LAWYERS4CHANGE

Saturday, January 30, 2010

HON. CHIEF JUDGE, IS SOMEBODY ‘CHOPPING’ THE MONEY?


Mr. Boniface Ajaja (no real names) a barrister at law was on his way to a Magistrate Court in Apapa in November 2009, when he ran into a grid-lock of a traffic Jam.
The time, 8.20a.m. In twenty minutes his car had inched forward only a hundred-meters. Yet the court-house was no les than three kilometers away.
Muttering and cursing at the same, the now sweaty barrister decided on a radical course of action - he would abandon his vehicle for a bike-ride to the court.
And that's exactly what he did. He got to the court just in the nick of time as his case was being called.
However a damper was thrown his way. The presiding magistrate, in open court made this declaration:
“Sorry Mr. Ajaja but I am afraid your matter would not be going on . The ……..” Ajaja Esq quickly cut in “Mi lord, I beg the court to consider us. This matter is now two years old in this court. We have only one more witness to call in this case and he is here sir. We are ready sir”
Then the magistrate replied-“Yes you may be ready but the court is not ready. The Registrar has told me there is no paper for me write on. If there is no paper, how will I work?"
Diverse impeccable sources have confirmed to the Squib that the dearth or non-availability of stationeries in the form of files, writing sheets, envelopes, biros etc is a perennial occurrence. A source asserted “but that’s the norm”.
We learnt that magistrates have different attitudes and reactions to the situation. While some do nothing about the situation and only work when there is official supply of the needed items, some others ask counsel to litigants’ to provide the stationeries while a few others spend their personal funds to buy the stationeries.
That the dearth of stationeries is prevalent in the magistrate courts is under scored by this revealing statement of a concerned magistrate.
It is common knowledge that the authorities do regularly and adequately supply stationeries to the magistrate courts.
Even in the few courts where it seems stationeries never run down, the situation is created by the enterprise of the registrars of such courts who devise means and strategies to ensure that their magistrates have materials to work with since.
If there is no stoppage of work, they (the registrars) would have no opportunity to cadge or extort money from counsel and litigants alike.
A source in the corridor of power of the Lagos State Judiciary told the Squib that the Chief Judge of the State Inumidun Akande J is in the dark about the terrible situation.
This is because “every month the judiciary actually spends close to two million naira-to buy stationeries, every month."
And the items are supposed to be distributed to all the magistrate courts every month too.
In the light of this information the Squib, infact all the stakeholder in the Lagos State Judiciary, whether indeed such huge amount of money monthly is spent on stationeries for Magistrate courts.
Two, are these items actually bought by those saddled with its procurement, and if bought are they supplied to the prescribed quarters or are they diverted somewhere else?