OPEN LETTER TO ALL STATE LEGISLATORS AND STATE JUDICIAL SERVICE COMMISSIONS ON THE WELFARE OF MAGISTRATES AND CUSTOMARY COURT JUDGES by Bayo Akinlade Esq

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    INTRODUCTION
    More than 70% of all legal disputes are handled by lower courts in Nigeria. This is because over 80% of our population are middle and lower class citizens whose dispute fall within the jurisdiction of the lower courts.

    ACCESS TO JUSTICE
    Most Nigerians are denied access to justice because of the lack of basic infrastructure at the lower courts, insufficient magistrates and other vices.

    At least every local council area should have a magistrate court but that’s not the case in most parts of Nigeria and we wonder why there is so much insecurity and lawlessness.

    CIVIL AND CRIMINAL JURISDICTION OF LOWER COURTS
    Most, if not all tenancy matters are within the jurisdiction of magistrate Courts

    All commercial transactions below 10 million naira (at least for Lagos State) are resolved in the lower courts

    All customary marriages and small disputes are handled by customary courts

    All Criminal cases that do not attract capital punishments can be tried in a magistrate court.

    It goes without saying that our lower courts play perhaps a more fundamental role in maintaining peace and order in our communities than our superior courts.

    DID YOU KNOW?
    Some magistrates earns less than 200k per month?

    At retirement some of them may not earn more than 20k in pension and gratuity per month?

    Many of them don’t have vehicles and cannot afford one if not provided for by the Executive Arm of Government?

    They handle sensitive cases on tenancy issues but some of them cannot afford to pay rent for a decent apartment?

    The average magistrate handles 10 to 30 matters a day and sits for 4 to 8 hours a day without taking a break

    They handle sensitive criminal cases but do not have any protection from the criminal underworld

    And so much more

    THE CALL
    We call upon our State Legislators and respective State Chief Judges to put heads together and come up with a reasonable package for Judges of our Lower Courts.

    We have heard the uproar from our Supreme Court Justices, we have seen the outcome of a recent judgement increasing the salaries of superior court judges BUT WE LEFT OUT THE MOST IMPORTANT SET OF JUDGES AND THOSE ARE THE JUDGES THAT KEEP NIGERIA SAFE AND SECURE … WE LEFT OUT THE MAGISTRATES AND THE CUSTOMARY COURT JUDGES.

    The Welfare of our Lower Court Judges Matters!

    SUPPORT OUR LOWER COURTS

    Bayo Akinlade Esq
    Citizens Support for Lower Courts Initiative

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