By Ezra Ukanwa, Abuja
AS part of efforts to improve access to justice by micro, small and medium enterprises, MSMEs, Oyo and Rivers State Judiciaries, in collaboration with the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council, PEBEC, have inaugurated Small Claims Judicial Committees to begin the process of establishing Small Claims Courts in their respective States.
This was contained in a statement signed by the Special Adviser to the President, Ease of Doing Business and PEBEC Secretary, Dr. Jumoke Oduwole, which was made available to journalists, in Abuja, on Wednesday.
In line with its mandate to make Nigeria a progressively easier place to do business, the PEBEC has worked with various State Judiciaries over the years to improve access to justice by micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) through the establishment of Small Claims Courts.
The objective of this court is to improve the judicial process by making it easier to resolve simple debt recovery disputes involving small claims of five million naira (N5m) and below.
Judgements are expected to be delivered within 60 days for all claims filed in a Small Claims Court, with an additional 30 days for enforcement.
The court also strongly encourages self-representation and adheres to strict timelines for important court events. So far, Small Claims Courts have been established in Lagos, Kano, Edo, Ogun, Ekiti, Jigawa, and Nasarawa States.
The Chief Judge of Oyo State, Justice Munta Ladipo Abimbola, who inaugurated the Small Claims Judicial Committee for the establishment of Small Claims Court in Oyo State on November 22, 2022, emphasised the importance of Small Claims Courts in expediting simple financial cases.
Afterwards, he charged the committee, which will be chaired by Justice O.S. Adeyemi, to diligently carry out its mandate in accordance with the PEBEC guidelines and submit its report within 14 days of the inauguration.
In a similar vein, earlier this month, on November 4, 2022, the Chief Judge of the Rivers State Judiciary inaugurated a Small Claims Judicial Committee to oversee the creation of a Small Claims Court in Rivers State.
During the inauguration, the Chief Judge of Rivers State Judiciary, Honourable Justice Simeon C. Amadi, who constituted the Committee, asserted that while the State appeared to be starting late in establishing a Small Claims Court, the Rivers State Judiciary was “spurred to start well and overtake others who started earlier”. The Committee will be chaired by Hon. Justice C. D. Green.
The PEBEC was established in July 2016 by President Muhammadu Buhari to remove critical bottlenecks and bureaucratic constraints to doing business in Nigeria. His Excellency the Vice President, Professor Osinbajo SAN, GCON, is Chair of the Council.
The PEBEC has since 2017, continued to collaborate with subnational governments, including the State Judiciary, to implement reforms targeted at making it easier to do business in all 36 States of the Federation, including the Federal Capital Territory.