Magistrates and judges of courts in Kogi state have been warned against residing outside the jurisdictions of their courts if they still want to remain in the service of the Kogi state judiciary.
The Chief Judge of the state, Hon. Justice Nasiru Ajanah, gave the warning on Friday when he hosted the new leadership of the Idah branch of the NBA in his chambers in Lokoja, the state capital.
While warning that it will no longer be business as usual, he noted that a situation where judges operate from locations different from the communities where their courts were located breeds indolence and grossly affects such judges’ efficiency.
He stated that such situations were also capable of affecting time management in the proceedings before their courts, adding that the time expended on shuttling between the places of residence and venue of their courts would have been better utilized in the coordination and management of their courts.
The Chief Judge’s warning was in response to a remark by the Chairman of Idah branch of the association, Mr. Friday Ogwo, who had drawn his attention to the shortage of judges in some of the lower courts in that jurisdiction of the state.
The CJ said it was no longer acceptable to the judiciary to condone judges who place their comfort ahead of their adjudicatory services, irrespective of the transfer of judges around the state.
He said with efficiency mostly, some magistrates and particularly Area Court judges that have stayed long in an area were moved to other places in order to inject new lives into the courts.
Just as the transfers were being done gradually and systematically, he said the general overhauling of the Area Court system in the state also takes cognizance of a few judges who had had petitions written against them especially those found to have engaged in activities not in consonance with their calling.
Justice Ajanah maintained that the re-engineered level of discipline in the Kogi State Judiciary would not allow any judge in the state to muddle up things or compromise the system.
He further disclosed that not many of the magistrates and judges were personally known to him but they were being judged by their performance rating, a process which he has institutionalized to keep judges on their toes.
“I don’t know most of them, but I look through their records and any one I found worthy of assigning to any court we move him or her there,” he said.
Earlier, Mr. Ogwo had solicited the CJ’s intervention at reducing the number of cases pending at one of the Upper Area courts in Idah, noting that the volume of cases before the court were almost overwhelming the judge who was equally handling other matters in his former court before his transfer to Idah.
By this, he lamented the challenges posed by inadequate judges at the lower courts in the state while also stating that the development was negatively affecting the dispensation of justice in that part of the state.
The chairman of Idah NBA said: “My lord, we humbly, passionately and seriously appeal to your lordship with respect to the Upper Area Court 1 which has been partially incapacitated by reason of transfer (of) the president…..(which) has greatly affected the regular sitting of the court.
“My lord, this also has unpleasant effects on the legal practitioners who have some cases pending before the courts. We therefore, humbly and passionately appeal to your lordship to use your exalted office to rescue the situation.
“We wish to use this avenue to draw your lordship’s attention to the issue of cases pending before each of the Upper Area Courts within the jurisdiction. For instance, at Upper Area Court 1 Anyigba, there are about 235 cases pending of which ten (10) to fourteen (14) cases may appear on the cause list daily.
“My lord, at Upper Area Court 1, Idah, there are about 250 cases excluding appeals, Upper Area Court Ankpa has about 89 cases, same thing with the Upper Area Courts Dekina, Oguma, Onyedega and Okpo.”