The acting President of the Court of the Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem has rolled out new guidelines to enhance expeditious hearing of pending cases while still ensuring safety in court and election petition tribunals.
The action is in furtherance of earlier notices for the enforcement of the directive issued by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Tanko Muhammad, which is in tandem with the Covid-19 Regulations 2020, made pursuant to Quarantine Act 2004 by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari.
In order to reduce the time spent in argument in court, the new practice direction encouraged lawyers to use their letterhead paper and clearly identify all relevant details such as: their names Clearly stating which party they are appearing for and to indicate their designation such as; Attorney General of the Federation, State Counsel, Senior Advocate, etc.
The new guidelines equally requested lawyers to clearly state when the briefs are filed, what date with Appellant(s), Respondent(s) (where multiple parties) – each must be properly identified.
They are to properly identify the processes filed by date of filing and date of the process, including preliminary objections (if any); Suit Number/Appeal No. — to be clearly stated and name of the party.
Also, the date of Judgment and Court – example: Judgment of the Federal Capital Territory (FC) High Court Holden at Kado, or Judgment of the Kogi High Court Holden at Lokoja, or Judgment of the Federal High Court Holden at Ondo Town. Judgment of Federal High Court, State High Court, Industrial Court, etc indicating place of the Court and the date of filing of the appeal.
Other particulars to be supplied by lawyers according to the guidelines include date records were transmitted (if any as stamped by the Court of Appeal Registry); reply brief (if any); Cross-Appeal/Cross Respondent; date of service – that is date on which process was received by the other party.
Justice Dongban-Mensem directed that all these details shall be submitted electronically to the office of the Chief Registrar for onward transmission and copies must be sent to the respective DCRs.
She noted that the use of electronic channels of communication reduces the amount of talking and time expended over a matter in court.
“As we do know, the court is an enclosed place so much talk with its characteristic spewing of saliva predisposes both court workers and the public to health hazards especially in this time of menacing Covid-19 pandemic.
“When learned Counsel are served motions which they have No Objection to, they should simply send their No Objection Notice to the Court. (See Court of Appeal Rule 2016).
” Where learned Counsel are far away and unable to attend Court, they should ask their local representatives to stand in for them.
Meanwhile, for the election petition tribunals, the new guidelines provides that “where witnesses are taken, persons who are not witnesses before the court shall not be admitted.
“The Chairman and members of the tribunal shall determine the number of people allowable in court at any particular sitting but should not be more than 20 people, depending on the size of the court hall.
“All learned Counsel are advised to put into maximum use the Court of Appeal Facebook page – Court of Appeal Abuja, Nigeria”.
The acting PCA appealed that all messages placed on the Court of Appeal Facebook page must also be posted/sent/shared via social media law platforms for prompt attention.
“Let’s remember to observe the protocols on Covid-19 like constant washing of hands and use of disinfectants,” she admonished.