By Ikeugonna Eleke
The Anambra State House of Assembly, has passed a bill for a law for the establishment of magistrate’s courts for Anambra State and for the appointment of magistrates, justices of the peace and other officers of courts and for other purposes relating to the administration of Justice, (Repeal and Re-enactment)
The bill which was passed during last plenary, was presented to the House by the sponsor and Majority Leader, Dr Nnamdi Okafor.
Fides reports that the bill stipulates that every magistrate shall have power to administer oaths and solemn affirmations and declarations, to receive production of books and documents, and to make such decrees and orders and issue such process and exercise such powers, judicial and administrative, in relation to the administration of Justice as shall from time to time be prescribed by rules of court or subject there to by any magistrate court.
It provides that every magistrate shall have jurisdiction throughout the state but may be assigned to any specific district or transferred from one district to another by the Chief Judge.
It also outlines the duties of an administrative magistrate, jurisdictions of Chief Magistrates in criminal cases and matters, powers of the governor to increase jurisdiction of magistrates, timeline for hearing of criminal cases, among others.
Reacting to the bill, the Deputy Speaker, Dr. Paschal Agbodike, who described it as a welcome development, noted that it would facilitate quick dispensation of Justice in Anambra State, even as he expressed joy that that the synergy existing between the House and the judiciary had resulted in the rapid development of the state.
The Chairman, House Committee on Information and Culture, Honourable Okechukwu Okoye, revealed that the bill would protect the rights of the common man, in the state and stop keeping of inmates in Correctional Centres for so long without trial.
The Speaker of the House, Right Honourable Uche Okafor, maintained that it would bring Justice nearer to the people and create more employment opportunities for the youths and read out the bill to the House, while members of the House supported it through a voice vote.