The Lagos State Government prides itself as the most progressive state in Nigeria, and the judiciary follows the same narrative by enacting laws and various policies to enable the course of justice. Stakeholders in the legal profession have really had issues with recent actions of the judiciary; especially over increments of statutory and official fees payable.
Ordinarily, the expectation would be that the revenue generated should be put into good use. However, this is not the case. The Lagos State Judiciary has recently shown its lack of tolerance for criticisms and advice on a number of its policies and actions. The imposition of punitive damages against the former Chairman of the NBA Ikeja; Mr. Adeshina Ogunleye, for instituting an action in court against the exorbitant increase in statutory fees confirms this.
It puts the judiciary in bad light when basic infrastructure that would aid the course of justice are missing. A visit to some of the courts across the state points to this fact. It is disheartening that we still grapple with issues like proper lighting and ventilation in some Lagos Courts.
The fact that judges, magistrates and lawyers cannot be heard to complain is perhaps the principal reason why poor service delivery sits with us at the table in the legal industry.
We will recall the recent fanfare and expenditure that greeted the installation of inverters in some of our courts in Lagos, and how it was said to be the next level for justice delivery. Months after these carnival inaugurations and publicity, we are confronted with court rooms without common bulbs.
What is the essence of an inverter that cannot guarantee a fully lighted bulb in the court room? This is the style and sight in court rooms in Yaba and Ikorodu to mention a few. How do we expect the wheels of justice to move faster if all of these minute issues are with us?
I call on the Chief Justice of Lagos State to take advantage of his emergence and goodwill to give us light in our courtrooms. Lack of lighting should not be a reason to adjourn proceedings. The litigants are human beings who depend on the judiciary in a society that prohibits self-help in the face of disputes.
The Lagos brand is only as good as what we see and enjoy. We want light. Getting a three-month adjournment because the judge or magistrate couldn’t see clearly is unpleasant and shows the brand in a poor light.
I hope we will get these issues resolved in good time. Our judges and magistrates put in so much efforts to get the work done, please let the necessary tools and facilities they need be provided.
Mumuni Damilola is a Lagos Lawyer