COVID-19; FCT CJ Releases New Practice Direction, All Courts To Resume On Monday 11th of May, 2020 {DOWNLOAD} - Uju Ayalogu's Blog for News, Reviews, Articles and More

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COVID-19; FCT CJ Releases New Practice Direction, All Courts To Resume On Monday 11th of May, 2020 {DOWNLOAD}

COVID-19; FCT CJ Releases New Practice Direction, All Courts To Resume On Monday 11th of May, 2020 {DOWNLOAD}

The Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Hon. Justice I. U. Bello, FNIALS, has released a new Practice Direction to “regulate the sitting of the Courts of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, in the wake of the relaxation of the Sit-At-Home/Lockdown by the Federal Government of Nigeria and to ensure the effective conduct of court business without compromising the health and safety of the Honourable Judges, Learned Magistrates, Court staff, counsel, litigants, and other court users in conformity with extant directives and advisories issued by the Federal Government of Nigeria and/or relevant agencies on containing the Covid-19 Pandemic.”

The Practice Direction which was made available to TheNigeriaLawyer (TNL) shall apply to both civil and criminal proceedings before High Courts, Magistrates and District Courts and shall take effect from the 11th of May, 2020.

It was made Pursuant to Section 259 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), section 109 of the High Court Act, Cap. 510, Laws of Nigeria, 2004, Order 1 Rule 3 of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (Civil Procedure) Rules 2018, section 490 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, and all other powers enabling him in that behalf.

The said Practice Direction provides that courts shall resume sitting from the 11th day of May, 2020 and “the period beginning from Monday, 23rd March, 2020 to Monday, 4th May, 2020 (six weeks), being the period of the Sit-At-Home/Lockdown declared by the Federal Government of Nigeria by reason of the Covid-19 Pandemic shall be excluded for the purposes of COMPUTATION OF TIME for doing any act under the Rules of Court.”

Paragraph 6 of the Practice Direction provides for social distancing and use of masks by court staff, counsel, litigants, and all persons inside the court room.

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All parties shall be represented by one counsel subject to the Rules of Professional Conduct which provides for instances requiring two counsel and by paragraph 8 of the Practice Direction, All criminal proceedings requiring the presence of Defendant has been suspended till further notice.

However, bail applications, remand proceedings and overnight cases are to be entertained provided that the court shall exercise necessary caution to ensure that suspects are not remanded in correctional centres.

He shall also consider the possibility of granting bail or directing the prosecuting Agency to grant same in liberal terms. In non bailable Offences, suspects are to be remanded in custody of prosecuting agencies.

Paragraph 9 provides that:

“Causes and Matters and other proceedings that can be determined on the basis of affidavit evidence may, as far as practicable, be heard and disposed of by Remote Hearing on virtual platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Team, Skype or other audio or visual platforms as may be approved by the Chief Judge.

This includes cases initiated by originating summons or originating motion, applications for enforcement of fundamental right and interlocutory motions as well as adoption of written final addresses and delivery of judgments/Rulings…”

Matters in cause list for each day are not to exceed five and each case shall be given specific time to avoid large gathering.

Click Here To download Copy In PDF Format

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