From Fisayo Akinduro, Osogbo
As part of efforts to curb community spreading of coronavirus, Osun State Judiciary has issued new guidelines for all court sittings in the state.
According to a circular issued by the Chief Registrar of the High Court, Mr. M. A Lasisi, the pandemic had disrupted the operations of the court system in the state and there was no foreseeable end to the virus.
The Chief Judge of the state, Justice Adepele Ojo, as stated in the circular said there was need to design appropriate strategies to resume court sittings amidst the ravaging COVID-19.
Ojo, in the circular maintained that the guidelines would ensure continuous running of the administration of justice without compromising the health of judicial officers, judiciary staff and court users.
The new guidelines include issuance of hearing notices through WhatsApp, text messages and other forms of social media platforms.
Also, no counsel or party would enter the courtroom unless his case is scheduled to be entertained, based upon previous notice from the court.
The Chief Judge also directed that Magistrates and Judges should try as much as possible not to give orders for defendants to be remanded, in compliance with authorities of correctional centres not to admit new inmates.
Where the order of remand is inevitable, an auxiliary order which allows the accused persons be first quarantined at an appropriate facility for prescribed number of days should be given, said the CJ.
She also directed that process meant for consideration by the court should be filed at the registry of the court not later than five days before the date, adding that the process should be kept in a sealed envelope until it is ready for use by the court.
According to Ojo, virtual or remote sitting would not be done by courts in the state until appropriate Legislative and technological structures have been put in place.
The circular stated further: “The honourable Chief Judge may issue a fiat to any judge or magistrate to sit in any other division or district as the case may be, where it is inevitable to do so in view of challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.