The Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Opeyemi Oke, has said the courts in the state are facing emergency situation.She stated this following the evaluation of 2,886 old case files including a 70 year old case, under its Backlog Elimination Programme (BEP).
According to her, the BEP is designed to decongest the courts by re-evaluation of old cases and find ways of resolving them through.Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) or accelerated hearing.She noted that the 70 year old case, which is the oldest, is “seeking to enforce a judgment”.
Justice Oke said there is need for action to be taken to redress the situation through the BEP and recourse to ADR.This, she said was why BEP was commissioned in January 2018, adding that it was aimed to decongest high court of Lagos of old cases.
The chief judge further said that land matters accounted for majority of the backlog cases, followed by commercial matters which are based on breach of contracts, debt recovery, mortgage matters, bank and customers related disputes, matrimonial causes, probate and enforcement of judgments adding that majority of the cases are at trial stages.
Also, the President of Lagos Court of Arbitration (LCA), Mr Yemi Candide-Johnson (SAN) in his lecture titled, “Discussing the Future of Access to Justice and Delivery of Justice in Lagos State: the Role of the Courts and Backlog Elimination Programme” said all indices confirmed that civil justice system is failing and that delay especially was affecting prompt, efficient and effective justice to the users of the court. He therefore advised that judges should not be afraid but to exercise their power and authority in order to prevent those pitfalls.