Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana SAN advised the Chief Justice of Nigeria CJN, Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad to direct judges to listen to urgent cases via Skype and Zoom, following the federal government lock-down directive occasioned by the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria.
In a letter sent to the CJN on Wednesday titled: “Request to re-open courts to attend to bail applications and fundamental rights applications” Falana said the National Judicial Council NJC ought to review the suspension of court sittings to enable them attend to urgent matters, since the federal government has relaxed the lock down by allowing markets, shops and stalls selling food and groceries to open to customers between the hours of 10:00 am and 2:00 pm daily.
He explained that this will ensure that thousands of people who are either awaiting trial or under investigation are not subjected to unlawful detention.
The statement partly reads: “Since the federal government has relaxed the lockdown by allowing markets, shops and stalls selling food and groceries to open to customers between the hours of 10:00 am and 2:00 pm daily, the National Judicial Council (NJC) ought to review the suspension of court sittings to enable them to attend to urgent matters.
“The review has become necessary in view of the fact that motions for the bail of many criminal suspects and applications to secure the enforcement of the fundamental right to personal liberty of other detainees are pending in several courts in all the states of the federation and in the federal capital territory.
“In addition, the return dates in respect of several ex parte orders made by magistrates for the remand of a number of criminal suspects which have since expired are due to be quashed or renewed to extend time for further investigation.
“More so that the heads of the various courts are vested with the power to designate judges and magistrates to attend to urgent matters in accordance with the laws establishing such courts. However, in order to observe the social distancing directive we suggest that arrangements be made for Judges to hear urgent applications via Skype or Zoom.”
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