A Lagos State based Lawyer, Caleb Ekene Ibada Onwe, Esq., has petitioned the Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Opeyemi Oke over the lack of communication between the court and litigants, as well as the need to complete some projects of positive impact, such as the Ajah High Court Complex.
In the petition titled, ”THE URGENT NEED TO NIB AVOIDABLE INCONVENIENCES TO LITIGANTS AND LAWYERS IN THE LAGOS JUDICIAL SERVICE DELIVERY IN THE BUD AND OTHER SUNDRY ISSUES,” dated the 21st day of November, 2018, and made available to TheNigerialawyer (TNL), Caleb Ekene Ibada Onwe, Esq., had prayed Her Lordship to issue a directive to all courts to henceforth take advantage of the technological innovations at their disposal for an improved service delivery to litigants, lawyers and other stakeholders in the Lagos judiciary.
November 21, 2018.
The Honourable Chief Judge
Lagos State Judiciary
Hon. Justice Opeyemi O. Oke
Lagos State Judiciary Complex Ikeja
THE URGENT NEED TO NIB AVOIDABLE INCONVENIENCES TO LITIGANTS AND LAWYERS IN THE LAGOS JUDICIAL SERVICE DELIVERY IN THE BUD AND OTHER SUNDRY ISSUES.
The above subject matter refers,
I am a Lagos based lawyer of the address herein contained, the principal of PENLIT AND GREYSON SOLICITORS and my name is Caleb Ekene Ibada Onwe.
It has become extremely apposite to draw the attention of My Lord to some issues which over the years has impeded judicial service delivery in the Lagos State judicial system and which has not been helpful in fastening the erosion of the hope of litigants and the general public in the state judicial system.
My Lord, it is a common knowledge among legal practitioners in Nigeria that Lagos State High Court is the second busiest high court in Africa, after South Africa and this comes with its attendant congestion of the court that makes cases last for years before their final determination and conclusion. This accounts for the reforms which successive administrations in the judiciary (the present one included) has towed to ensure that cases before the court are timeously dispensed with and concluded. This is evidenced with the result achieved by the present administration in the 2017/2018 legal years.
This reforms and innovation in justice delivery by My Lord and other past Chief Judges of the state judiciary has been maniacly impeded by the neglect to do one of the simplest things to aid all the stakeholders and the administrators of the state judiciary in service delivery.
One among those things is the failure of the courts to use innovation of technology in their service delivery. This is so because, I have had instances where I had matters in court, I prepared early in the morning and proceeded to court as early as 8am, only to be informed by the Registrar of the court around pass 9am or 10, that the court will not be sitting for the day. To say that this is an inconvenience to litigants and lawyers that can be wholly avoided is to say the least.
To even recollect that some time last year, a circular and memo was passed to staff of the court and to lawyers, mandating lawyers to always add their email addresses and phone numbers in all the processes to be filed in the court, and on the other hand, mandated the staff not to accept any processes for filing which does not contain the above mentioned details of the legal practitioner who wishes to file them in the court, is more worrisome as to the mischief and/or motive of such directive if not to ease service delivery in the judiciary.
My Lord, the crux of this petition, is that these inconveniences can be avoided on the days that the court is aware that some courts will not sit in a particular day by exploiting the advancement of technological innovation at our disposal to get this information to litigants and lawyers either by bulk short messages services (sms) or bulk email broadcast with the details already supplied by the lawyers in their filed processes within 24 hours to the day the court will not sit.
It is my strong and well considered view that the application of this communication procedure between the court, litigants and lawyers will greatly improve the relationship of the stakeholders in the judiciary as well as save them also from the avoidable eventualities, wastage of man hour and resources, etc, that has been the bane of its neglect.
My Lord, the second issue which I wish to just put a succinct comment on, is the state of the new Ajah High Court Complex that now seems abandoned. While I cannot prompt the state government and the administrators of the judiciary of the projects it should place premium priority on, I seldom has the right to comment on the need to complete some of the projects that are central to impacting positively on the lives of the stakeholders in the system.
The obvious congestion of the Lagos Courts makes it imperative to complete the new court complex at Ajah which is almost about 90% completion. It will not only help in the decongestion of the courts that is already filled to the bream, increase the manpower of the judiciary through creation of direct and indirect jobs but will also reduce the high volume of traffic that ply the road every day to different courts either as lawyers, litigants and staff.
I am therefore appealing to My Lord, to make this is a point of priority in the next fiscal year by including it in the year’s budget and more so, seek the approval of the governor to achieve many of the result that its completion will bring about and as well ameliorate the decay of the infrastructure that has already been invested in the project.
My Lord, above are just few examples of the avoidable inconveniences and difficulties that lawyers and litigants are faced with in service delivery in the state judiciary and I, respectfully submit that there are wholly avoidable.
I urge My Lord to as a matter of urgency look into these difficulties especially the first issue as it ridicules and reduces the personage of lawyers before their clients when there is a surprise of this nature and a lawyer seems hapless in a temple where he is seen as a minister. To some, it is a humiliation in the presence of clients that a lawyer cannot authoritatively inform his/her clients on the days that the courts can and cannot sit.
I therefore, humbly pray My Lord to issue a directive to all courts in this regard to henceforth take advantage of the technological innovations at our disposal for an improved service delivery to litigants, lawyers and other stakeholders in the Lagos judiciary.
May my Noble Lord be pleased.
Caleb Ekene Ibada Onwe, Esq.
Attorney General of Lagos State
Lagos State Ministry of Justice,
Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria.
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