By Olalekan Awojodu
The President of the Court of Appeal Justice Monica B. Dongban-Mensem Monday condemned heavy dockets comprising over 4,630 Appeals and 6,207 Motions pending in the Lagos Division as at December 1, 2020.
Mensem made the disclosure in her remarks, during the opening day of the Court of Appeal’s first Working Retreat and Annual Conference of the Justices of the Court of Appeal.
The Conference is themed; Court of Appeal: Challenges and the Way Forward is held between December 7-10.
Giving a breakdown, Mensem stated that there are a total of 345 appeals, comprising 289 Commercial Appeals; 10 Human Right Appeals; and 46 Criminal Appeals which are scheduled for hearing.
According to her, the 345 scheduled Appeals for hearing represents only 8% of the total number of Appeals in Lagos Division.
Against the backdrop, the President noted that although the task ahead may appear daunting, assuring that she was resolute in her determination to decongest the Court.
She said, “Undoubtedly, the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, is a critical Division within the Court. It sits at the commercial nerve centre of our great Nation, Nigeria.
“Despite this, the Division has continued to experience timeless delay in the hearing of appeals before it, largely due to the volume of appeals in its docket and the limited number of Justices available to hear them,”
“The retreat is expected to feature special Court sittings by all Justices of the Court of Appeal from all the division of the court because on assumption of office, i discovered that majority of these Appeals, had either been abandoned or purposely left to linger endlessly by mischievous and flippant actors in the litigation process.
While lamenting the spate of stalling of the judicial process, she added: “The retreat is to send out a warning to the public that the Court will no longer be a dumping ground for those who seek to hamper justice delivery in Nigeria.
“It is also regrettable to note that a good number of these appeals were filed with the aim of stalling the judicial process.
‘This situation must certainly not be allowed to continue. We have come out to demonstrate our abhorrence by taking the bull by the horn,” the Justice added.
“Also incorporated in these special sessions are enlightening and educative presentations from erudite and educative personalities and professionals such as Mrs. Folake Solanke, SAN, who is the First Woman to attain the Rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria as well as being among the first indigenous publishers of a Law Report in Nigeria.
Also speaking at the occasion, professor Taiwo Osipitan SAN, who represented the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, called for the review for the qualifications of senior advocates, regretting that most of the frivolious applications at the Appeal Court were being filed by lawyers in order to meet with the prerequisite to become a member of the inner bar.