jettison wigs and gowns

The four branches of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Lagos have set a 17-point agenda for the state judiciary, stating the challenges confronting the justice system and proffering solutions.

Speaking at the Bar and Bench Forum as part of activities to mark the new legal year, NBA Ikeja branch chairman Mr. Yinka Farounbi, said a discussion of the challenges is fuelled by the desire to get things right.

Mr Farounbi, who spoke on behalf of Badagry, Ikorodu, Lagos and Ikeja branches, listed the issues lawyers face to include lack of notification when courts would not sit, delay in delivering judgments, difficulty in obtaining copies of judgments, stringent bail conditions which defeat the purpose of bail and late sitting of courts.

On the appointment of judges, he said: “Information to the Bar comes very late, leaving the Bar with no time to scrutinise the list.” According to him, the Bar should be notified on time.

“The Bar proposes that the Lagos judiciary website be upgraded to include a link that will host judgments of the various High Courts as well as seminar papers and notable speeches,” he added.

The association further requested for a periodical review of High Court Rules, the commissioning of the Badagry High Court and the relocation of the Ojo Magistrates’Court from Apapa to Ojo because of the chaotic traffic situation in the area.

The NBA canvassed continuous training and legal education for judicial officers as well as courteous treatment of NBA members by judges and magistrates, while bemoaning the dilapidated state of some courtrooms.

“More Judicial Divisions are needed in the state,” Mr Farounbi said, adding that the welfare packages for Magistrates needed to be enhanced.

The NBA lamented the difficulty experienced by lawyers and litigants in the course of executing judgments, “particularly from the angle of procurement of police assistance.”

“We urge the authority of the Judiciary to liaise with the Commissioner of Police with the view of having, at least, a Police Post within the High Court premises both in Lagos and Ikeja,” the NBA chief said, adding, “The Bar decries the attitude of Court Sheriffs who continue to extort lawyers and litigants before effecting service of court processes.”

“The Bar urges the Chief Judge to immediately license courier companies and law firms to undertake service of processes as prescribed in Order 7 of our Rules.”

Other items highlighted by the Bar include reform of the Probate Registry, review of the E-Filing System, implementation of the NBA seal project and review of Order 2 Rule 3 of the Magistrates’ Court Civil Procedure Rules which makes a summons void if not served within three months.

The Bar and Bench Forum is organised every year as part of the new legal year activities of the Lagos State Judiciary. This year’s event had in attendance Judges and Magistrates of the Lagos State Judiciary, including the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Olufunmilayo Atilade, as well as lawyers, including Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN).

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