Orders inspection of police cells
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA—Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, has directed Chief Judges of the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory, FCT, to compel Chief Magistrates to conduct an inspection of Police stations or other detention centres within their territorial jurisdiction.
Justice Onnoghen said he was perturbed by several complaints he received, concerning “horrific” incidents of Police brutality, inordinate arrest, detention and extortion of innocent Nigerians by security agents.
In a statement, yesterday, by his maedia aide, Mr. Awassam Bassey. the CJN maintained that such incidents have assumed frightening proportions in recent times to warrant the intervention of the judiciary.
He bemoaned that magistrate courts across the country are currently overwhelmed with cases of such brutality, inordinate arrests and detention of citizens.
He said: “I have observed, and received several complaints of the horrific incidents of Police brutality, inordinate arrest, detention and extortion of innocent Nigerians by officers across the country.
“These incidents have assumed frightening proportions in recent times. The magistrate courts are currently overwhelmed with cases of such brutality, inordinate arrests and detention of citizens.
“As we approach election year, it is imperative that we curb these excesses through the instrumentality of the statutory powers of the courts.
In a related development, the CJN, yesterday, directed heads of courts to make Practice Directions that will dissuade litigants, who institute actions without exploring the arbitration clauses in contracts.
The CJN, who gave the directive after he commissioned a new Court of Appeal Mediation Centre in Abuja, said it was high time the judiciary deployed multi-modal justice delivery that would ensure that the wheels of justice are speeded up to meet the demands of the citizenry.
He said the overall goal of the Court of Appeal Mediation Centre was to improve the efficiency in the court system, promote conflict resolution and provide more effective justice delivery in the Appellate Court.
“It is hoped that this initiative will see the centre grow to become a veritable alternative to the rigours of courts,” the CJN added.
In her address, President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, discribed the Court of Appeal Mediation Centre as first of its kind in the entire West African region.
She said: “The Court of Appeal Mediation Centre would provide a platform that will encourage disputing parties in reaching an expeditious resolution of their disputes in good faith; and in a fair and efficient manner.”
“The Centre will improve access to justice, user confidence in the court system, lighten the Court’s docket and invariably afford the conventional Court ample time for such matters or issues that are best solved through litigation.
“This is a giant stride in the right direction as Appellate Courts in countries like America, Canada, Australia, India, Singapore, and Mauritius have already achieved phenomenal successes in that regard.
“I wish to humbly appeal to members of the Bar to give Appellate mediation in this Court their maximum cooperation. We must bear in mind that our primary objective as officers in the Temple of justice is to do justice; and that justice delayed is justice denied”.