…rebuilds 16 magistrate courts across Edo
The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has inaugurated the Edo Small Claims Court, in Benin City, to make settlement of commercial disputes seamless and fast, demonstrating the state government’s commitment to deepening Ease of Doing Business reform.
With the inauguration of the court, Edo becomes the third state in the country after Kano and Lagos States to have the Small Claims Court.
At the inauguration of the court, Obaseki said the establishment of the Small Claims Court was a way of simplifying the legal system to provide quick justice for small business owners.
The governor also unveiled the Practice Directions and Handbook of the Edo Small Claims Court.
He said in line with ongoing reforms in the state judiciary, his administration awarded contracts for the rebuilding of 16 magistrates’ courts, noting that the plan was to rebuild all the magistrates’ courts in the state.
He noted, “The legal system is distant from our people because if you have a claim and you have to go through the court system, before you pay lawyers and go to courts for adjournment, sometimes the case could go as long as 5 to 10 years, and you are discouraged.
“But with the Small Claims Court, you go to the magistrates’ court close to you; you don’t need a lawyer and within 60 days you will get justice.”
Obaseki urged residents of the state to patronise the court as it was geared towards improving the ease of doing business, adding that the state would continue to improve the working condition of judges and magistrates, as a strong dispute resolution mechanism was needed for economic growth.
Edo State Chief Judge, Hon. Justice Esther Edigin, said the inauguration of the Small Claims Courts would create a platform where small business owners could easily access justice in the settling of commercial disputes.
Justice Edigin explained that the entire period of proceedings in the Small Claims Courts from filing until judgement will not exceed 60 days, adding, “The Small Claims Courts are designed to resolve liquidated debts dispute of N5 million and below in a speedy, informal, inexpensive and simple manner.”
The State Chief Judge noted that the Small Claims Courts are spread across different Magisterial Districts in Edo State including Oredo, Egor, Evbuoriaria, Ogbeson, Ekiadolor, Okada, Ekpoma, Uromi, Sabongida-Ora, Auchi and Igarra.
Earlier, Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Ease of Doing Business, Dr. Jumoke Oduwole, said access to justice is pivoted for Small and Medium Scale Enterprises to grow their businesses, adding that the inauguration of the Small Claims Court in Edo State was timely.
Chairman, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Edo State Chapter, Prince Collins Ogiegbaen, commended the Edo State judiciary for inaugurating the claims court, noting that it will provide equality and social justice for the common man.
He urged that the National Assembly to enact a bill that would ensure the establishment of the court in all states of the country.
Edo State Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Prof. Yinka Omorogbe, said the inauguration of the court was a milestone, stressing that it will significantly improve the economy of the state in many ways, including speedy dispensation of justice.