• Saturday, May 25, 2024
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JAALS’ Foundation champions effective justice administration and reforms

The duties and significance of bailiffs in the administration of the justice system cannot be overemphasized. Bailiffs play a crucial role in maintaining order and ensuring the smooth functioning of courts. Bailiffs are essential for maintaining order, ensuring due process, and executing court decisions. Their vigilance and adherence to their duties contribute significantly to an effective justice system, that is why the training held on the 2nd and 3rd of April, 2024, by JAALS Foundation in collaboration with the Federal High Court and Shan Consulting could not have come at a better time. The comprehensive and intensive sessions were designed to enhance the skills and knowledge of Bailiffs serving within the Federal High Court system as it aimed to equip participants with the necessary tools and insights to excel in their roles within the justice administration system.

Most recently, JAALS’ Foundation hosted and facilitated a first of its kind, 2 day intensive training program for Bailiffs serving within the Federal High Court system in collaboration with the Federal High Court and Shan Consulting. The objectives of the training included to enhance Bailiffs’ understanding of their pivotal role in the justice administration system; provide practical guidance on courtroom procedures, document handling, and maintaining decorum; foster interactive discussions to encourage knowledge sharing and learning from field experiences; introduce strategies for conflict resolution, effective communication, and upholding human rights principles and highlight the importance of continuous professional development and accountability in the execution of duties.

The intense training program served as a platform for the Bailiffs to deepen their understanding of their responsibilities and the legal framework within which they operate. By engaging in interactive sessions, participants had the opportunity to share their experiences and learn from expert speakers and facilitators. The program emphasized the importance of ongoing learning and accountability, aiming to empower Bailiffs in contributing effectively to the administration of justice and uphold the principles of fairness and integrity within the Federal High Court system.

Mr. Tolu Aderemi, Director at JAALS’ Foundation in his welcome address stated that the collaboration between JAALS Foundation and the Federal High Court, aimed at enhancing the skills of Bailiffs. He further mentioned that JAALS Foundation is committed to advocating for social justice and good governance, with a focus on reforming the justice system.

In one of the keynote lectures at the training, Dr. Babatunde Ajibade SAN, FCIArb (UK) recognized the challenges within the justice sector, including inadequate remuneration, poor infrastructure, and perceived inefficiencies in the judicial appointment system. He emphasized the critical role of bailiffs as a fundamental link in the justice system, responsible for ensuring proper service of processes and maintaining the integrity of court proceedings. Dr. Ajibade also advocated for training programs to enhance the efficiency of bailiffs’ operations with a call for technological advancements to streamline processes, such as electronic proofs of service accessible at the touch of a button.

Mr. Godson Ugochukwu SAN in his paper titled “Understanding The Statutory Responsibilities Of A Bailiff In The Negerian Sheriffs And Civil Process Act”, expressed gratitude to the JAALS Foundation for organizing the event and emphasized its potential impact on interactions between the Bar and the Registry. He began by defining the role of a Bailiff within the justice system, distinguishing between a Bailiff and a Sheriff. He also highlighted the fundamental duties of a Bailiff, including enforcement and execution of court orders, maintaining decorum in courtrooms, and serving and receiving court processes. Mr. Ugochukwu underscored the importance of ethical conduct for Bailiffs and emphasized the need for them to understand relevant laws governing process serving.

Ms. Busola Ajala shared insights gathered from interviews with lawyers regarding their experiences with court bailiffs. The responses highlighted various challenges, including lack of communication, dishonesty in service attempts, excessive fees, and unprofessional behavior. She also discussed key terms relevant to her presentation, such as “imbibe,” “creative,” “ownership,” and “mindset,” laying the foundation for further exploration.

Hon. Justice Ibrahim Kala who delivered a Keynote address on the Process Of Serving Court Documents also emphasized the importance of standardization and clarity in the process of serving court documents. He outlined key elements that should be included in any court process, including phone numbers, dates, times, and signatures. The Honourable Judge also stressed the importance of adhering to these standards to ensure the authenticity and validity of court documents. He also addressed issues related to the practical aspects of serving court documents, such as dealing with faded stamps and challenges with serving security personnel. Justice Kala emphasized the need for honesty and integrity in the performance of duties, highlighting the importance of trust in the legal process.

Many other distinguished speakers also shared goodwill messages during the training sessions including Hon. Justice John Tsoho, Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Hon. Chief Justice A O Faji, Mr. Eghobaniem SAN, Mr. Olabisi Makonjuola Chairman, NBA Lagos, Mr Longs, DCR of the Federal High Court, Mr. Bisoye Coker MD, KIAKIA GLOBAL, Mr. Bidemi Amusa MD, CARRILLION, Mr. Emobonuvie Majemite NBA SEC, LAGOS, Mrs. Sylvia Nzekwu and Mrs Gloria Abugo.

The Honourable Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Hon. Justice John Tsoho commended Mr. Eghobaniem SAN and Mr. Tolu Aderemi for their commitment towards the reform of the justice administration. While Mr. Olabisi Makonjola, Chairman NBA Lagos in his speech hailed the Bailiffs as the champions of the judicial system. The Chairman advocated for policies that prioritize the welfare and well-being of court bailiffs, ensuring that they are adequately compensated for their invaluable service. He stressed the collective responsibility of the legal community in advocating for fairness, equity, and justice within the legal system.

The Managing Director of KIAKIA GLOBAL INC. Mr. Bisoye Coker stated that the event stood as a testament to the belief that access to justice is not a privilege reserved for the elite few, but a fundamental right inherent to every Nigerian citizen. He added that amidst the complex web of legal intricacies, it’s all too easy to overlook the silent champions—the Bailiffs—whose steadfast dedication ensures that court orders are more than just words on paper, but tangible instruments of justice.

Several recommendations were also proposed by Special Guests including advocating for providing bailiffs with adequate technological equipment and training to improve efficiency; establishing a system to evaluate Bailiffs’ performance regularly; reimburse allowances to aid in process serving reevaluating the system of assessing fees for bailiff services to ensure they reflect the actual costs incurred and exploring the option of privatizing bailiff services to potentially enhance efficiency and accountability. There was also a call for a collaborative effort between courts, bailiffs, and lawyers to improve efficiency in document service. While bailiffs have a duty to serve processes effectively, lawyers also play a role in ensuring that proofs of service are filed timely. The application of civil justice laws, such as delaying courtroom entry until proofs of service are in order is emphasized as a way to incentivize efficiency.

In his Vote of Thanks, Mr. Tolu Aderemi, Director of JAALS Foundation, expressed gratitude to Honorable Chief Justice Tsoho, represented by Admin Chief Justice Faji, for their presence and support. He also thanked the Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association for attending the two-day event, alongside other stakeholders, partners, and participants. Aderemi emphasized the importance of collaboration and commitment to advancing the justice system. He concluded by encouraging everyone to apply the knowledge gained from the training in their respective roles. The event marks the beginning of a long-term partnership to bring about positive change within the judicial system, with a focus on collaboration and continuous improvement. Mr. Aderemi also announced the commitment of the Foundation to refurbish the Bailiff Section of the Federal High Court in collaboration with Carrilion Construction Limited

JAALS Foundation stands as a beacon of hope and progress. According to Mr. Tolu Aderemi, Director at JAALS, the Foundation is committed to advocating for social justice and good governance, with a focus on reforming the justice system. With a steadfast commitment, the foundation is pioneering strategic reforms that promise to reshape the landscape of justice in the nation. The JAALS Foundation’s approach is multifaceted, focusing on key areas that are crucial for the establishment of a fair and equitable legal system.

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