My Grouse: The Pains of Upgrade; The FHC Lagos Experience

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Ordinarily, to upgrade means to raise to a higher standard. It also means to improve by adding or replacing to make easier and more efficient. But in Nigeria, to upgrade means to make more difficult, complex and totally frustrating and for some strange reasons, the HQ of the entirety of this strange Nigerian type of upgrade is found in legal practice.  As a matter of fact, and as it stands now, every discerning lawyer should receive the news of any form of upgrade in any aspect of our practice with panic.

I would have given example of a couple of these strangeness but, my attention span has greatly reduced since after the Covid-19 pandemic and I am thinking that this is not peculiar to me. So, let me not even begin to talk about the likes of CAC and its ever-crashing server and the recent use of middle-men courier service providers and the Lagos State judiciary and the e-filing upgrades. Let me just go straight to the reason for my rant; the Federal High Court Lagos Division and remita payment frustration.

It would appear that the remita payment server at the Federal High Court Lagos is perpetually down? At least it has never been up whenever I am there for filing. Interestingly, unlike the experience at the court’s cash office there is a  business centre just a few meters away, (precisely located at the car park) that magically has constant link to the remita payment platform? Without any compulsion, the business centre conveniently charges between N500 to N5000 to generate remita codes for payments. It is alarming that this exercise has been going on for so long and nobody is talking about it. 99% of the people who go to this business centre are lawyers or litigation clerks from law firms. Yet no lawyer or law firm has complained or the complaint has not been loud enough to make the Federal High Court look at this critical issue.

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Let me replay a scenario. I recently had a personal affidavit to depose to at the Court. Got to the cash office and the tape was played “server is down”. Then I asked (as if I do not know), ” what do I do?” The response; “check the car park.” I was hoping the response would change.

I keep imagining how this would play out to first timers and non lawyers who believe in systems and intend to personally attend to their stuffs.

There are those who are already used to the drill. Once their processes is assessed, they run straight to the business centre at the car park and queue up waiting to pay at least N500 to generate the remita payment code. It doesn’t matter that all you are filing is a personal affidavit assessed at N100, you would part with N500 to the business center. While on the queue, you have to keep praying that the attendant’s mood does not swing, otherwise, you would be left on the queue without any form of courtesy.

I have tried to wonder about the kind of money these people make from lawyers and litigants. I have also had to wonder whether the FHC server is indeed always down and if not, what the entire arrangement is about. If you are also wondering, then, let us just keep wondering together. But while we wonder, the only way for you to file that process is to wait it out and pay that money charged. Oh, well, there is an alternative, (which I am guessing because I have never explored it), you can take your processes for assessment, then return to your office and generate remita receipt and return to the FHC to complete your filing. If your office is at Badagry or Ikorodu, you may do your maths. Another alternative that may work is for you to go along with a mobile printer and laptop, access your process, login to remita, pay, print out and return to complete filing. If the two alternative are not feasible, then you have to patronize car park business centre, periodt!

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Sometimes, I get so frustrated that I would feel like starting an aluta but each time I get there and tried to summon the spirit of Chief Gani Fawehimi, the man does not respond. I guess the people calling him are too many. As Aluta is not inside me, I just join the queue at the car park and pay 400% extra sometimes and just get out.

Please take this as a rant from a frustrated lawyer, nothing more. I would assume that we have become so impassive and so beaten. Abnormality, dishonesty, perversion, degeneracy and their likes have become norm. When posterity comes calling, I would present this as my receipt.

What receipt would you have?

Ok. my receipt is not enough.

Well, at least, I have a receipt!

what do you have?

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