LAGOS MAGISTRACY LAW: NBA FAULTS SUSPENSION, FILES JOINDER APPLICATION
The Lagos Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association on Thursday faulted the suspension of Lagos Magistrate Court Law 2009 by Justice Aishat Opesanwo of the Lagos High Court.
In a Motion on Notice filed by its lawyer, Chief Theodore Ezeobi (SAN), the NBA urged the court to join the association as an interested party in a suit by a Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Jiti Ogunye.
Lawyer to Ogunye, Mr Gbenmiga Ogunleye had filed the action, asking the court to set aside the new magistracy law on the grounds that it was unconstitutional.
But five members of the Lagos branch, Chief Olufemi Daramola, Olasupo Olajide, Bob Ijioma, Amaka Aneke and Phil Omorodion, had filed the joinder application on behalf of the branch and claimed that the suspension of the new law would affect the interest of its members.
In a 12- paragraph affidavit in support of the motion deposed to by Bob Ijioma, the association stated that a resolution was passed on March 8, 2010 during its monthly meetings of the Bar that the NBA Lagos branch should be joined as defendant in the suit.
The deponent further claimed that the Lagos branch of the NBA was consulted in the making of the new law, insisting that the suspension of the law had affected over 6,000 of its members that are practicing in the Magistrate courts.
He added that the Magistrate Court Law which the claimant sought to nullify had liberated the magistrates and made attractive options available for lawyers in Lagos state.
He stated further that the orders sought by the claimant would negatively affect millions of their clients, hence the need to join them as party in the suit.
He said, The issues in the suit cannot be completely and effectively determined without the applicants being joined as defendants in this suit. That it will be in the interest of justice to join the applicants as defendants in this suit '
Meanwhile, the Chairman of NBA, Lagos Branch, Chijioke Okoli, has confirmed that his branch has filed an application to be joined as defendant at the Lagos High Court.
Okoli, who stated this during a press briefing in Lagos on Thursday, stated that there was no perfect law in the world, adding that it was better to amend the law where necessary rather that asking for its nullification.
He said, 'Its only the Bible that cannot be amended, once a law is made it can be amended. We are disturbed by the order made by the court suspending the law. You don't have to be lawyer to know that you can't have two laws in operation at the same time. The 2003 Magistrate Court Law which the court ordered should replace the new law as to the best of my knowledge had ceased to exist. I do not think that by an interim order it can be resurrected'