FCTA Defends Legality of Mobile Courts to Prosecute Lockdown Violators

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Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja

The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) yesterday defended the legality of its mobile courts to prosecute violators of the directives of the federal government to lock down the Federal Capital Territory.

The Solicitor-General of the FCT, Mr. Yusuf Wodi made the clarification in a statement following public concerns about the legality of the courts.

Wodi said the mobile courts were legally “constituted by the FCTA through the Honourable Chief Judge of the FCT, in line with Section 7 of the Quarantine Act of 2004, which vested jurisdiction to try violations under the Quarantine Act on Magistrate Courts.”

In keeping with the Quarantine Act, the solicitor-general disclosed that 13 magistrate courts with full complement of staff stationed at strategic locations within and outside the capital city were constituted and are now operational.

He explained that the courts were guided by approved Rules of Procedure in line with the Constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria and the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.

He explained that necessary protocols “have been put in place to ensure fairness, justice and above all, the implementation of the primary objective which is to safe guard public health.

“The primary responsibility of the administration as guaranteed by the constitution is to ensure public health and order. Government does not derive any pleasure in the curtailment of anybody’s freedom. Likewise, government is not interested in causing unnecessary hardship on the residents,” he said.

He said that as a responsible administration, the FCTA “is guided by the rule of law and has taken advantage of existing laws and international best practices in setting up the courts.

“The courts are not new but existing courts only assigned to deal with the enforcement of the COVID-19 regulations as a global emergency.”

On the penalties for those found guilty, the solicitor-general explained that was left at the discretion of the magistrates in line with the provisions of the law.