Opinion: Nigeria & The Law, Jibrin Sam Okutepa (SAN) Advocates For “Doctrine Of Necessity” At This Time Of Total Lockdown

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It is no longer news that there is total lockdown in some notable cities in Nigeria to include; Abuja, Lagos and Ogun due the ravaging coronavirus pandemic.

President Muhammadu Buhari  Who in his wisdom thought it wise that one of the best ways to stop the further spread of this dreaded pandemic is to restrict peoples’ movement in the above named towns which according to Nigerian Centre For Disease Control ( NCDC ), are the worst hit thus far.

Perhaps, this is no doubt that this order would not only bring hardship to the people but would also cripple economic activities as well as affect court cases.

It may interest you to know that according to the provision of Nigerian law, there are some certain cases that must be decided within a given period of time.

This simply means that, such cases have time bounds within which they must be decided.

However, Nigerian Constitution does not consider the case of “natural disaster or natural pandemic” that might affect the time set for those cases.

Hence, it is against this background that one of Nigeria’s finest Jurists at Law, Jibrin Sam Okutepa ( SAM ) suggests what should apply now that we have total lockdown as a result of coronavirus outbreak.

Ourworldgist brings to you what he has to say:

” In this era of total lockdown, time has come for us as lawyers and judicial officers to think of how to give justice to litigants.

There is no doubt that there are certain matters that are time bound.

But there is total lockdown.

Should time run during this period of lockdown. I do not think so.

Laws are made for man and not that man is made for law.

The imperative or implication of this is that the legal profession must think ahead and give justice to litigants who due to no fault of theirs may not have their causes and matters heard within time allotted by law or the constitution due to this necessary and unavoidable lockdown.

Therefore the stakeholders in justice delivery system must avoid rigidity and legalistic construction of our laws and must construed the time frame in the laws to accommodate this period of national lockdown.

This is where our law courts must invoke the doctrine of necessity to save causes and matters that may expire within this period.

A fine distinction exists between extension of time and calculations of time.

In my view in calculating the period allocated by laws or constitution to hear and conclude matters, the period of this national lockdown must be excluded from the period allocated by law or constitution for these matters to be heard and determined.

This to me is the best option given the pandemic circumstances we find ourselves due to no fault of anyone”

Read Also: Abusing And Denigrating Court Judgements Should Attract Punishment – Jibrin Sam Okutepa ( SAN )


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