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Lockdown: FCTA Mobile Courts, Implementation And Expectations

The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) inaugurated and activated mobile courts to try violators of the lockdown directives. These courts are located at Mpape, Dantata bridge Airport Road and AYA roundabout.

Accordingly, defaulting individuals if found guilty will be fined and sentenced to community service for a period of 7 days. The fines are as follows;

Tricycle- 7,000
Motorcycle- 7,000
Vehicle- 20,000
Truck- 50,000

In a video on the official page of the FCTA, the FCT police are to prosecute early morning joggers who were arrested on Thursday, 16th April 2020 in violation of the presidential directive. Some of the joggers claimed ignorance of any restriction against jogging .
Watch video here

According to reports reaching Lex Community NG, the Chairman of NBA Bwari branch was at the Eagle Square and he witnessed the proceeding of the AEPB prosecution of the defendants of Covid 19 who were arrested for violating the regulation. It was reported that defendants were not given opportunity to defend themselves or have access to their lawyers. He raised this with some magistrates and the AEPB prosecutors in the proceeding. Instead of addressing this crucial observation and taking steps on how the process would be made credible they became unnecessarily hostile.

The branch chairman who has been in consultation to the FCT administration, and judiciary said that there is need for the involvement of NBA to make the process credible. He is of the opinion that there cannot be a judicial process where the defendants are not given choice to defend themselves. The process is premeditated towards the conclusion that any one that is arrested is guilty. Even if the offences are strict liability offences, justice must be seen to be done.

There are also concerns by some legal practitioners that members of NBA within Abuja should be given general waiver and such waiver should suffice if any lawyer presents his or her NBA ID Card or any other credible official document that can identify one in that respect.

According to Ejiofor Onwuaso Esq., this application for waiver has become expedient in view of the recent guidelines issued by the Chief Judge of High Court of the FCT designating some judges of the High Court and Magistrates within the FCT jurisdiction to sit during this period of the lock down proclamation. Since Lawyers are by necessary implication bound to appear before these designated emergency Courts, it will be most embarrassing if any colleague is prevented from attending such court sitting or arrested and prosecuted summarily in the mobile courts in the course of carrying out their legitimate duties. It has become necessary to include the legal profession as essential services covered under the exemption so as to protect members from undue harassment in the hands of the law enforcement agents who may not be civil in enforcing the lock down directive.

Another Lawyer, Johnny Agim Esq, is of the view that Lawyers that can show proof to the authorities that they are on essential or official assignment have always been allowed access to move unhindered. He said that some courts have been sitting and Lawyers have been attending without hindrance. However, in view of our peculiar circumstance as a people, it is tempting to want to agree with the proposition to make a formal representation for an official pronouncement to be made in this regard seeing that as a people and especially some of our security personnel often tend to act irrationally even when they are told in black and white on what to and not do.

Mr Agim added that, ideally and considering the potent challenge before us, it would have been just proper to allow the status quo remain and Lawyers also observe these health advisories and show good example to public that this pandemic is real and observe and play by the rules however painful as it might be, to help put a stop to the spread so we can go back to our normal life.

Lex Community
Author: Lex Community

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