By Olasunkanmi Akoni
As part of the ongoing restructuring of justice system in Lagos State, the state government has introduced Saturday as a day of business of the court in every Magisterial district in the state.
Also, henceforth, the Police would not be allowed to prosecute accused persons in the court of law except officers in the practice of the legal profession.
Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State made this known yesterday when he assented to a new bill on Magistratesâ€™ Court into law, earlier passed by the state House of Assembly.
According to Fashola, â€œthe law is not merely a new law but a law to restructure Magistratesâ€™ Court practice, the Magistracy as an institution, its perception and place in the justice sector as well as provide summary justice close to the expectations of the ordinary citizen. This reform legislation is the centrepiece of the administration of justice for Lagos State.â€
In simple terms, the governor said the law would amongst other things ensure a fast-track of law delivery system vis-a-vis a speedy process of court cases.
Signing the bill at the State House, Alausa Ikeja, Fashola said the law would also help address landlord/tenant related problems as magistrate courts now have the power to sit over cases of not more than ten million naira of the annual rental value as against one million initially provided for by the law.
He also added that one of the most important provisions of the law is the provision that accused persons must be arraigned within a maximum period of 24 hours in court as it now introduces Saturdays as a day of business of the court in every Magistrate district in the state.
The law stipulates that no magistrate can either adjourn a case more than four times and within a period of two weeks.
Fashola noted that the state had decided to undertake a total legal and infrastructural reform of the peopleâ€™s court at this time, hence a re-enactment of the law which according to him was enacted in 1955 and had since then passed through minimal amendments.