Plans are afoot in the Anambra state judiciary to lay off all lay judges of the customary courts in the state.
This was disclosed by the state’s Chief Judge, Justice Peter Umeadi in an interview with journalists in Awka, the state capital.
Presently, the state practices a jurist/panel customary court system, where the President, a legal practitioner is usually the head of the panel along with two supporting lay judges but must be knowledgeable in the customs and traditions of the particular localities.
According to the Chief Judge, all lay customary court judges in the state’s 21 councils would be replaced with legal practitioners.
He pointed out that, “…the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) would embark on replacing lay members of the Customary Courts with legal practitioners.
“The demand to pursue the needed legislation has been forwarded to the Hon. Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice by the Judicial Service Commission.
“This is sequel to a resolution unanimously passed by the Judicial Service Commission at its regular 216 meeting on 8th August, 2014.
“This move would offer a two-fold benefit of strengthening the Customary Courts personnel and at the same time providing choice opportunities for our legal practitioners who graduate each year”.
It could be in the spirit of streamlining activities that Umeadi said the JSC resolved to close down Customary Court of Appeal in the state as a result of redundancy arising from lack of appeal cases.
Already, Justice Umeadi disclosed, the resolution has been forwarded to Gov Willie Obiano, for him to forward an Executive bill to the state Assembly to that effect.
The bill, when passed, the President and Judges of the Customary Court of Appeal would be transferred to the state High Courts.
He revealed also that the resolution had been sent to “my Lord, the Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman National Judicial Council for his information”.
From Chuks Collins, Awka