Lagos empowers customary courts to handle criminal matters

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LAGOS—Lagos State government today disclosed it has commenced the process of accommodating some aspects of criminal jurisdiction in the state customary laws.

This was disclosed by the state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Ade Ipaye at a workshop organised for the Customary Court Judges.

He said unlike the past, this will enable some aspects of the criminal offences to be handled at the local level.

According to him, the government is much interested in the suggestions by those advocating that some lesser neighbourhood criminal offences be handled at the local level and is working seriously on the suggestions.

Ipaye said: “We are bringing this power back. When we do, we rely on you to display appropriate sense of responsibility in dispensing justice.”

He explained that part of the reasons why the criminal laws were initially expunged from the Customary Laws was to prevent judges at the local level from being influenced and using their position to send people to prison arbitrarily.

However, he urged them to shun corruption and admonished them to apply criminal law only in extreme cases when the criminal jurisdiction  is restored.

Former chairman of the Judiciary Committee in State House Assembly, Hon. Abdul-Lateef Hakeem, who delivered a key-note address on the theme, “Administration of Justice at the Grassroot: Myth or Reality,”  lamented that the public took to self help and engage in jungle justice because they have lost faith in the system.

He  admonished the judges against miscarriage of justice, stressing that they should use their position to influence the life of other members of the society positively.

The state Chief Judge, Justice Ayotunde Phillips, represented by a Deputy Registrar, Mrs. A.O. Soladoye charged the judges to maintain a high level of honesty and integrity in the administration of justice at the grass-root.

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