Enugu Magistrates want increased jurisdiction for effective justice delivery

Magistrates in Enugu State, under the auspices of the Magistrates Association of Nigeria (MAN) yesterday called for an increased jurisdiction vested in the State Magistrate Courts.

The magistrates, who made the demand during an advocacy visit to the Enugu State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Dr. Kingsley Tochukwu Udeh, at the Ministry of Justice Headquarters, Enugu, lamented that limited jurisdiction vested in the State Magistrate Courts was slowing down effective justice delivery.

Chairman of the group, Magistrate C.K.C Idu, noted that the limited jurisdiction overloads the State High Courts with cases that could have been handled at the Magistrate Court.

He therefore called for the review of their jurisdiction, to align with current realities and what obtains in other states, such as Lagos, Delta, Anambra, etc.

The magistrates also identified the Magistrate Court Law, Criminal Code, and Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL) as some of the other major challenge facing the smooth administration at the lower level, saying that they pose as contradictions and lacunae in some State laws. 

The magistrates therefore advocated for the amendment of the affected laws to address the identified lacunae, which would aid the effective administration of law and justice, as well as enhancing peace and security in the State.

The chairman further listed other challenges faced by Magistrate Courts to include: harassment of court bailiffs carrying out lawful execution of court process or order, insufficient courtrooms for court sittings, among others. 

According to them, lack of courtrooms was reducing productivity and output among them, as some magistrates sit for 3hrs in a day to make room for other Magistrates to sit.

While thanking the commissioner for granting them the opportunity to interact with him and table their challenges, the magistrates therefore pledged their allegiance, support and solidarity to the administration of Governor Peter Ndubuisi Mbah.

The Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Dr. Kingsley Udeh, thanked the Executives of the Magistrates Association for the visit and assured them of his support in the pursuit of the solutions to the issues raised.

The Attorney General however advised the association to come up with an action plan which will identify the problems and challenges, suggest solutions thereto, the timelines for implementing the solutions, and those responsible for the implementation.

He disclosed that the administration of Dr. Peter Mbah, through the Ministry of Justice, has concluded the review of Bills to amend the Magistrate Court Law, Criminal Code and the ACJL, which will soon be presented to the House of Assembly for passage. He also disclosed that the Administration of Gov. Mbah is working towards modernizing and equipping the courts to optimize justice delivery in the State.


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