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The Lagos State Government on Friday inaugurated the Special Offences (Mobile) Court to summarily deal with growing cases of traffic and environmental abuses in the state with the view to bring sanity and civility in the conduct of residents.
The Mobile Court, which will be manned by highly-qualified Magistrates of the State Judiciary, will summarily try cases involving traffic and environmental offenders.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony held at the Lagos State High Court in Ikeja, the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem said the launch of the Mobile Court, was one of the ways through which the administration of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode aims to broaden the pathway that guaranty citizens’ access to justice and at the same time ensure the preservation of civility in the society.
He said the development was an institutional reaction to identified societal challenges, and that henceforth traffic offenders such as motorcyclists who drive against traffic and refused to obey traffic signs like zebra crossing and traffic light indication, would no longer find it easy to get away with commission of such crimes in the state.
He also said commercial bus drivers popularly known as Danfo Drivers on motion with their doors open thereby endangering lives of those of their passengers and other road users, would equally be prosecuted before the Mobile Court, while anyone crossing the highway where pedestrian bridges are provided, would equally face trial.
Kazeem, who disclosed that henceforth driving on Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lanes of non-designated vehicles by anyone including military personnel, would attract prosecution before the Mobile Court, also warned people to desist from parking at undesignated places and indulging in noise pollution and street trading among others, saying such offences would be handled by the court.
He added: “These set of offences appear to be so simple but the reduction of its commission I believe is a major yardstick in determining how much we have progressed as a civilized society.
“It may seems simple, but its significance and expected impact to the society is a lot more profound,” Kazeem said.
Speaking on the importance of the event, the Attorney General said: “This event is even more momentous because It is a symbolic indication of some of the most important policies of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s administration on law and order which rest on the premise that no society will thrive in an atmosphere of lawlessness and disorder.
“This administration recognize that as Africa’s fastest growing mega city, law and order are critical pillars for sustaining democratic life. The state government has dedicated an enormous amount of manpower and financial resources in seeking better living standard by provision of roads, drainages and transportation system to mention but a few and it has enacted traffic and environmental laws to ensure the state remains environmentally friendly all the time.
“Yet some have chosen or deliberately refused to obey these laws. This is not entirely surprising as the history of mankind as shown that obedience to societal laws has never been entirely voluntary. Therefore, prompt and fair adjudication as well as the certainty of enforcement and penalties constitute the necessary inducement for respect and obedience of laws. For most people, where justice is delayed or denied, the victim is bound to feel some frustration, outrage or even further disrespect for law and order and if the same trend is allowed to take whole the very basis of an orderly society wears out gradually and steadily,” he said.
On her part, the Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Olufunmilayo Atilade said with the launch of the Mobile Court, the era of recklessness and lawlessness on Lagos roads were gone for good, as no government would fold its arms and watch the violation of traffic and environmental laws.
Justice Atilade, who lamented the death of a 25-year-old British Nigerian graduate, Doyin Serah Fagbenro who was killed by a reckless Danfo Driver about three weeks ago in Lekki-Ajah area of Lagos, said the story of the victim was just one of the many deaths occurring as a result of reckless driving and indiscipline.
“This must not be allowed to continue. Let it be known to all that the era of recklessness and impunity on our public roads and highways in Lagos State is gone. Those who chose to make life difficult for other people especially on our roads should have a rethink as they will henceforth be held accountable for their deeds,” Justice Atilade warned.
The special Offences court was established in 1994 to try essentially environmental Offences and it has been vested with powers to sit in any convenient place close to the scene of commission of any offence triable by it.
Though summary in nature, the proceedings before the Mobile Court will be operated in according with rules of natural justice and fair hearing.
There will be lawyers from the office of the Public Defender for any defendant who so desires to be defended, while defendants can also appoint any lawyer of their choice to defend them.