For Lagos Magistrates, Succour at LastBy Jude Igbanoi, 05.12.2008
The Lagos State Government has set the pace again in justice administration with the conclusion and submission of the report of the Fola Arthur-Worrey Committee on Magistracy and Justice Sector Administration. The Committee which was inaugurated on August 31, 2007, was mandated to critically examine what areas needed urgent intervention of government at the first level of justice administration in Lagos State. The 13-man committee swung into action immediately and through strenuous compilation of data from other jurisdictions, meticulous research and robust deliberations by members, the Committee concluded its work and came up with a detailed three volume report and recommendations to the government. Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Supo Shasore, SAN commended the efforts of the committee and spoke of his immense pride at being associated with the work of the committee. Introducing members of the Committee to Governor Babatunde Fashola, SAN, Committee Chairman, Mr. Fola Arthur-Worrey, explained that the report was divided into four parts covering Human Capital, Administration and Funding, Rules and Procedure and Implementation. The entire report he said, was reduced to ‘bite size implementable pieces.’Also, in his remarks, the Chief Judge of Lagos State, Augustine Adetula Alabi, had many words of praise for members of the committee. The CJ told the Governor that it had become absolutely difficult to administer and effective supervise the 144 Magistrate Courts in Lagos State. He commended the foresight of the Attorney-General and expressed optimism that if the recommendations of the committee are implemented, they would go a long way in solving the numerous problems associated with first level administration of justice in the state. The high point of the CJ’s remarks was his recommendation that a retired Judge of the Lagos High Court be appointed to supervise the Magistracy. This was understood to have received the blessing of the Governor who in fact suggested that at least five retired Judges be appointed to oversee the Magistracy. The Governor, receiving copies of the report from Arthur-Worrey, reiterated the crucial role of Magistrates in the administration of justice. He expressed optimism that the report would receive the utmost and urgent attention it deserved.The case dockets of Magistrates in Lagos State cannot be compared to any other state in Nigeria, with Magistrates having as many as 50 cases a day in their dockets. With the state government aggressively pursuing its programme of renovating and constructing new Magistrate court rooms and work nearing completion in six locations, there is no doubt that this crucial first level of justice administration would occupy its pride of place.Also present at the short but impressive ceremony were (Chief Mrs.) Bola Williams SAN, retired Justice Olorunnimbe, Babatunde Ogala, Chairman Judiciary Committee of the Lagos State House of Assembly, senior officials in the Ministry of Justice and members of the state’s Judicial Service Commission. Members of the Committee include the Chairman, Mr. Fola Arthur-Worrey, Chief R.O. Sadiq, Mr. Demola Sadik, Mrs. Oyindamola Ogala, Professor Bolaji Awosanoye, Mr. Deji Omotosho, Mrs. Toyin Bashorun, Mrs. Yetunde Pinheiro, Ms. Chuka Mbanefo, Mr. Teslim Animashaun, Mr. Femi Lijadu, with Mrs. Oyinkan Badejo-Okunsanya as Secretary and Iyabo Oshodi as Assistant Secretary.