By: Hameed Ajibola Jimoh Esq.
Sequel to my appeal to the Honourable, the Chief Judge of FCT High Court in that regard by my letter dated the 17th day of March, 2021, and submitted to His Lordship’s Chambers on the 18th day of March, 2021, on the 29th June, 2021, the Chief Registrar of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory- Abuja, on the authority of the Honourable, the Chief Judge of the High Court, issued a directive directing all registrars of courts as follows
‘prior notice of at least 48 hours must be given to all parties in a suit where the Court is indisposed or will not sit on a date earlier on agreed or communicated to parties. This notice could be via text (SMS) or Email. ‘Parties’ includes the Prison Officer in-charge of Courts, please.
While exemptions could be made in cases of emergency or unforeseen events, this notice takes immediate effect and Registrars of all High Courts and Magistrate Courts should take note and ensure strict compliance with this directive’.
Some lawyers have been pessimistic with due respect to them, that the directive would not be complied with! I however beg to differ on their stand and or arguments. Therefore, I wish to give this tip as a way of enforcing this directive on all registrars.
In my humble advice, every lawyer has the duty to ensure compliance with this directive even with passion because it is a tool in the development of administration of justice and having regards to the advantages of the directive in the administration of justice. Therefore, I humbly advise that where a court is not sitting and the registrar of the court does not or did not and or refused and or failed and or neglected to give notice to any concerned lawyer and or litigant, such lawyer and or litigant should not hesitate to petition (or complain in writing) the Chief Judge or the Chief Registrar of the High Court against such registrar of the court (including Magistrate/District Courts) for non-compliance with the directive. Furthermore, the High Court of FCT has a standing staff disciplinary committee which would take up such complaint and ensure that necessary disciplinary measures are taken against such registrar violating such directive of the Honourabe, the Chief Judge of the Court. In this way, the registrars would definitely take the directive seriously and the purpose of the directive would have been fulfilled except with exemptions which could be made in cases of emergency or unforeseen events. One should not be discouraged and not be tired as to whether the petition would be taken up or not. There is need for continuous efforts in this petition by lawyers and litigants and all is good for all of us!
Furthermore, I humbly recommend the Honourable, the Chief Judge of the High Court of the FCT to set up a complaint mechanism to assess compliance with this directive. I also recommend the Nigerian Bar Association’s branches to do the same, especially those branches in Abuja. Human and socio-economic rights activists too and members of the public affected by the non-compliance must be crusaders in ensuring that the registrars comply with the directive issued by the Honourable, the Chief Judge, through their continuous petitions and or complaints to the Courts’ authority.
Finally, in my humble view, I am very hopeful that if we (lawyers) are ready to ensure compliance, then, the court system would make us all happy and enable us to carry out our professional duties with ease and joy.