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Lagos settles N1.24bn debt among residents through mediation

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*Receives 39,586 legal cases, mediates 30,017

The Lagos State Government said it has facilitated the settlement of N1, 242, 765, 569 debt among residents through mediation in the last one year.

Speaking at the year 2020 annual ministerial press briefing, Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN), said the sum came out of the 22,896 cases that were amicably resolved among parties by the Citizens Mediation Centre (CMC).

He said the CMC, which is an agency under the Ministry charged with the responsibility of providing free legal services to residents, received 39,586 cases for mediation in the last one year, out of which 30,017 were mediated.

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“A total number of 39,586 cases were received for mediation. Out of this number, 30,017 were mediated and 22,896 were totally resolved. The cases not treated were either abandoned by the parties or independently resolved by them.

“The total value of settlement of debt related matters facilitated by the Centre on behalf of parties during the period under review is One billion, two hundred and forty-two million, seven hundred and sixty-five thousand, five hundred and sixty-nine naira only (N1, 242, 765, 569),” Onigbanjo said.

According to him, the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) received a total of 1,092 case files in the period under review, and issued 1,079 legal advice, out of which 1,148 information and proof of evidence were filed in court.

“The DPP, within the period under review, received a total of 282 applications for Plea Bargain, out of which 230 was approved while 52 applications were rejected. The DPP obtained a total of 127 Judgments, one of such judgment (State of Lagos v. Olalekan Hameed) was via remote hearing during the pandemic lockdown leading to the conviction for murder and sentencing to death.

“The DPP equally filed charge of involuntary manslaughter against a Truck Driver on BRT corridor at Ikorodu; charged a Police Officer for Murder of one Kolade Johnson; prosecuted the case of Danish citizen who allegedly murdered his wife and daughter; and murder of wife of Maersk MD, among other cases,” the Commissioner said.

On the other hand, he said the Directorate of Civil Litigation defended the 144 cases that were filed against the State Government in the State High Courts, Federal High Court, Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court in the last one year; secured 40 judgments and concluded a number of cases, with reduction of contingent liability for the government.

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He added that the State Office of the Public Defender (OPD) saddled with the responsibility of providing legal aid and other related functions to the masses, especially the less privileged and the vulnerable received a total of 427 petitions and 690 criminal cases in the last one year.

Giving a breakdown, the Commissioner said: “In the period under review, OPD received 427 petitions, concluded 85 through ADR; received 690 criminal cases, 140 civil cases, embarked on 4 rescue missions, treated 40 domestic violence cases, addressed the matter of 6 children who were in conflict with the law, obtained 14 judgments, handled 10 police matters, kept 6 children in OPD custody and assisted in paying compensation to people, including saving the child in the Jehovah Witness blood transfusion case.

“The OPD also visited all correctional services in the State to render free legal services to inmates who do not have legal representation, as well as embarked on several trainings.”

Also, the Commissioner said the Commercial Law Directorate of the Ministry drafted over 100 Agreements from May 2019-May, 2020 on behalf of the State Government, while 14 major Agreements were concluded.

In terms of ramping up infrastructure to strengthen the judiciary and the police, the Commissioner said within the period under review, Governor Sanwo-Olu commissioned a combined High/Magistrate Courts christened Christopher Olatunde Segun Courthouse at Badore, Ajah to promote easy access to Justice for Lagosians at the grassroots.

“The fully equipped court complex is made up of 5 Court Rooms, which consists of three magistrate courts and two High Courts, lawyer’s office, kitchen, Judges’ chambers, library, Registrar’s Office and conference room facility,” he said.

Other projects are Ilashe Area L Police Command; Area J Police Command, Elemoro; two new complexes at Iba and Ojo LGAs for the CMC; and refurbishment of the police law library at Panti.

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