Alex Enumah in Abuja
Acting President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, has directed a temporary shutdown of proceedings at the Lagos, Ogun and Abuja Divisions of the Court.
The closure, which is for the first 14 days, is to enable the court in the three divisions to observe the lockdown declared by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Dongban-Mensem, in an operational directive issued on March 30, 2020 and sighted by THISDAY, however, enjoined other divisions to carry on with the judicial duties in line with the directive issued by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Muhammad on reducing the spread of the COVID-19.
“Following the 14 day lockdown directive of His Excellency, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, with effect from 30/03/2020, I hereby issue an interim practice directive that all matters pending before the court sitting in the Federal Capital Territory, Lagos and Ogun states shall cease in compliance thereof.
“Meanwhile, all court proceedings for states not mentioned in the presidential lockdown directive of 30/03/2020 shall continue in line with the directives issued by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice, Dr. Tanko Muhammad.
“The Bench and the Bar are enjoined to strictly observe the guidelines on social distancing as directed by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
“Counsel and litigants present in court should be limited to 20 persons maximum at all times,” she said.
She, in addition, urged the use of ICT via online communication as much as possible so as to ameliorate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
She also enjoined Justices and staff of the court to support the efforts of the federal government by observing all guidelines.