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Thumbs up for Lagos Directorate of Citizens Rights

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Sanwo-olu. Photo/TWITTER/JUDESANWOOLU

Sir: I wish to use this medium to commend the Lagos State Government under Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for the state’s initiative in setting up the Directorate of Citizens Rights, an agency charged with mediating in a number of issues concerning the ordinary citizens of the state who otherwise have no means to access the courts for redress on important matters affecting their persons. I am aware that many mediation agencies of government are in existence with a mandate to resolve thorny issues among Lagos State citizens who are so interested in seeking justice; but this particular one called the Directorate of Citizens Rights has really impressed me as well as many other Lagosians, some of whom encouraged me to approach the organisation for help. Their advice was strictly based on the very positive response they received from the agency when they had personal issues to resolve.

When I first read published reports of the work of this agency on some official platforms, I was inclined to think that it was an exaggeration. But when I had cause to meet the directorate sometime last year, with an intractable landlord/tenant problem, I began to change my mind. First, I commend the warm reception and hospitality of the senior government lawyers assigned to attend to complainants. They were attentive and treated both complainants and those against whom the complaints were made with equal respect and decorum.

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The lawyers were very professional by the very germane questions they asked from the parties in dispute, which questions were aimed at finding out the cause of the problem. Although they do not pass judgement on the parties, as they emphasise that their duty is to find solutions that will be acceptable to all and that will be legally right; yet they have a commendable way of pointing out the defects or wrongdoings of any of the parties, particularly where such wrongs are so glaring and patent. In the end, they usually succeed in making the parties opt for settlement instead of nursing their grievances for an unduly long time and in consequence, disrupting their personal and daily chores.

The most pleasant thing about the directorate is that it satisfies all the parties without the parties incurring any expenses. This is so cheering because many of the parties before the directorate are of no big means, and would therefore have needed to look for money desperately to seek redress in court. Moreover, due to the nature of courts and often the practice of some lawyers, court matters can take an unpalatable long time to conclude; and even then, the conclusion is subject to appeals to higher courts which again can drag cases almost forever.

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So what Lagos State Government has achieved and is achieving through the Directorate of Citizens Rights is to save cost and time for hapless citizens of the state with genuine disputes requiring resolution. Again, I commend this agency and all its officers dispensing justice without tears to parties in dispute.

I am aware that the directorate has between June 2019 and December 2020, resolved 4,343 family matters; 924 tenancy matters; 606 employer/employee disputes and 245 child-related matters. Within the same period, the directorate obtained 23 judgements and two rulings; and also recovered N117, 725, 331.00 claims. I urge the government to do everything necessary to sustain the work of the directorate, in the interest of the struggling masses of the state.

Kola William, Olorunkemi Street, Bariga, Lagos State.

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