13th August, 2010
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN),Â has formally opened the Igbosere Magistratesâ€™ Court with a pledge that his administration would ensure that the constitutional provisions for securing the liberty of citizens are given the fullest expression in the State.
Addressing a large gathering of both serving and retired Judges and Justices of the High and Supreme courts and other members of the Bar and Bench, members of the State Executive Council and Legislature, Traditional Rulers and top government functionaries as well as other stakeholders at the premises of the court, Governor Fashola also announced that the new court would flag off the first ever sitting of Magistrates on Saturdays to dispense justice in the State in accordance with the Stateâ€™s reformed Magistratesâ€™ Court Law.
The Governor, who said the new Magistratesâ€™ Court Law was replacing the one that that had been in use in the last 38 years, explained, however, that the Saturday sitting of Magistrates would be done â€œin a manner and in rotation to be administratively determinedâ€.
â€œThis will, hopefully, put an end to the practice where citizens are detained from Friday until Monday simply because there was no court to admit them on bailâ€, the Governor said hinting that the Government would in future explore the possibility of overnight sitting â€œsuch that the liberty of the citizen is further securedâ€.
Giving a brief review of the Stateâ€™s Judicial reforms, Governor Fashola, who said the dream started in 1999, declared â€œThe dream was shared by many of us who signed on to a common cause in pursuit of liberty, freedom and justice in a free society as championed by one man, my illustrious predecessor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and pursued with resoluteness by another, Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN)â€, adding that it started with a clear understanding of the need and purpose for the reform of the Judiciary if democracy was to survive.
â€œThe infrastructural, procedural and welfare reforms that have taken place at the High Court level of the Justice sector of Lagos State and the impact nationwide require no further repetition. That was the beginning of the revolution. As successors to that administration, it was clear to us that those achievements must never be thrown away. It was our welcome burden and immense privilege to build on themâ€, the Governor said.
He added, â€œWe recognize that as Africaâ€™s fastest growing mega-city, law and order were critical pillars for the sustenance of democratic life and the magistracy was the most pivotal access point of contact for citizens with the justice system. This is the level of judicial system that deals with housing; especially the landlord and tenant matters. It also deals with road traffic offences and many violations that are not of a felonious nature, including sanitation and environmental offences and those everyday challenges that determine our human development index as a peopleâ€.
Praising the Stateâ€™s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Olasupo Shasore for his commitment to the completion of the Court House and others across the State, Governor Fashola further disclosed that the new court, with 22 courtrooms and Magistratesâ€™ Chambers, was the first of a total of nine court houses at different advanced stages of completion across the State.
The Governor described the courthouse as the largest purpose built court building in Nigeria saying in addition to being equipped with modern verbatim court reporting facilities aimed at relieving Magistrates of the effort of the obsolete system of recording proceedings in longhand, he has approved the engagement of 30 Verbatim Reporters to serve in already designated offices in the court building.
â€œThey will provide the valuable court records that will reduce time spent on litigation in the magistratesâ€™ Courts and the Judiciary at largeâ€, the Governor said, adding that with a variety of new legislations to respond to issues like climate change, environmental protection, noise pollution, public Health and safety, urban planning and building control, the new magistracy Law and increased courtroom capacities, the State is in a good position to take its rightful place in the global community as a City-State where law and order thrives and the rule of law is observed.
Reviewing the history of Magistracy as an institution in Lagos, Governor Fashola, who said there were seven Chief Magistrates in the Lagos Colony between 1862 and 1905, paid glowing tributes to the celebrated jurists of the State who, according to him, â€œstarted their careers as Magistratesâ€ adding that â€œthe Magistracy gradually became a natural ground for the making of jurists of uncommon qualitiesâ€.
Such celebrated jurists, the Governor named included Hon. Sir Olumuyiwa Jibowu, Sir Adetokunbo Ademola and S.O, Lambo, among others, adding, â€œBut amongst all these great jurists who started from the magistracy, there was undoubtedly a first amongst these equals. He was Mr. Justice John Idowu Conrad Taylorâ€.
He described the late Jurist who was appointed temporary magistrate in 1947 and a Judge of the High Court of Western Nigeria in 1956, as an upright, courageous and a brilliant judge pointing out that the new Igbosere Courthouse was dedicated to J.I.C. Taylorâ€™s memory â€œin recognition of his Spartan and undiminished service and contributions to the Lagos judiciaryâ€.
In his welcome remarks earlier, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Olasupo Shasore (SAN), said the Court House, which he described as part and parcel of the Lagos judiciary, â€œis a demonstration of the commitment of the present administration to the reform of the Stateâ€™s Justice Systemâ€.
Pointing out that the new courthouse is for the good of the public, Shasore declared, â€œThis administration will be remembered for its commitment to the reform of the Justice system in the Stateâ€, adding that the court is for public order and the propagation of justice in the State.