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Mobile Courts Legality in Nigeria

Mobile courts in Nigeria

The Position of the Law on Mobile Courts and its Procedure in Nigeria

Society is often fraught with different kinds of disputes, which could either be civil or criminal in nature. The court, therefore, is the body, vested with the power to hear and resolve disputes amicably. However, there is widespread dissatisfaction with the delay in the administration of justice by the court. It is for this reason that mobile courts which grant speedy justice delivery are very much appreciated. This is because the normal process of trial in the court does not apply to mobile courts.

What is a Mobile Court?

Before defining a mobile court, it is necessary to define the individual words. According to Black’s Law Dictionary, a court is ‘a governmental body consisting of one or more judges who sit to adjudicate disputes and administer justice.’1 Judges usually deliver judgement in a fixed place referred to as the courtroom.

The term ‘mobile’ is the ability to move (either a person or a thing) from one place to another. The joining of both words, therefore, means that a mobile court allows the court to hear and decide on matters in changeable or moveable locations. According to Hosen and Ferdous, ‘mobile court connotes a special arrangement of the court which moves from place to place, as opposed to, the court in the enclosed place, to adjudicate laws for the ulterior purpose of ensuring justice.’2 Mobile courts afford citizens access to quick justice delivery and this is the reason many countries even Nigeria, have adopted the system.

Establishment and Legality of Mobile Courts in Nigeria

The constitution of Nigeria which is the supreme law of the land and from which all other laws derives its power vested all judicial powers of the federation in the court3. The constitution further listed all the courts in the federation, to which there was no provision for mobile courts. However, it empowered the law-making body or the legislative arm of government which is the National Assembly or State House of Assembly of each state to establish courts other than those already listed4.

Accordingly, S 10 (8) of the Federal Road Safety Act 2007 provides that ‘The Chief Judge of a State or the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja shall have the power to establish special or mobile courts for the purpose of speedy trial of traffic offenders.’ Therefore, it means that mobile courts are a product of enabling laws and are therefore legal.

While the Chief Judge of a state has the power to set up a mobile court, mobile courts are often presided by the magistrates as appointed by the Chief Judge5. This is not surprising because magistrate courts are a court of summary jurisdiction created to deliver efficient justice.

In the same vein, mobile courts which are presided over by magistrates are aimed at delivering speedy judgement. It is, therefore, safe to draw a conclusion that a Mobile Court sits as a Magistrate Court for the purposes of dispensing justice speedily in special cases such as traffic offences, and sanitation. A similar procedure of the magistrate court will thus be applicable in a mobile court.

Offences to Which Mobile Courts Have Jurisdiction

The mobile court has become popular due to its summary discharge of trials with respect to traffic offences, environmental/sanitation offences, and offences relating to curfew violations. The Federal Road Safety Act of 20076 made provision for the establishment of special or mobile courts for the trial of traffic offenders. Anyone in violation of these offences can either be fined, imprisoned or both upon trial and conviction by the mobile court.

In keeping up with the provision of this Act and to ensure sanity on the road, The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) in the dispensation of its functions books erring motorists in violation of traffic laws and sends them to the mobile court for trial.

In 2016, the Lagos State Government, inaugurated the Special Offences (Mobile) Court to summarily deal with growing cases of traffic and environmental abuses in the state7. Under criminal law, a person is only guilty of an offence if it is known to law or prescribed in a written law.8 Hence, ‘The Lagos State Road Traffic Law, 2012, Street Trading and Illegal Markets Prohibition Law, 2003, Lagos State Traffic Management Law (2018) and the Lagos State Environmental Sanitation Law, 2000 are some of the laws that provide for traffic offences and thus gives mobile court’s jurisdiction to hear them.

Some of these offences include; driving against traffic, refusing to obey traffic signs like zebra crossings and traffic lights indications, individuals/citizens crossing the highways where pedestrian bridges are provided, driving on the BRT by non-designated vehicles and parking at undesignated places, commercial buses on motion with their doors open.

Mobile courts are not only used to try erring motorists. Mobile courts also hear matters that have to do with environmental abuse. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the government passed various laws in an attempt to curb the spread of the disease.

The laws mandated everyone to wear a face mask, maintain social distancing in a public environment and banned public gatherings of over 50 people. Special taskforces were set up in various states to ensure this was followed and where citizens were found to violate the law, they were arrested and tried by mobile courts.

In Abuja, Eagle Square which is famous for hosting concerts, rallies, and even presidential inaugurations become home to a mobile court where offenders of the Covid-19 rules were prosecuted9. Many other states like Kwara and Anambra also set up mobile courts to try Covid-19 violators.

In conclusion, the use of mobile courts is a good contribution to the criminal justice system. This is because it tackles the delay with which justice is delivered. No one should be unnecessarily delayed or denied access to justice and so, a system that gives its citizen speedy access to justice should be welcomed and embraced.

1 Bryan A. Garner (ed), Black’s Law Dictionary, 2004 Thomson West, St Paul Minnesota Pg 378.

2 Hosen, G. D and Ferdous, S.Y (2010) ‘The Role of Mobile Courts in the Enforcement of Laws in Bangledesh’ The Northern University Journal of Law, Vol 1

3 S 6 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) as amended

4 S 6 (5) ibid

5 S 60 (1) Magistrates’ Court Law of Anambra State, 1991

6 S 10 (8) Federal Road Safety Act 2007

7 https://www.vanguardngr.com/2016/02/lagos-launches-mobile-court-for-traffic-environmental-offenders/

8 S 36 (12) 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) as amended

9 https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-health-coronavirus-nigeria-court-idUSKBN2B3160

How to Get an Affidavit Online in Nigeria

how to obtain affidavit online in Nigeria

Gone are the days when you have to visit the Court in person in order to obtain an affidavit. The Oyo State High Court of Justice has launched an e-affidavit system in Nigeria which means that you can create an affidavit online without visiting the Court. The platform, known as OyoCoMis, was launched in May 2022 and has been very efficient.

While outside the country, I was able to use the e-affidavit system to create affidavits while working on some clients’ instructions and the process was really smooth.

1. Does one need to reside in Oyo State in order to use the OyoCoMis electronic affidavit system?

The good news is that in many cases, you would be able to use an affidavit obtained in any High Court in Nigeria for many purposes that require affidavits. This means that you do not have to travel to a specific state to obtain an affidavit. In other words, an affidavit obtained in Lagos State for instance could be legally used in Abuja FCT.

A peculiar circumstance where you might need to depose to an affidavit and file it in a specific state is where the affidavit is part of a court process for litigation. In such a case, it is quite logical to depose to an affidavit and file it together with the court processes in that state.

What is an affidavit?

An affidavit is simply a written statement declared on oath. The person making the statement swears on oath before someone who is authorized to administer oaths (such as a commissioner for oaths in the Court or notary public). The sworn document (affidavit) is usually required by law for several purposes.

You can use the Oyo State e-affidavit system to obtain an affidavit online for various purposes.

2. OyoCoMis has the following affidavit templates which would make creating your affidavit quite easy:

  • Statutory declaration of age
  • Declaration of marriage
  • Change of signature
  • Affidavit of bachelorhood
  • Affidavit of spinsterhood
  • Correction of name on birth certificate
  • Biometric update
  • Correction of SIM registration details
  • Change of vehicle engine number
  • Change of name (click here to see a step-by-step guide on how to change your name in Nigeria)
  • Change of ownership (vehicle)
  • Confirmation of name
  • Correction of name
  • Correction of date of birth
  • Rearrangement of name
  • Loss of passport
  • Damaged Passport
  • Illiterate declaration of age
  • Illiterate change of name
  • Affidavit of divorce
  • Loss of SIM
  • Affidavit of single mother
  • Proof of death
  • Change of signature
  • Good conduct
  • Vehicle plate number
  • Bidding
  • Deletion from quota
  • Affidavit of consent
  • Affidavit of loss
  • Next of kin

If you cannot find a specific template for your affidavit requirement on OyoCoMis e-affidavit platform, you can also use the General Form option which you can customize to fit your specific need.

3. Steps for obtaining an affidavit online in Nigeria through the Oyo State e-affidavit system

obtain an affidavit online in Nigeria

You should prepare the following for the e-affidavit:

1. The statements or facts that need to be on the affidavit.

2. Create your signature specimen – You can sign on a piece of white paper and scan it. You will be required to upload this on the platform during the e-affidavit process. If you have a touchscreen device that allows you to sign electronically, you can also use that instead.

3. A scanned passport photograph.

4. Your payment card.

When you are ready go to https://comis.oyostatejudiciary.oy.gov.ng/account.html and create an account.

  • After signing in, click on ‘New Filings’ in the top navigation menu and select ‘Affidavits’ on the page.
  • You will be required to fill in the affidavit template with your name, occupation, address, location, and the averments (statements or facts that will be on your affidavit).
  • You will also need to upload your scanned passport photograph and signature.
  • After completing the affidavit template you will be required to make a payment (one thousand Naira).
  • After making the payment, your affidavit will be queued for commissioning and you will receive a confirmation email once it has been commissioned.
  • You can then click on ‘Affidavits’ under ‘Filings’ on the OyoCoMis platform to download the commissioned affidavit and print it.

4. Lawyers can file suits in Oyo State High Court online through the OyoCoMis platform

Apart from e-affidavit, OyoCoMis has many other electronic filing systems that are very useful, particularly for legal practitioners. This includes filing of suits online, registering a lis pendens, etc. Note that to create a professional account as a lawyer on OyoCoMis, you need to use your Nigerian Bar email address (ends with @nigerianbar.ng).

Court Jurisdiction in Fundamental Rights

enforcement of fundamental human rights in Nigeria

In the case of Insp. Gabriel of the C.O.P. Monitoring Unit Lagos v Ukpabio & Ors1(2022) LPELR-57032(SC). the Nigerian Supreme Court had to determine whether the  Federal High Court has jurisdiction to entertain, hear and determine actions on fundamental human rights like State High Courts.

Which court has jurisdiction for the enforcement of fundamental rights in Nigeria?

Section 46 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) provides as follows: ‘Any person who alleges that any of the provisions of this Chapter has been, is being or likely to be contravened in any State in relation to him may apply to a High Court in that State for redress’.

The Nigerian Supreme Court interpreted ‘High Court’ as meaning both the Federal High Court and the State High Court.

Thus, the Federal High Court and State High Court have concurrent jurisdiction to entertain, hear and determine fundamental rights enforcement cases in Nigeria.

You might also be interested in what constitutes a breach of the right to a fair hearing.

References

  • 1
    (2022) LPELR-57032(SC).

What Constitutes Abuse of Court Process

What constitutes abuse of Court process

Abuse of Court process generally refers to frivolous proceedings. It usually results from the deliberate use of a court proceeding to harass or oppress a party.

There is no exhaustive list of what constitutes an abuse of Court process. ‘It is of infinite variety and it does not appear that the category can be closed’.1CPC & Anor v Ombugadu & Anor (2013) LPELR 21007(SC).

Abuse of Court process may be occasioned where there is no iota of law supporting a Court process that has been filed.2Saraki & Anor v Kotoye (1992) LPELR-3016(SC) 35 The abuse lies, among other things, in the inconvenience, the other party has been put in defending a recklessly incompetent process.

In the case of Adegbanke v Ojelabi & Ors (2021) LPELR-54992 (SC), the Nigerian Supreme Court held that “There is said to be an abuse of the process of the Court when a party improperly uses the issue of the judicial process to the irritation and annoyance of his opponent, such as instituting a multiplicity of actions on the same subject matter, against the same opponent on the same issues …”.

The Supreme Court held in the case of Adamu v Nigerian Airforce & Anor3(2022) LPELR 56587(SC). that ‘abuse is a fundamental vice and it is always punished with a dismissal order’.

Where there is a right to institute an action, a multiplicity of actions on the same issue, subsequent actions (not the first one) will usually be deemed as abuse of Court process. ‘The abuse lies in the multiplicity and manner of the exercise of the right, rather than the exercise of the right, per se.’4Saraki & Anor v Kotoye (1992) LPELR-3016(SC)

Below are some leading Nigerian cases on abuse of Court process:

  1. African Reinsurance Corporation v JDP Construction Ltd. (2003) LPELR -215 (SC)
  2. Amaefule v The State (1988) 2 NWLR (Pt. 75) 156
  3. Edet vs. State (1988) 2 NWLR (Pt. 75) 156.
  4. Okafor v Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Anambra State (1991) 6 NWLR (Pt. 200) 659.
  5. Messrs NV scheep v The MV “S-Araz” (2000) 15 NWLR (Pt. 691) 622.
  6. Saraki & Anor v Kotoye (1992) LPELR-3016(SC).

If you need to discuss a legal issue with a lawyer, you can book an online consultation (video meeting) through the form below:

[bookly-form]

References

  • 1
    CPC & Anor v Ombugadu & Anor (2013) LPELR 21007(SC).
  • 2
    Saraki & Anor v Kotoye (1992) LPELR-3016(SC) 35
  • 3
    (2022) LPELR 56587(SC).
  • 4
    Saraki & Anor v Kotoye (1992) LPELR-3016(SC)

Tips For Bar Part 1 Course in Nigeria

Essential tips for Bar Part 1 Course in Nigeria
Tips for Bar Part 1 Course in Nigeria
Essential tips for Bar Part 1 course in Nigeria

If you are reading this post, you have probably completed a bachelor’s degree in law in a foreign country or have nearly completed it. My aim in this post is to give you tips that would make the Bar Part 1 course in Nigeria a smooth experience for you.

As you might already know, you would be required to complete the Bar Part 1 course in Nigeria before you can be admitted to the Nigerian Bar to practice law. Although there is an exception, that is not the purpose of this post. If you are interested in knowing about the exception, see this post.

Nigerian Law school tips for the Bar Part 1 course

1. Apply on time for the Bar part 1 course

The earlier the better. Don’t wait till the last minute. Application for the Bar Part 1 course is usually made Online at the website of the Nigerian Law School.

2. Ensure that your diploma and transcript are sent to the Nigerian Law School on time for the Bar Part 1 course

As part of your application process for the Bar Part 1 course, you would be required to have your Bachelor’s diploma and transcript sent to the Nigerian Law School.

One problem you might encounter is that some universities do not use courier services for sending diplomas and transcripts. They might use standard mail instead. In such a case, it is not unusual for transcripts to get lost somewhere in transit. You should try to bear in mind that it is your responsibility to ensure that your transcript is received by the law school in time.

After receiving confirmation from your university that your transcript has been dispatched, contact the law school to ensure that they have received it. If they didn’t, have it resent by your university and monitor delivery again. In my own case, I had it sent a couple of times before it was finally received.

3. Nigerian law School campus for Bar Part 1 course

The Bar Part 1 Course usually takes place at the FCT Campus of the Nigerian Law School in Bwari. Tuition fee usually covers accommodation fees for everyone but you can opt to live outside of campus if you wish. For instance, if you are an FCT resident, you might prefer to stay in your house and go for lectures as a day student.

3.1 What to expect at the Nigerian Law School Abuja campus

  • You would have a roommate. Each room is usually shared by two people.
  • There are separate hostels for male and female students.
  • You cannot visit students of the opposite sex in their rooms but there are common rooms where you can meet and socialise.
  • You won’t have a kitchen and free meals are not served on the law school campus (not part of the tuition fee). However, there are canteens in the hostels and there is also the ‘mammy market’ with canteens where you can buy food and eat.
  • There is usually a standby generator on campus so you need not worry about long power failures or going with a small generator.

Bar Part 1 examination

The Bar Part 1 exams are usually based on substantive law similar to your Bachelor’s degree modules. The modules for the Bart Part 1 course, however, will be based on Nigerian law. The purpose is to familiarise you with the Nigerian legal system and also prepare you for the Bar Part II course.

Bar Part 1 courses

According to the Nigerian Law School as of 2022, the following courses are compulsory for the Bar Part 1:

  1. Constitutional Law
  2. Commercial Law
  3. Land Law
  4. Law of contract
  5. Equity & Trust
  6. Law of evidence
  7. Law of Torts
  8. Criminal Law

Bar Part 1 fee

Bar Part 1 fee varies depending on whether you are a Nigerian citizen or a foreigner.

As of 2022, the Bar Part 1 fee for Nigerian students is 240,000 Naira for Nigerian citizens and 1,380,000 Naira for foreigners.

Social activity

Nigerian Law School campus is in Bwari, about a 45-minute drive from Abuja city. Bwari is a lovely town with places to hang out and Abuja city is also very lively with many places to hang out and have fun.

How to become a Nigerian Citizen

How to become a Nigerian citizen
How to become a Nigerian citizen

The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 provides grounds for which a person can become a citizen of Nigeria. Under the 1999 Constitution, a person can become a citizen of Nigeria, by birth, registration, naturalisation, and through honourary conferment of citizenship.

Below are elaborate details on how to become a Nigerian citizen:

1. You can become a Nigerian citizen by birth

According to Section 25 of the Nigeria Constitution, you can become a Nigerian citizen by birth in the following ways;

  1. If you were born in Nigeria before Independence Day (October 1st 1960) and one of your parents or grandparents belongs to an indigenous community in Nigeria.
  2. You can also become a Nigerian citizen if you were born after October 1st, 1960 and your parent or any of your grandparents is a citizen of Nigeria.
  3. Lastly, you can become a Nigerian citizen if you were born outside Nigeria and one of your parents is a Nigerian citizen.

2. You can become a Nigerian citizen by registration

According to Section 26 of the Nigeria Constitution, you can become a Nigerian Citizen by registration if:

  1. You were born outside Nigeria by parents who are not Nigerian citizens but one of your grandparents is a Nigerian.
  2. A non-Nigerian woman who is married to a Nigerian man can become a Nigerian citizen by registration.

The implication of the above is that a non-Nigerian man who is married to a Nigerian woman cannot become a Nigerian Citizen by registration. This section of the Constitution has been subjected to gender-bias criticism and might be amended in future.

3. You can become a Nigerian citizen through naturalisation

Section 27 of the Constitution states that anyone who desires to become a Nigerian citizen by naturalization must apply to the President of Nigeria for a Certificate of Naturalization. Such application must show that:

  1. The Applicant is of good character.
  2. Applicant shows the desire to be domiciled in Nigeria.
  3. The applicant shows in the opinion of the Governor of the State where he intends to reside that he has assimilated to the way of life of the people in that part of the country and that he is acceptable to the local community there.
  4. Applicant is capable of contributing to the development of Nigeria.
  5. The applicant has taken an oath of allegiance under the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.
  6. Before the application, the applicant has lived continuously in Nigeria for 15 years, or has resided in Nigeria for a continuous period of 12 months and immediately before the 12 months had within 20 years lived in Nigeria for a combined period of not less than 15 years.

It will interest you to note that in the year 2009, over 236 individuals became Nigerian citizens by naturalization from 50 different countries, and the number is rising each year.

4. Honourary citizenship

Though not enshrined in the Constitution, Nigeria citizenship can be given to a person as a mark of honor by the President. In the year 2005, President Olusegun Obasanjo conferred honorary citizenship of Nigeria on Wesley Snipes, a famous Hollywood actor during his three days visit to Nigeria.

How to apply for Nigerian citizenship

Although the 1999 Constitution states that application may be made to the president or governor in some cases, note that this does not literally mean that you have to give your application to the president or governor in person. If you are already in Nigeria and you want to apply for Nigerian citizenship, you can visit the Nigeria Immigration Office in the state where you reside. If you are abroad, you can visit or contact the Nigeria embassy in your country of residence or the one responsible for your country. You can find out the embassy responsible for your country through the Nigeria Immigration Service website.

Can a foreign lawyer practise law in Nigeria?

Can a foreign lawyer practice law in Nigeria?
Can a foreign lawyer practice law in Nigeria?
Can a foreign lawyer practise law in Nigeria?

The purpose of this article is to address the following question: can a foreign lawyer practise law in Nigeria? The article examines in particular, whether foreign lawyers from commonwealth countries can practise law in Nigeria.

Who can practise law in Nigeria?

The provisions of Section 2 and 24 of the Legal Practitioners Act provides that: only those whose name is on the roll of the Supreme Court are qualified to practise as a lawyer in Nigeria. The implication of this is that a foreign lawyer cannot practice as a lawyer in Nigeria. However, Section 2(2)a of the Act provides an exception to this. The section provides that the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) can allow a person to practice as a barrister (appear in court) in Nigeria for a particular proceeding. Such person must make an application to the CJN for the specific proceeding. The application can be made by a person who is qualified to practice as a barrister in a country that bears similarity with Nigeria Legal System.

Who is a foreign lawyer?

For the purpose of this article, a foreign lawyer is a legal practitioner that has been admitted to practise law in another country other than Nigeria.

A foreign lawyer as an arbitrator in Nigeria

Arbitration is a legal proceeding in Nigeria that involves helping parties resolve their dispute without recourse to the court. The Arbitration and Conciliation Act (ACA) LFN, 2004 governs arbitration in Nigeria. The ACA consists of 3 parts. These are: domestic arbitration, conciliation, and international arbitration. The Act equally contains Arbitration Rules in the First Schedule.

It is important to state that Nigeria ACA is an adaptation of United Nations Commission on International Trade Laws (UNCITRAL) 1976 with very few amendments. Of importance to us is Article 4 of UNCITRAL which states that parties to arbitration proceedings “may be represented or assisted by persons of their choice”. While domesticating the law, the said Article 4 of UNCITRAL which now reads as Article 4 of ACA states as follows “parties may be represented or assisted by legal practitioners of their choice”.

The change in word from persons to legal practitioners implies that under the Nigeria Arbitration legal regime, only a legal practitioner that is qualified under Section 2 & 24 of LPA is entitled to represent parties in a domestic arbitration in Nigeria. An exception is where such person is granted a warrant of exception by Chief Justice for that purpose.

International arbitration in Nigeria

There is a checklist in Section 57(2) of the ACA in regard to when an arbitration in Nigeria will be considered as international arbitration. Section 57(2)d states that parties have an unfettered right to term their arbitration as international without recourse to the nature of the contract. That is, with or without the contract having international flavor in it.

The implication of the above is that by parties inserting in their contract that arbitrations arising from it is international, they are excluded from the restricting influence of Article 4 of the Arbitration Rules. The arbitration proceedings will be regulated by any international Rules of their choice. A foreign lawyer could thus sit as an arbitrator in Nigeria without being enrolled as a legal practitioner in Nigeria. Such lawyer would also not be required to obtain warrant from the Chief Justice.

Conclusion

Foreign-trained lawyers are required to go through the mandatory Bar Part 1 exam at Nigerian Law School where they will be exposed to the Nigeria Legal System courses. Upon completion, they will be qualified to be admitted to the Bar Part II program. Upon successfully passing the Bar final exam, such a foreign-trained lawyer will be admitted to the Nigerian Bar and become eligible to practise law in Nigeria.