Files of Sorrow

No Comments » October 17th, 2007 posted by // Categories: General Articles



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Today is 17th October 2007. In two days time, it’ll be the whole of thirty-one days that the Lagos Judiciary marked the commencement of 2007/2008 New Legal Year.

        On the new Legal Year Day, beautiful sermons and powerful prayers were rendered during the worship sessions. Admonitions perched on the back of exhortations all to the end that the judiciary should perform much better than it did last year.

        Honourable Justice Augustine Adetula Alabi the Chief Judge of state, the “Oga pata-pata” of the judiciary, whom I will call the commander-in-chief of the judicial forces of the state gave a soul-stirring performance on that day; at least on television.

        With my two eyes, I watched the Judicial Augustus, wax eloquent before journalists and their invariable cameras and recorders about the resolve of the judiciary to do its very best in the new legal year.

        According to the Augustus, Lagos State judges have no reason to complain about their conditions of service given the munificence of the state government in that direction. Said the Augustus, if any judge demands bribe or any such thing, then such a judge is “an armed robber.”

        After watching and listening to the emphatically patriotic effusions of the learned Chief Judge, stars danced in my head; My head “swelled.” On that day, the Chief Judge vividly presented the organization he leads as one earnestly ready and invigorated to work and excel.

        Alas, talk is cheap! Nearly thirty days after 17th September 2007, much of the action in the Lagos State Judiciary (at least as far as lawyers and litigants are concerned) has been inaction.

In the two main judicial divisions {Lagos (Igbosere) and Ikeja}, one can without any fear of contradiction say that since September 18 2007, not up to 50% of the judges have had any impressive, consistent court sessions.

        When you ask the reason for this tragic redundancy, you get interesting answers as follows:

(a)            “Ah, it is due to the present renovation of the various court rooms.”

(b)            “Ah, it is because of the re-posting of the judges from their divisions.”

(c)             “Ah, it is because the Chief Judge is yet to re-assign the files of the numerous fresh and non part-heard cases to new judges.”

 

Of all the three wicked reasons given above, the one that intrigues me the most is the last.

        How numerous are the files of fresh and non part-heard cases? Quite numerous I can tell you. Let me supply some statistics for just about 11 judges who returned case files to the registry for re-assignment to some other judges, upon their reposting.

Here goes:-

 

Name of Honourable Judges:

 

No of files returned to the registry:

Atilade J.

707

Idowu J.

402

Adefope-Okojie J.

371

Pedro J.

256

Oyekan-Abdullai J.

234

Okunnu J.

147

Coker J.

82

Nwaka J.

71

Kayode Ogunmekan J.

46

Taiwo J.

40

Gbajabiamila J.

30

 

Total

 

 

2,386

 

Even anti-mathematics brains will understand that we are talking about a little less than two thousand, five hundred files here. These,from just eleven judges in a judiciary of forty-six judges.

        Yet as at press time, none of these files has been re-assigned. In fact, there can’t be less than five to seven thousand files ‘rotting away’ in the Record Section of the Lagos Judiciary, waiting, crying; indeed shouting and screaming for reactivation by way of re-assignment.

        Of course there has been no re-assignment. Nobody knows the reasons why. At any rate, I think that as usual, the Chief Judge and his lieutenants consider it “infradig” to condescend to the point of furnishing information to the bar about the paralysis.

        Instead, lawyers are advised by mandarins of the Registry to “write to the C.J or file something new.” Such actions the mandarins assure, would quicken or wake the Chief Judge or his administrative judges to re-assign the affected files.

        What odious suggestions! So the Chief Judge and his administrative judges need to be jump started to crank alive? I shudder! How did we ever come to such a sorry pass that administrators of justice have to be specially appeased or jump started to get them to work?

        Just imagine the stress and distress, the failure, neglect and refusal of the authorities of the Lagos Judiciary to re-assign case files to judges for more than four weeks now have caused the good people of Lagos State in particular and Nigeria in general! I implore the NBA to intervene in this matter as a matter of urgency. Or do we need to jump start the bar too to act! Oh, Nigeria.

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