By Khalid Idris Doya
Magistrates in Bauchi state have been tasked to shun from the practice of forum shopping and granting interim orders without regard to the laid down procedure, but exercise their discretionary powers judiciously and judicially in the overall interest of justice as against any parochial or political interests.
According to the Bauchi state Magistrates Association, “If in our own case litigants decided to submit their disputes to other non-conventional judicial system on their own volition the narrative could have obviously been different”
The state chairman of Magistrates Association of Nigeria (MAN), Abdulmumini Adamu ESQ at the association’s new year event 2023 held yesterday at command house Bauchi, described as unfortunately their experience was triggered by sheer discontent with the judicial system particularly as it affects magistrate courts.
He explained that not only litigants expressed their dismay but lawyers as well on the bizarre manner people are being sent to jail over matters that are purely civil or contractual in nature or even on frivolous claims.
The chairman therefore urged the magistrates to rise above board and live up to their responsibilities with a view to restore public confidence in the judiciary as the last hope of the common man.
“It is not possible for all magistrates to be elevated to the higher bench. However, I beckon on the judiciary to do the needful in improving our welfare within the meagre available resources vide Promotions and implementations of same with the accrued benefits timely because exercising our judicial powers are always tied to our respective grades”
“The Nigerian Bar Association has the core mandate to observe, uphold and ensure the observance of the rule of law. It is therefore incumbent upon N.B.A to rise to the occasion in creating awareness amongst the citizenry and Government on the rule of law which adherence to the same will metamorphose to good governance”.
To this end, he said, lawyers have the onerous tasks to depend on the sanctity of judiciary via the instrumentality of law, and commended their efforts, saying however more needed to be done in line with their professional calling.
He also appealed to their colleagues in the private practice to desist from writing unwarranted petitions against the magistrates and judges as well on matters that right of appeal or certiorari exist and can be utilized to checkmate the excesses of the trial court if any.
Chairman Adamu noted that the path taken by some lawyers in their dealing with magistrates is not only reprehensible but also inimical to justice delivery and administration, saying the situation is already delicate and posed a grave threat to magistrates in the state.
He called on the leadership of the Nigerian Bar Association Bauchi Branch and senior lawyers in the state to intervene and salvage the situation as vanguard of the judiciary.
He stated “I am proud to intimate this August gathering that the Governor has assented to the financial autonomy bill to guarantee the independence of the judiciary in the state. This singular gesture of His Excellency is worthy of commendation”.
“This law will, among other things, ensure that allocation meant to each arm of the State government on the Consolidated Statutory Revenue Fund is promptly paid into the designated account of each arm based on the appropriation of the State for each year. This is to accentuate and make sure that the judiciary is completely independent and autonomous”.
Adamu stressed the need for continuing legal education and others like workshops, seminars and conferences to the magistrates where topical legal issues would be discussed, and expressed on some factors militate against the effective functioning of the judiciary and by extension hampers justice delivery and administration.
In his paper presentation on Admissibility of Electronically Generated Evidence under the Evidence Act, 2011, Honestly. Justice A. R. Muhammad stated that Nigerian courts contended strenuously with how to treat electronically generated documents as this was essentially because of the old evidence Act that was now repealed.
He said judicial opinions over issues relating to admissibility of electronically generated evidence were sharply divided from from the lowest court to the highest court in the land.
In her remarks the chairman of the occasion, the chief judge Bauchi state and Chairman Judicial Service Commission Honourable Justice Rabi Talatu Umar, represented by Justice Mu’azu A. Abubakar , commended the leadership of Magistrates’ Association of Nigeria in the state for their hardworking, commitment and dedication.
Justice Rabi Talatu Umar, promised to deal with any judge found wanting in disrupting the sanity of the judicial system in the state.