Ondo: Many of us take Okada to Courts —Chief Magistrates

By: Ade Adeleke

Magistrates and Chief Magistrates in Ondo state and the country are working under difficult condition despite their heavy work load in handling difficult cases in courts.

They expressed deep sadness that many of them used to take commercial motorcyclists popularly known as Okada riders to work courts while their courts are not conducive nationwide.

To this end, The Magistrates Association of Nigeria has sought the amendment of Section 318 of the 1999 Constitution to include their members as judicial officers to better their condition of service.

This is contained in the association’s submission at the ongoing House of Representatives public hearing on Constitution Review taking place in Akure, the Ondo state capital.

The magistrates’ position was signed by the National President, Saidu Safiyanu Umar and the National General Secretary, Chukwuemeka Nweke and it was delivered before the federal lawmakers by Chief Magistrate Tope Aladejana of Ondo state judiciary.

The magistrates pointed out that if such amendment was made, their condition of service and renumeration would improve tremendously across the country.

A MEMORANDUM SUBMITTED BY THE MAGISTRATES ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA TO THE HOUSE AD-HOC COMMITTEE ON REVIEW OF THE 1999 CONSTITUTION.

We commend the 9th National Assembly for taking the bold step to review the 1999 Constitution of our great Country. Although we have forwarded several Memoranda in the past, we are very hopeful that this time our position will be given favorable consideration.

The Magistrates’ Association of Nigeria is the Umbrella body that represents all Magistrates in the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory. It was founded decades ago by Hon. Justice Modibbo Alfa Belgore, former Chief Justice of Nigeria, who was then a Magistrate. In our resolve to have the status of Magistrates recognized constitutionally, we present this Memorandum on the need to recognize Magistrates as “Judicial Officers”.

OUR PRAYER Consequently. we hereby pray that the committee amend the provisions of section 318 of the 1999 Nigeria Constitution to include Magistrates in the definition of Holders of judicial office. For the sake of clarity and emphasis. We are praying that the above section be amended in the following terms:

“Judicial officer means the office of the Chief Justice of Nigeria or a Justice of the Supreme Court, the president or a Justice of the Court of Appeal. the Office of the Chief judge or a Judge of the federal High Court, the Office of the Chief judge or a judge of the High Court of the federal capital territory, Abuja, the office of the Chief Judge of a state and a Judge of the High court Court of a state; a Grand Kadi or Kadi of the Sharia Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, a Grand Kadi or Kadi of the Sharia Court of a state. a president or a Judge of thc Customary Court of Appeal of a state, or a Magistrate of the Federal Capital territory, Abuja or of a State; And a reference to a ‘Judicial Officer‘ is a reference to the Holder of any such office”

CONCLUSION. We reiterate our confidence in your esteemed body and trust that you will appreciate the need for the recommended amendment and will therefore deem it fit to grant our request. We pray that the Almighty Guides and leads you in your deliberations as you set about the onerous task of bequeathing to Nigeria a stronger and more enduring Constitution. Thank you.

Saidu Safiyanu Umar
National President

Chukwuemeka Umeadi Nweke
National General Secretary