The Federal High Court was enacted by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court in pursuant to Section 254 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended.
As a premier Court of first instance, it has recorded impressive growth since its inception in 1973 and has become, unarguably an important pillar amongst the Courts in the Federal Judiciary of Nigeria. From the pioneering five Judges, the Court now has several Judges all over the states.
The Court has also grown structurally in terms of opening new divisions in almost all the states of the Federation with Lagos State with two divisions having regard to the volume of cases filed there as the (Commercial Capital) of Nigeria. Now, the Court also has thirty-six Judicial Divisions, spread across in thirty-six States of the country.
The second division of the Federal High Court in Lagos State was established in 2009 with the aim of reaching out to the large number of people in the state and this came to past after 36 years of the existence of the Federal High Court in Lagos. The court that is situated at Ashabi Cole Street, Alausa Ikeja, Lagos was officially opened on September 1, 2009.
According to the then Chief Judge of the Federation, Justice Abdullahi Mustapha, who presided over a special court session when the court was opened, the establishment of the court was due to popular demand by the government and people of different states across the country.
During the inauguration, Justice Mustapha also noted that part of the reasons for the establishment of the court is to reduce pressure from the Federal High Court Ikoyi and also to bring justice closer to the people.
The Ikeja Judicial Division of the court in Lagos was meant to cater primarily for person who resides in areas like Ikeja, Agege, Ifako-Ijaye, Ikorodu and Kosofe but reversed is the case as the purpose, which the court was established has not been duly fulfilled.
The eight years of existence of Ikeja Federal High Court is nothing to write home about and as far as some people are concerned, the establishment of that court is just a mere waste of the tax-payers money. There has not been any notable matter that has been handled by the Ikeja division of the Federal High Court since its inception aside the first inaugural sitting.
A recent visit to the court confirmed our findings that the court, which was beautifully built, to ease the citizen’s stress and to help them have easy access to justice is just a shadow of its old self. Part of our findings concerning the court reveals that no activity is taking place in that court. The only activity that can be seen is that the frontage of the court now serves as a car park for people that have come for their various businesses within the court environs.
Speaking to one of the security guards who choose to remain anonymous, he said he has been working there for a while and he has not seen any judge preside over matters in the court. When asked the kind of business that takes place in the court as no court sittings are taking place; he gave a shocking response. According to him, the only positive activity that goes on at the Ikeja Federal High Court is that you can get your affidavit done there.
“There is someone that assist people who want to sign affidavits but they don’t sign it here, they take it to Alausa Secretariat for signing,” he said.
It was also an obvious fact that the security men only resume to keep watch over the court buildings and its premises.
Another unauthorised source who also claimed anonymity disclosed that when the court was newly opened, a judge used to come around once in a week but hardly get a matter to preside on, hence he stopped coming.
Today, the Ikeja division of the Federal High Court situated at Alausa could be described as one of the numerous abandoned projects of the Federal Government. Despite the better plans that seems to be well designed when the court was being established, the Federal Government might have failed in bringing its vision concerning the court to past. The court, which was said to have been made ready in less than 30 days by Fashola’s administration after he received the order from the Federal Government could no longer complement lawyers’ job by assisting in keeping them within the Mainland, as well as to save them from the chaotic transportation on the way to the Island did not work out as planned.
Another reason why the Ikeja division of the Federal High Court was established was to reduce pressure on the Federal High Court in Ikoyi and also to bring justice nearer to the people of the state residing or operating within Ikeja axis, but reversed is the case as none of these came to fulfillment because lawyers and people of the state who reside around the court axis still travel to the Island to get justice.
Speaking on the state of Ikeja Federal High Court, a Lagos based lawyer, Mr. Tope Elusogbon said; the Federal High Courts are cited in the state of the Federation, and it is usually situated at the state capital and that is why the court is cited at Ikoyi since Lagos was the capital of Nigeria until the seat was moved to Abuja.
“There are about fifteen (15) judges in Ikoyi with support staff and the administrative departments. The creation of an Ikeja division is not going exactly beneficial to lawyers as it makes causes inconveniency logistically for example; there are some lawyers who have several cases before different judges on the same day.
“It is also not convenient for filing documents as one will have to file at Ikoyi and wait for the file to get to Ikeja division.
These among other reasons with cost implications to the Federal High Court, lawyers and litigants must have made Ikeja division of the FHC not viable.
However, concerned citizens who have wondered why the Ikeja division of the Federal High Court has not performed up to the expectation, are now calling on the Federal Government to help return the glory of the court, which seems to have been lost almost immediately after it was established, so that, lawyers and litigators within the court jurisdiction can enjoy a better service from the Federal High Court, Ikeja division as stated in the reasons why the court was established years back.