the account of what happened, said that she stepped out of the car to see the extent of the damage done to her car, only for Osijo to speed off in a dangerous manner.
She was eventually arrested by men of the Rapid Response Squad at Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, and taken to Area H, Police Command, Ogba.
According to the magistrate, the Area Commander made an attempt to resolve the matter, but Yetunde Osijo insisted on calling her husband, who came in and became very boastful.
‘I dined with Governor last week’
The Registrar said, according to the magistrate, Dipo Osijo and his wife Yetunde Osijo, uttered words like: “She is the daughter of the former Clerk of the House of Assembly,” “We own Lagos State,” “Tunde Disu gave me fuel yesterday for my car,” “I dined with the governor last week,” “A common magistrate cannot hold us to ransom,” “We will report to the Chief Judge and she will be punished for this,” “My father will see to it,” and many more.
At that juncture, the magistrate said the law should take its course and left for her court.
The Registrar said: “The true position is that the magistrate, upon the occurrence of the incident, lodged a report with the Police, who effected an arrest and, upon investigation, arraigned the suspect before the Chief Magistrate Court, Ogba, presided over by Mr. T. A. Elias.
“She was immediately admitted to bail on liberal terms and the matter was adjourned for mention.
“The suspect was never arraigned before the complainant, Mrs. Funke Sule-Amzat, and she made no order or take any step in respect of the matter. The matter is presently pending before the court for determination.”