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I hate it when I move heaven and earth to ensure I get to Court early only to find out that the court will not be sitting or in other words the judge will not be coming. Numerous times, I have driven in the Lagos traffic for 3 hours just to ensure I get to court well before 9 am or travelled to another state only to hear the court registrar address counsel and inform us that the court will not be sitting. It hurts and I remember a counsel who expressed his displeasure after having come all the way from Abuja to court in Lagos and be informed that the court will not sit, he had expended money for travel and even hotel lodging.
If you are in litigation practice or a litigant, you must have experienced this. There have been many persons who stay longer in jail, prison or detention just because the court has not sat to determine their bail applications and they thus have to stay back in detention for many more weeks awaiting another adjournment date.
Another instance, is a client who hires a private plane on the insistence of his lawyer to ferry the firm’s team from Abuja to court in Lagos only for everyone to get to court and learn the judge will not be coming, how frustrating will that be to the client and if such client gets judgment in his favour eventually, what will be the value of such victory to such a client who has expended such expense in the course of litigating his matter before the court.
Sadly the judiciary doesn’t seem to care, I have never heard it discussed in symposiums before, neither has there been any focus on solving this issue, apparently the judges do not even see it as an issue. Why should a counsel or litigant spend time and money to get to court only to find out that the court will not sit. Doesn’t this practice increase the cost of litigation exponentially? The courts have a duty to ensure a speedy and cost effective dispensation of justice and not to mount unnecessary pressure and costs on litigants.
I am using this medium to urge the courts to save litigants and counsel from the pains and cost they cause by not giving prior information that the court will not be sitting. And all they need to do is send a text message to counsel. A text message cost only four naira and I am sure that a court with a daily budget of 500 naira will have enough funds to text all counsel on the cause list to inform them that the court will not be sitting. I don’t know if this is too much to ask from the judiciary or maybe they are too busy to even care.