By Hameed Ajibola Jimoh, Esq.
It is no more a news that insecurity is almost consuming entire areas of Nigeria and facts even held that some police stations, villages, communities, religious places, homes, among others have been and continued to be invaded by either armed but unknown gunmen or bandits or kidnappers. Our roads are almost being deserted by road users and fears are pervading the nation. In all these scenarios about insecurity, courts are in the midst and are expected to continue to carry out their official duties to the public as constitutionally or statutorily guaranteed (including the lower courts). This paper considers the judicial officers and the sitting lower courts, litigants, witnesses and lawyers who use the courts as being of likely vulnerability to unknown invaders (God forbid though!) and hence, the insecurity.
Therefore, this paper calls upon the government for provision of armed security personnel at all courts across Nigeria having regards to the rising insecurity that has almost overtaken the administration of Nigeria, more so, this paper is of the humble submissions that courts are to carry out their official duties without fear and or favour; litigants, witnesses and lawyers are to freely approach any court of law too to seek redress, hence, this topic.
Security is very important in the fulfillment of the roles of the courts of law. Many of our Nigerian courts do not also have at least a police officer not to talk of armed security personnel guarding the premises. To the most unfortunate situation, some of the judicial or sitting judges especially those of the lower courts such as Area Courts’ Judges (Kadis); Customary Courts’ Judges, etc., have no police officer/orderly guarding them. Magistrates in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, for instance, have at least one police officer/orderly attached to them to guard them but Area Courts and Customary Courts that I have seen, do not have any police officer/orderly guarding them! This deficiency in the administration of justice has continued till date. I am of the humble view and appeal that this trend and or status quo of security in our courts can no more be sustainable having regard to the rising insecurity in Nigeria. Also, if these security challenges that could cause loss of lives and property as well as permanent damage to human body is and or are not remedied, judges and or sitting courts would then be justified to refuse to be called upon to carry out their official duties unless and until their security is guaranteed by the government since the welfare and security of Nigerians are the primary purpose of government by virtue of section 14(2)(c) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and the government having woefully performed these primary responsibilities.
Furthermore, there are courts that have been established to sit in isolated environments in some parts of Nigeria, especially those lower courts such as Magistrates, Area Courts and Customary Courts. In my humble view, the rising insecurity across the nation would rather no more justify the need to continue in this manner where it is very impossible and impracticable to provide armed security personnel (that are not even enough to tackle security challenges across the nation) to man and or to be stationed around those courts. Therefore, I humbly recommend and or appeal that all these courts should be moved and or made to be relocated to sit at a complex where armed security personnel can then be provided to secure the entire complex thereby reducing the manpower needed for such security. This stationing of armed security personnel would also boost the morale of those courts to carry out their official duties. Litigants, witnesses, courts’ officials and lawyers too would be encouraged to approach the court of law.
Furthermore and finally, I humbly pray My Lords, the Chief Justice of Nigeria as Chairman of the National Judicial Council of Nigeria; My Lords, the Chief Judges of the various Federals’/States’ Courts and Chairmen of Judicial Service Commission/Committee of both the Federal and the States/FCT, Abuja, to liaise with and or make these recommendations being made by this paper to the necessary authorities for immediate effect in order to guarantee security in our Nigerian courts in the interest of promoting justice and ensuring that justice is dispensed in a serene environment without fear of invasion by unknown and or unsuspected gunmen, bandits and or kidnappers. I also call on the Nigerian Bar Association to champion these recommendations.
God bless the Nigerian Judiciary! God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!