By Moji Eniola
Ikeja – As part of measures to ensure effective dispensation of justice, Justice Opeyemi Oke, the Chief Judge of Lagos State, has sworn-in 16 Presidents and 34 members of the Customary Court in the state.
The swearing-in of 50 Customary Court Presidents and members brings the number of Customary Presidents and Members in Lagos to 195.
The Chief Judge in her speech at the ceremony, congratulated the new appointees and enjoined them to serve in their new roles with the highest level of integrity.
“Customary Courts form the formal justice system closest to the grassroots and are available to over 70 per cent of the people of the State, especially people who reside in the lower tier administrative units.
“Following from a thorough screening conducted by the Judicial Service Commission, you emerged as the best candidates.
“This was based on your track record, integrity, ability and qualifications, and were therefore appointed without any undue meddling whether externally or otherwise.
“It is therefore my earnest expectation that you will discharge your duties optimally and with the highest sense of duty owed to the good people of Lagos State,” she said.
Justice Oke also gave an insight into the type of matters that the Customary Court Presidents and Members can entertain in their courts under the newly amended Lagos State Customary Law 2018.
“Customary Courts in Lagos State have jurisdiction to entertain matrimonial matters arising from marriages solemnized under native law and custom, issues of inheritance not exceeding N500,000.00 and civil bye-laws.
“On criminal matters, the Lagos State Customary Court Law of Lagos State 2015 (as amended) expanded the criminal jurisdiction of the Customary Court.
“It now includes offences created under a bye-law of a Local Government and criminal causes and matters set out in Part Two of the First Schedule to the Law.
“Customary Courts have also been empowered to impose a fine which shall not exceed N50,000 in the case of an individual and N500,000 in the case of a corporate offender.
“Without an iota of doubt, the recently amended law has ushered in greater responsibilities to be discharged by Presidents of the Customary Court,” the Chief Judge said.
Earlier, in her address of welcome, Mrs Olufunmilayo Salami, the Executive Secretary of the Lagos State Judicial Service Commission, hailed the innovations of the newly amended Lagos State Customary Court Law.
According to Salami the amended law ensures that law graduates now oversee proceedings at the Customary Court.
“The amendment has compulsorily accommodated legal practitioners and law graduates as Presidents of the Court, and graduates as Members.
“It has made provision for Criminal Jurisdiction in criminal causes and matters as conferred under any bye-law passed by a Local Government Area or Local Council Development in the State,” she said.
In her remarks, Mrs Margaret Adewale, one of the newly appointed Customary Court Presidents, thanked the Chief Judge for the judicial reforms which made their appointment possible.
“Thank you for giving us the privilege to serve Lagos State Government though most of us here are retired but not tired.
“I assure you that we will perform our duties with diligence. I also want to commend the Chief Judge for her reform particularly the one that brought us here,” she said.