LAWYERS4CHANGE

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

THE MAROONING OF A CHIEF JUDGE

False imprisonment: the unlawful arrest or detention of a person without warrant, or by an illegal warrant, or a warrant illegally executed, and either in a prison or a place used temporarily for that purpose, or by force and constraint without confinement. False imprisonment consists in the unlawful detention of the person of another, for any length of time, whereby he is deprived of his personal liberty. Dupler v Seubert, 68 W is.2d 626, 230 N.W.2d 626, 631. The unlawful detention of occupant of an automobile may be accomplished by driving so rapidly that he cannot alight.
A person commits a misdemeanor if he knowingly restrains another unlawfully so as to interfere substantially with his liberty. Model Penal Code 212.3
The tort of “false imprisonment” is the nonconsensual, intentional confinement of a person, without lawful privilege, for an appreciable length of time, however short. City of Newport Beach v Sasse, 9 Cal.App.3d 803, 88 Cal. Rptr. 476, 480. Restatement, Torts 35. (BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY SIXTH EDITION PAGE 757).
On 8th September 2009, Honourable Justice Inumidun Akande, the erstwhile administrative judge of the Lagos High Court was sworn in as the new Chief Judge of Lagos State.
She was replacing Honourable Justice Augustine Adetula Alabi. Like all her predecessors, who ruled the Lagos Judiciary from the Ikeja High Court headquarters, the natural public expectation was that the new Chief Judge would move over to Ikeja High Court and take up the Chief Judge’s office.
When this expectation did not materialize in the first few days of the new Chief Judge’s ascension to power nobody was perturbed. In fact two to three weeks later, the matter took on a hilarious dimension as common lore had it that the new Chief Judge was ‘sanitising’ and ‘sanctifying’ the Chief Judge’s office to avoid contamination from the after effect of the exploits of her former boss in the exalted office.
It was widely alleged that the new Chief Judge was in no hurry to step into an office where raincoats and dry molten lava could be nestling behind rugs and couches.
Some others alleged that the new Chief Judge was assembling a ‘conk’ team of alfas and pastors with a sprinkle of ‘erivos’ to ensure a spiritual mine sweep of the former office of Chief Judge Alabi who was not favourably disposed to the emergence of Akande as his successor.
However after more than six weeks of coming to power and Akande C.J still remained in her old office in the Lagos High Court, tongues now began to wag against her.
Some were of the view that the new chief was just acting out her ‘normal peculiar character’ in ‘refusing’ to leave Lagos for Ikeja. Others opined that the new Chief Judge was determined to have an ornate and expensive office as Chief Judge to satisfy her personal taste and ego and as such does not care which ever length of time that goal is achieved.
The necessary implication of the presence of the Chief Judge in Lagos High Court is that all the important subordinates of hers, particularly the Chief Registrar and her three deputies – Administrative, Legal and Special Duties have had to have offices equally in Lagos High Court and maintain constant shuttles between Ikeja and Lagos at no small expense, exertion and inconvenience.
The inconsistent presence of these key officials in Ikeja is, taking its toll on operations of the Judiciary. Lawyers, litigants, other Lagos judiciary staff and other members of the public who need to meet with these officials for official reasons have had quite a hectic time making contacts with them in Ikeja as they are not regular there like before.
Now it is five months and one week since Akande .J was sworn in as the Chief Judge of Lagos State. Nonetheless the Chief Judge is still operating from Lagos High Court, a situation many stakeholders in the judiciary are not pleased with and appear baffled at the existence of the anomalous situation.
By sheer serendipity however, the Squib recently stumbled on hard evidence that indicates that Akande .J is not responsible for her continued stay in Lagos and rather is the victim of the situation.
According to a highly perched gecko on the rungs of power in the new administration of the Lagos State Judiciary, it is by extension, the Ministry of Justice Lagos State that has prevented the Chief Judge even if only unwittingly, from using her Ikeja office.
Said our source: “The Chief Judge is very much interested in moving her office to the headquarters in Ikeja but the place has been undergoing renovation for several weeks now. Of course you don’t expect the C.J to move into the office when the work in still in progress.
Now what most people don’t know or have forgotten is that the renovation of the Chief Judge’s office if not being handled by the Lagos State Judiciary.
The contract for the renovation was awarded by the Ministry of Justice and the contractor doing it is engaged by the Ministry of Justice. As usual with contractors from the Ministry of Justice, they work so slowly that you may fairly accuse them of nonchalance, incompetence or downright sabotage. Look at the court repairs, for several years now at the same Ikeja High Court they have been doing repairs of the court but it has never ended.
In short, what is holding back the C.J in Lagos is simply because she has no Ikeja office to go to.
Yes it it true that she is insisting that the office of the Chief Judge should look great – there is nothing bad about that request.
Remember that the Chief Judge is the head of one of the three arms of government. If the offices of the other two heads of government: the Governor and the Speaker are good and first class, why should the office of the head of the judiciary be ordinary and unimpressive?
As things stand, it is not clear when the renovating contractor will finish her job.
However judging from the rather slow pace of work, and the notorious reputation of contractors from the Ministry of Justice to execute their briefs in the Lagos Judiciary at the pace of a bride walking down the aisle, it may well be in the next legal year, that the renovation would finally end.”

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