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Sunday, August 1, 2021

Suspects’ relatives, counsels besiege stations as Courts resume

Josephine Oguntoyinbo

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Litigants heaved a sigh of relief across the country yesterday as judicial activities resumed in courts following the suspension of an eight week nationwide strike by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN).
Members of JUSUN went on strike on Tuesday, April 6 to demand for judicial autonomy and its independence.
In Ondo State, reports from the judicial divisions of Akure, Ondo, Owo, Okitipupa and Ikare revealed that the striking workers returned to their desks as anxious families and lawyers stormed the Ondo State Police Headquarters along Igbatoro road, Akure and demanded that their detained suspects be charged to court without delay.
The suspects have been in police cells for over two months due to the strike embarked upon by the judicial staff.
The Hope gathered that the various police cells across the state had been filled to the brim even when some were granted administrative bail.
The Hope gathered that the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), at the police command and other police divisions across the state turned to a beheeve of activities as the families and counsels make frantic efforts for the arraignment of their clients in cells.
When our correspondents went round the stations, some Investigative Police Officers (IPOs), were seen putting finishing touches to the case files in readiness to arraign the suspects before the courts, while some lawyers were seen prowling court rooms trying to get dates for their cases.
An IPO who spoke with The Hope on condition of anonymity said: “As you can see, everybody is preparing his case file for onward transmission to the Courts.
“You know the strike embarked upon by JUSUN has affected some of our cases that ought to have been disposed off. But, we thank God that at last, they are back to work.
“This will further help decongest our cells which had been overcrowded with detained suspects.
Reports from Akure, Ondo, Okitipupa, Owo and Ikare Judicial Divisions said no suspect was arraigned yet in the courts despite the presence of judiciary workers and the lawyers.
When The Hope visited some of the courts in Ikare-Akoko, Akungba and Oka Akoko, some workers were busy cleaning the premises while others were attending to administrative matters.
Similarly, some lawyers and litigants were seen moving round the courts, probably to reshedule or pick new dates for their cases.
Father to a detained suspect, Mr Ayoko Amos, who expressed delight at the return of JUSUN to work, said it will enable him secure the bail of his son who has been in police custody for three weeks.
In the same vein, an applicant, Mayowa Ademola, said he had wanted to obtain a court affidavit to correct a spelling mistake on one of the documents he needed for a job application, but could not do so because the courts were shut.
However a source in one of the courts disclosed that workers were warming up as necessary documents since the long period of the strike had left many things that will facilitate smooth running of the courts and proceedings undone.
Meanwhile, the Area Commander of the Ikare Akoko Area Police Command Office could not be reached as at the time of filling this report.
But a competent police source told The Hope that the command would commence to arraign some of the suspects in their custody today.
The source disclosed that the suspects were not arraigned on Tuesday since the courts resumed same day and needed to put things in order.
The Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, Akure chapter, has assured that the association will do everything possible for speedy dispensation of justice as courts activities resume.
He confirmed that activities in various courts have commenced yesterday while dates for trials would be promptly fixed.
“Courts cannot just start sitting without following protocols after the prolonged strike. All necessary measures are being put in place to ensure quick dispensation of justice in the state,” he assured.
Ondo State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Tee Leo Ikoro, while speaking with The Hope said the police is ready to charge suspects whose investigations had been concluded to court .
According to him, some of the cases are due to be taken to Court for prosecution but were delayed as a result of the JUSUN strike.
He stated that suspects who are already on administrative bail would be taken to court adding that the resumption of JUSUN will help decongest the police cells and also various prison custodies across the state.

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