The dirty premises of the Lagos High Court, Ikeja are becoming an eyesore to staff and visitors.
Throughout last week, noticeable heaps of refuse that dotted strategic corners around the court premises were the topic of discussion among some visitors to the High Court premises, who felt such should not be found around the highbrow court. They wondered what could have gone wrong with the facility’s management system.
The court entrance looks well kept with befitting security personnel, which gives a false impression about the surroundings.
After the gate, however, a look at the left side of the court offers an unpleasant impression of how not the surroundings of any public place ought to be.
For starters, the constructed waste site is filled to the brim, with the refuse beginning to spill on the ground. To compound the situation, some branded buses for the judiciary staff have broken down and are lying fallow within the premises.
And though the buses’ tyres are deflated, but the bodies are covered in thick dust. The refuse spilling from the filled waste bins under the busses is being blown by the wind, which those cleaning the compound must have overlooked.
If one proceeds beyond that point and goes close to where the court Sheriff’s offices are situated, what meets the eyes is another eyesore. Here, some impounded items have been abandoned, carelessly loaded with such items as wooden doors, refrigerators and other household equipment that are looking dusty. They have equally attracted rodents that are adding to the ugliness.
The canteen is not spared, as there is another heap of seized property that are already rotting away somewhere in a corner.
Pointing to the heaps, a visitor said: “This is absolutely unbefitting of the premises of a highly placed like Lagos High Court, which ought to have been a model for other court premises across the nation on how to properly manage such.
“This is definitely a signal that there could be more issues about the maintenance of this environment. It is least expected that the surroundings of a highly placed court would look like this. If the outside is like this, one wonders what the inside of the various courts would look like. It will not be surprising if bedbugs and other parasitic insects are living inside the seats where people could easily carry them to their houses. As it is, the solution is not just about removing the debris, there is also the need to fumigate the premises.”
One of the major problems is the confiscated vehicles of different makes that are parked haphazardly around the premises. They are to be found practically everywhere. These are just occupying space and gathering dust. Some observers believe that the longer the vehicles remain in the compound, the more they get rusty and continue to needlessly occupy space. “Very soon, this might begin to constitute health hazards for those within the premises,” one of them said.
A staff in the court told The Guardian: “Some of these vehicles have been here for over three years. I think there should be a place where all these exhibits would be neatly arranged and not necessarily within this premises.”
Another visitor jokingly said, “Gone are those days when refuse heaps littered the streets of Lagos creating huge embarrassment to the government. Today, the menace has shifted to the Lagos High Court Ikeja.”
There were suggestions that the court management should have solid arrangement with the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) on how the environment would be cleaned up everyday, if the task has overwhelmed those currently handling it.
Speaking on the issue, some lawyers that craved anonymity, held that it was unfortunate that valuable property and assets, which commercial values are put at several billions of naira are currently rotting away in Ikeja High Court premises.
They observed that aside these constituting an eyesore, they are also breeding rodents within the court premises.
The seized items include luxury cars, generating sets, household and office appliances, computers, generators and transformers, among others.
Although, official figures are not readily available, experts placed the value of these items at billions of naira.
Experts said they could have been converted into useful commercial value, as is done in other climes or properly secured to prevent decay.
Aside the level of decay, which may render them useless at the end of litigation, the objects are also affecting the beauty of the court.
The development was ascribed to slow pace of judicial resolution, corruption, lack of warehouses, inadequate administrative acumen to deal with such and penchant of Nigerians to rush to court without using alternative dispute resolution mechanism.
Although, officials have exonerated the judiciary of the unimpressive situation, stakeholders believe there is still a lot the judiciary can do to prevent or at least reduce the number of seized articles that are littering the court premises.
Some litigants said the situation could be different, if the system were working, particularly when cases are given expeditious actions they deserved.
While expressing disappointment over the development, a litigant said there is need for the court to properly store valuable property seized from a judgment debtor and exhibit lying waste at the premises.
She said: “These property are worth millions or billions of naira, and they are currently lying waste at the premises of Ikeja, due to non-availability of a warehouse. Aside rotting away in the rain, they are occupying the parking spaces meant for lawyers and litigants…”
In other courts like Igbosere, many of such confiscated property were destroyed, burnt during the #EndSARS protest last year.
Another observer condemned the dumpsite within the court premises, saying, “The refuse should be evacuated timely.”