•As magistrates decry deplorable working conditions, demand urgent intervention
The Chief Judge of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf, yesterday charged magistrates in the FCT to always give their best in the discharge of their duty of justice administration in the country.
Baba-Yusuf, who warned that, “there should be no excuse for failure,” emphasised that the magistracy plays a very crucial role in the administration of justice in the country, adding that, “if we must get it right it must be at the magistrate level, once we get it right at the bottom we will get it right at the top.”
He said this while speaking at a one-day workshop for magistrates in the FCT with the theme: “Attaining Global Best Practices in the FCT Magistracy – Challenges and Solutions.”
The Abuja CJ, noted that the theme was apt ting into account that, “the FCT Judiciary is a model judicial institution where nothing short of global best practices will suffice in our collective strive for the attainment of justice through the instrumentality of our respective courts.”
He described the magistrate court as an integral and critical aspect of the nation’s justice institution with shared responsibilities for quick dispensation of justice.
“This is indeed an onerous task in view of the heavy docket of the magistrates who must of necessity contend with the increasing number of cases in the Federal Capital Territory as a result of growing population of the city coupled with limited resources.
“In this type of atmosphere, the magistrates walk a tight rope as he has to balance the obligation to maintain best global practices in his day to day activities with obvious challenges associated with his job.
“This is undoubtedly a tall task, nevertheless there is no excuse for failure,” he said.
He expressed optimism that the line-up of events would be of tremendous assistance to the magistrates in their quest to maintain and sustain global best practices in the art of adjudication of cases brought before them and charged them to maximise the opportunity.
Earlier, the Chairman of the FCT Magistrate Association of Nigeria, Senior Magistrate, Musa Eneye, lamented the deplorable working conditions under which he and his colleagues operate.
“Today, we will consider as much as humanly possible the major impediments we face that hamper the delivery of justice, fairness and that which is legally acceptable for magistrates while proffering workable solutions which hopefully will be implemented in due course”, he said.
Amongst these impediments he said was the absence of a constitutional provisions to back the functions of the magistrate, poor infrastructures as well as poor welfare packages which exposes magistrates to corruption.
“That magistrates are most vulnerable in the current clime of insecurity in our nation cannot be overemphasised, it is a living reality,” he added.
Eneye argued that the magistrates would do better if all modern tools and gadgets of technology were at their disposal in the carrying out of their lawful duties, adding that the superior courts would also be less burdened by appeals to redressed perceived wrong judgments if they are well equipped with current technology and ICT deployed in the search of cases before judgments and rulings are delivered.