Magistrates’ Courts Bill, 2013

July 25, 2013

Section
  1. Division Of The State Into Magistrate Divisions
  2. Establishment Of Magistrates’ Court Houses
  3. Seal Of The Magistrate
  4. Appointment Of Magistrate
  5. Oath Of Office
  6. Power Of Magistrates
  7. Magistrate Shall Not Exceed Power Conferred On Him
  8. Decorum, Dress Code And Discipline
  9. Right Of Appearance In The Magistrates, Court
  10. Cessation Of Office Of A Magistrate
  11. General Jurisdiction
  12. Magistrates’ Jurisdiction In Chambers
  13. Magistrate Is A Justice Of The People
  14. Appointment And Removal Of Justice Of The Peace
  15. Powers And Functions Of Justice Of The Peace
  16. Magistrates As A Justice Of The Peace
  17. Chief Magistrate.
  18. Conflict Of Interest
  19. Appointment And Control Of Registrars And Other Officers
  20. Court Clerks And Registrars
  21. Appointment Of Court Administrator
  22. Appointment Of Court Recorder
  23. Appointment Of Interpreters
  24. Appointment Of Commissioner For Oaths
  25. General Power Of Magistrates
  26. Civil Jurisdiction Of Magistrates
  27. Criminal Jurisdiction Of Magistrates
  28. Definition Of Fine
  29. Special Jurisdiction Of Magistrates
  30. Governor’S Power To Increase Jurisdiction
  31. Appeals From Customary Court
  32. Power Of Executive Council To Add To Jursidiction
  33. Attorney General’S Power To Increase Jurisdiction
  34. Execution Of High Court Processes
  35. Administration Of Oaths
  36. Concurrent Administration Of Law And Equity
  37. Application Of Customary Law
  38. Reconciliation And Mediation In Civil Case
  39. Power Of Magistrate To Refer To Mediation, Conciliation And Arbitration
  40. Reconciliation In Criminal Case
  41. Duties Of Legal Practitioner In Instituting Proceeding In A Magistrate Court
  42. Place Of Sitting Of Courts
  43. Court Sitting Time
  44. Business At Any Sitting
  45. Adjournment
  46. Report Of Cause For Transfer
  47. Effect Of Transfer
  48. No Appeal From Transfer
  49. Practice And Procedure
  50. Proceeding To Be Heard And Disposed Off By A Single Magistrate
  51. Completion By Magistrate Of Process Began By Predecessor
  52. Pleading, Judgment Of Other Courts In Defence
  53. Service Of Process
  54. Failure To Report Service
  55. Issuance Of Process
  56. Inspection By The Court
  57. Contempt Of Court
  58. Duty Of The Police And Other Law Enforcement Officer To Obey Magistrate
  59. Power Of Magistrate To Appoint Special Witnesses
  60. Evidence Of Prisoner
  61. Power To Arrest Defendant Leaving Nigeria
  62. Judgment
  63. Finality Of Judgment
  64. Evidence Of Record Of Proceeding
  65. Executor May Sue And Be Sued
  66. Procedure Where Persons Are Jointly Liable
  67. Prosecution In Criminal Case
  68. Appointment And Duties Of Magistrate Court Sheriff
  69. Appeal By Prosecutor
  70. Appeal By Convicted Person
  71. Criminal Appeal Procedure
  72. Power Of Chief Judge To Require Returns Of Criminal Cases
  73. Right Of Appeal In Civil Proceeding
  74. Civil Appeal Procedure
  75. Additional Evidence
  76. Mode Of Taking Additional Evidence
  77. Enforcement Of Judgment By Court Of Trial
  78. Appeal Not To Operate As Stay Of Execution
  79. Abatement Of Appeals
  80. Case Stated
  81. Contents Of Case Stated
  82. Reservation Of Question Of Law For Opinion Of High Court
  83. Payment And Recovery Of Fees Prescribed By Rules Of Court
  84. Application Of Section 79 To Other Fees
  85. Fines To Be Paid To The Court Administrator
  86. Budget
  87. Account And Reports
  88. Annual Report
  89. Trainings
  90. Pension And Gratuity
  91. Refusal By Magistrate To Do Any Act Relating To His Office
  92. Protection Of The Judicial Officer
  93. Representation Of The State And Government Departments
  94. Rules Of Court
  95. Savings
  96. Repeals
  97. Citation
  98. Interpretation
COMMENCEMENT

ENACTED by the Ekiti State House of Assembly as follows:

1. Division of the State into Magisterial Districts

THE EKITI STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY enacts as follows:
The Ekiti State Judicial Service Commission (referred to in this law ‘’the commission‘’) may by notice in the gazette:

a. divide the state, or any portion of it into magisterial districts for the purpose of this law;

b. constitute in any part of the sate a magisterial district (s);

c. distinguish any district by such name or number as it may think proper and

d. vary the limits of any of such districts as contained in schedule to this law.

2. Establishment of Magistrates’ Court Houses

The commission shall establish such magistrate court house as it consider appropriate, necessary and expedient to accommodate the needs of the state

3. Seal of the Magistrates’ Courts

(1) A Magistrate shall have and may use any official seal bearing the device and impression by the Commission with the inscription “The Magistrate court of Ekiti State”

(2) The seal shall be kept by the Chief Magistrate Administration and a copy of it may be kept by each Magisterial District in the State.

(3) The Chief Magistrate may entrust the seal or its copy in such Officers of the Court as he thinks fit

(4) The seal referred to in this Section shall be the seal of the Magistrate Court for all purposes for which it may be required under the provisions of this or any other Law

4. Appointment of Magistrates

(1) There shall be appointed by the Commission, such number of Magistrates as may be specified from time to time by notice in the Gazette

(2) No person shall be appointed as Chief Magistrate, Senior Magistrate: Grade I or II or Magistrate: Grade I or II unless he is qualified as a barrister or as a barrister and solicitor in Nigeria and has been so qualified for a period of not less than  –
(a) seven years in the case of a chief magistrate or senior magistrate, grade i
(b) four years in the case of a senior magistrate, grade ii
(c) three years in the case of a magistrate grade i and
(d) two year in the case of a magistrate grade i

Provided that in computing the period during which a person has been qualified to practice as a barrister and solicitor any period during which he has held the office of Magistrate or law officer in any part of the Federation of Nigeria, shall be included.

(3) All Magistrates appointed to the Magistracy of the State shall serve as judicial officers to the exclusion of any other functions except as may be provided for under this law

5. Oath of Office

A Magistrate, upon appointment shall before proceeding to discharge the duties of his office take an oath or affirmation of Office to be administered by the Chief Judge of the State

6. Powers of Magistrates

(1) Provided that powers, authority and jurisdiction of each Magistrate
shall be as specified in this law.

(2) The Commission shall name one of the Chief Magistrates referred to in Section 17 of the Law as the Chief Magistrate Administration for the purpose referred to in subsection (4) of this Section

(3) In naming the Chief Magistrate Administration, the Commission shall have regard to seniority

(4) The duty of the Chief Magistrate Administration shall be to represent the Magistracy at official functions and to assign cases to other Magistrates under him

7. Magistrates shall not exceed Powers conferred on him

Subject to the special provisions contained in this Law, each Magistrate presiding as the officer of the Court to which such Magistrate is assigned shall have and exercise jurisdiction and powers only as conferred on him by his appointment

8. Mode of address of magistrate

(1) As from the commencement of this Law, notwithstanding any Law or custom to the contrary, all Magistrates in the State shall be addresses as “your Worship”

(2) A Magistrate when presiding in Court shall be robed in a black Magistrate’s gown in a proper and dignified manner, observe the customs and code of conduct of a judicial officer and the practice of the Bar with respect to appearance and courtesy

(3) The Commission shall be responsible for ensuring good conduct and discipline of Magistrate

9. Right of appearance in the Magistrate Courts

Notwithstanding any custom or practice, all Legal Practitioners called to Bar in Nigeria are entitled, regardless of conferment, title or rank, to appear in any Magistrate court in the State

10. Cessation of office of a Magistrate

(1) A Magistrate shall cease to act as a Magistrate where-
(a) he attains the age of 65 years

(b) in the opinion of the Commission, the Magistrate is mentally impaired or otherwise unable to discharge the functions of Magistrate and

(c) for reason of indiscipline and misconduct, the Commission determines that the Magistrate be removed from office

(2) Names of Magistrates who ceased to be in office shall be published in the official Gazette

11. General Jurisdiction

Each Magistrate shall have jurisdiction throughout the State but may be assigned to any specified district or transferred from one district to another by the Chief Judge

12. Exercise of magistrate’s jurisdiction in chambers and in camera

(1) The Court shall have power to hear any proceedings or any part of it in camera if the court is satisfied that it is in the interest of justice or if it has sufficient reason to do so.

(2) The Magistrate Court shall have powers to adjourn into chambers certain proceedings as are applicable under the Rules

13. Justices of the Peace

Each Magistrate shall by virtue of his office be a Justice of the Peace for the State

14. Appointment and removal of Justices of the Peace

The Attorney General may by notice in the Gazette, appoint any respectable person to be a Justice of the Peace in and for the State and may in like manner remove persons so appointed from the office of Justice of the Peace

15. Powers and functions of Justices of the Peace

Subject to the provisions of this and any other Law, every Justice of the Peace shall subject to any exceptions which may be contained in the notice of his appointment have -
(a) power to preserve peace, to suppress riots and public disorder, and to disperse all disorderly and tumultuous assemblies, and for any of these purpose to call in the aid and assistance of police officers and other law enforcement agencies, who shall severally be bound to obey all such lawful commands.

(b) all the powers, right and duties of a magistrate under this law or any other law to –

i. issue summonses and other process in civil causes and matters;
ii. issue search warrants;
iii. take solemn affirmation and statutory declarations;
iv. administer any oath which may be required to be taken before him in the exercise of any of the jurisdiction and power conferred on him by law; and

(c) such other power and rights and perform such duties of magistrates as may be conferred or imposed on him by rules of court made under the provisions of this law, not involving the trial of causes or in criminal cases the holding of preliminary inquiries

16. Justices of the Peace acting as a Magistrate

(1) Where the commission considers it expedient so to do it may by notice in the Gazette and for such time as it thinks fit, in any particular case, authorize a person holding office as a Justice of the peace to act as a Magistrate; and until the Commission revokes that notice such person shall be deemed to be a Magistrate with such powers in and out of the State.

(2) A person appointed under subsection (1) of this Section shall be a legal practitioner who is ordinarily qualified to be appointed a magistrate.

(3) Where there has been conferred upon a Justice of the peace under this Section powers of a Magistrate, he shall not, when sitting as a Magistrate, exercise any power in excess of the powers so conferred on him.

(4) Such person appointed pursuant to subsection I above shall adjudicate on cases referred to him/her by the Chief Magistrate for the District.

17. Chief Magistrate

(1) There shall be appointed by the commission for each district a Chief Magistrate

(2) In addition to any other duty conferred by this Law, it shall be the duty of a Chief Magistrate appointed by the Commission in each Court house to ensure as far as is practicable.

a) the even distribution of work among the magistrate in the district;
b) the expeditious disposal of all pending legal matters and actions; and
c) to take such steps as may be necessary to relieve congestion in the courts under the district.

18. Conflict of interest

(1) Where a Magistrate is a party to any cause or matter or is unable, for personal interest or for any other sufficient reason to adjudicate on any cause or matter, the magistrate shall notify the Chief Magistrate who shall direct some other Magistrate to act instead of such Magistrate for the hearing and determination of such particular cause or matter.

(2) Where the Chief Magistrate is affected by the provisions of subsection (1) of this Section. The Chief Magistrate shall excuse himself and delegate another magistrate to perform his functions.

19. Appointment and control of Registrars and other officers

There may be appointed from time to time Registrars, Court Clerks and other officers as the commission thinks necessary, who shall be subject to the general supervision and control of the Commission and who shall be under the immediate direction and control of the Court Administrator for the purpose of the general support of the Judicial functions of Magistrates.

20. Appointment of Registrar

(1) A fit and proper person shall be appointed to be the Registrar of each court

(2) The Registrar shall, subject to the general supervision and control of the Chief Judge, be under the immediate direction and control of the Magistrate

(3) The duties of the Registrar shall be -

a) to attend such sittings of the court as the magistrate direct;

b) to fill up or cause to be filled up summonses, warrants, orders, convictions, recognizances, writs of execution and other documents and submit the same for the signature of the magistrate

c) to make or cause to be made copies of proceedings when required to do so by the magistrate, and to record the judgments, convictions and order of the court.

d) to receive or cause to be received all fees, fines and penalties, and all other monies paid or deposited in respect of proceedings in the court, and to keep or cause to be kept accounts of the same; and

e) to perform or cause to be performed such other duties connected with the court as may be assigned to him by the magistrate.

21. Appointment of Court Administrator

(1) The Commission shall appoint any person with a degree or relevant professional qualification of not less than (10) years cognate experience as Court Administrator whose employment shall be defined by a service contract.

(2) The Court Administrator appointed under this law shall -

a) be responsible for the day to day administration and efficient operation of the magistracy.
b) support, assist and ensure the operational and efficiency of the magistrate in the execution and performance of its judicial functions;
c) be the chief administrative and the accounting officer of the magistracy.

(3) The duties and function of the Court Administrator shall be the -

a) management of the budget of the magistracy and among other things, undertake the financial administration including budget preparation, fiscal management of appropriate and other funds, purchasing, cash collection, accounting and auditing through various departments in the magistracy;

b) management and overseeing the administrative staff attached to the magistracy.

c) establishment and management of procedures for the acquisition and maintenance of furniture, equipment and other things which are incidental to the smooth running of the magistracy;

d) carrying out the directives of the commission as may be prescribed from time to time; and

e) delegation of any of his duties to the registrars in each magistrate court house

f) the court administrator or the registrars shall not at any time exercise any judicial function.

22. Appointment of Court Recorders

(1) There shall be appointed as many Court Recorders as the Commission deems sufficient and who shall be subject to the general supervision and control of the Commission

(2)The duties of the Court Recorders shall be to –
a) attend to all sittings of court as the magistrate shall direct;

b) make verbatim record of court trials, proceedings and other matters, noting essential events during proceedings and certify records of the court;

c) provide typed written transcripts as required by the magistrate, to parties to the proceedings or any member of the public within seventy two (72) hours signed by the recorder of the proceeding and the magistrate in whose court the proceeding took place; and

d) receive or cause to be received all fees in respect of such copies of proceedings in the court

23. Appointment of Interpreters

The Court shall appoint interpreters for proceedings where necessary and such person so appointed shall be duly sworn in

(2) Any person who is sworn as an interpreter shall interpret or provide adequate language interpretation in respect of all proceedings before the Court where the party cannot understand the language used at the trial

24. Appointment of Commissioner for Oaths

(1) The Commission shall appoint Commissioner for oath for each Magisterial District to administer Oaths and affirmations.

(2) Such persons appointed by the commission shall be duly sworn – in by the Chief Judge of the State as Commissioner for oaths

25. General Powers of Magistrates

Every Magistrate shall have power to:
a) administer and take solemn affirmations and declarations;
b) accept production of books and documents:
c) make such decrees and orders; and
d) issue such process and exercise such powers, judicial and administrative, in relation to the administration of justice, as shall from time to time be prescribed by any law or subject to any special order of the commission

26. Civil jurisdiction of Magistrates

(1) Subject to the provisions of the Constitution and any other enactment, a Chief Magistrate shall have and exercise jurisdiction in civil causes or matters-

a) in all personal actions, whether arising from contract, tort, or both, where the debt or damage claimed, whether as a balance of account or otherwise, is not more than five hundred thousand naira(n500,000.00);

b) in all actions between landlord and tenant for possession of any land or houses claimed under an agreement or refused to be delivered up, where the annual value or rent does not exceed five hundred thousand naira(n500,000.00);

c) in all actions for the recovery of any penalty, rates, expenses, contribution or other like demand which is recoverable by virtue of any enactment for the time being in force, if –

(i) it is not expressly provided by that or any other enactment that the demand shall be recoverable only in some other court; and

(ii) the amount claimed in the action does not exceed five hundred thousand naira;

d) to appoint guardians ad litem and to make orders and issue and give directions relating thereto; and

e) to grant in any action instituted in the court injunction or order to stay waste or alienation or for the detention and preservation of any property the subject of such action or restrain breaches of contracts or torts.

(2) Senior Magistrates, Grade I and II, and Magistrates, Grade I, II and III, shall have and exercise jurisdiction in civil causes or matters similar in all respect to that set out in subsection (1), save that subsection (1) shall have effect as if for the references therein to two hundred and fifty thousand naira there were substituted –

(a) in relation to a Senior Magistrate, Grade I, references to four hundred thousand naira;

(b) in relation to a Senior Magistrate, Grade II, references to three hundred thousand naira;

(c) in relation to Magistrate Grade I, references to Two Hundred thousand naira;

(d) in relation to Magistrate Grade II, references to One hundred thousand naira; and

(3) The applicable Rules for the enforcement of regulatory legislation under subsection (2) of this Section shall be set out in Schedule 2 to this Law in addition to any other rules or regulations as may be made by the Chief Judge on the recommendation of the Attorney- general.

(4) The amount claimed in action brought under subsection (2) of this Section shall not exceed Five Hundred Thousand Naira (N500,000.00) at the time of filing.

(5) Magistrates shall have concurrent powers to handle offences under other legislations as specified in schedule 3 to this Law.

(6) The Attorney- General shall have powers ton make Regulations under this Law to amend the list of offences contain in schedule 3 of this Law, subject to the approval of the Ekiti State House of Assembly.

(7) Subject to the provisions of any other Law, a Magistrate shall not exercise original jurisdiction in any cause or matter which raises any issues as to-
a) the title to land or any interest in land; or
b) the validity of any device, bequest or limitation under any will or settlement

27. Criminal jurisdiction of Magistrates

(1) Subject to any restriction or conditions prescribed by the -constitution or by any other law or enactment, Magistrates shall have jurisdiction and powers in respect of the summary trial and determination of criminal cases as set out in this Section.

(2) Every Magistrate shall have jurisdiction for the summary trial of offences other than indictable offences and for the conviction of any person accused of any such offences, may, subject to the other provisions of this Section, impose the punishment provided by Law for that offences.

(3) Every Magistrate shall have jurisdiction to deal summarily with any indictable offence, other than a capital offence, in accordance with the provisions of Part XXXV of the Criminal Procedure Law, and on the conviction of any person accused of any such offences may, subject to the other provisions of this section and the provisions of section 302, impose the punishment provided by law for that offence.

(4) The fine which a magistrate may impose in respect of any offence shall not exceed -

a) in the case of a chief magistrate, twenty thousand naira;
b) in the case of a senior magistrate, grade i, fifteen thousand naira;
c) in the case of a senior magistrate, grade ii, twelve thousand naira;
d) in the case of a magistrate, grade i, ten thousand naira;
e) in the case of a magistrate, grade ii, five thousand naira.

But shall not in any event exceed a maximum fine provided by law for that offence, and in no cause shall the aggregate of fines imposed by any magistrate exceed the sum specified above or such sum as may be substituted therefore, in respect of that magistrate.

(5) The term of imprisonment which a magistrate may impose in respect of any offence shall not exceed –
a) in the case of a chief magistrate, ten years;
b) in the case of s senior magistrate, grade i, seven years;
c) in the case of a senior magistrate, grade ii, five years;
d) in the case of a magistrate, grade i, four years;
e) in the case of a magistrate, grade ii, three years.

But shall not in any event exceed a maximum term of imprisonment provided by law for the offence, and in no cause shall the aggregate term of imprisonment in respect of two or more consecutive terms of imprisonment imposed in that cause by any magistrate exceed the term specified above or such term as may be substituted therefore, in respect of that magistrate.

(6)Where any enactment provides that an order for the payment of money, other than a fine, made on summary conviction or summarily or in a summary manner in respect of any offence, every Chief Magistrate, Senior Magistrate or Magistrate shall have power to make such order, save that the sum ordered to be paid shall not –

i) in the case of a Chief Magistrate, exceed twenty thousand naira;
ii) in the case of a Senior Magistrate, Grade I, exceed fifteen thousand naira;
iii) in the case of a Senior Magistrate, Grade II, exceed twelve thousand naira;
iv) in the case of a Magistrate, Grade I, exceed ten thousand naira;
v) in the case of a Magistrate, Grade II, exceed five thousand naira.

28. Definition of fine

For the purpose of section 27 of the Law, the expression “fine” shall include any monetary penalty or monetary forfeiture

29. Special Jurisdiction
Where an offence is committed or any cause or matter arises over which a magistrate has jurisdiction in any ship, boat or canoe, such offence may be prosecuted or such cause or matter heard or determined either by the magistrate exercising jurisdiction over the place where the ship, boat or canoe may be at the time when the offence was committed or the cause or matter arose, or by the magistrate exercising jurisdiction over any place where the ship, boat or canoe may call at after the commission of the offence or the arising of the cause or matter.

30. Governor’s power to increase Jurisdiction of Magistrates

(1) The Governor may, on the recommendation of the Chief Judge, by writing under his hand authorize an increased jurisdiction in civil or criminal matters, or in both, to be exercised by any magistrate to such extent as the Chief Judge may on such recommendation specify. Such authority may, at any time, be revoked by the Governor by writing under his hand.

(2) An order by the Governor under the preceding subsection authorizing an increased jurisdiction in criminal matters to be exercised by any magistrate, shall specify the maximum fine and the maximum period of imprisonment which is to replace the maximum sums and periods mentioned in sections 27 and on such order being made the jurisdiction of such magistrate under sections 27 as the case may be, shall be deemed to be increased by the substitution of the maximum sum and the maximum fine and period of imprisonment so specified as each of the places where a particular sum, fine or period of imprisonment is mentioned in the said sections.

(3) An order under subsection (1) may authorize such increased jurisdiction in respect of –

(a) offences under a named act or law or under named acts or laws;

(b) offences specifically referred to under a named act or law or named acts or laws; or

(c) a particular offence for which a person is or persons are then charged.

31. Appeals From Customary Court

Subject to the provisions of any other Law or Act, a magistrate shall hear and determine appeals from customary courts within his district in accordance with the provisions of the Law or Act under which such customary courts are constituted.

32. Power of Executive Council To add to jursidiction

The Executive Council may by order direct that a magistrate’s court may exercise original jurisdiction in all or any of the following matters –

(a) suits which raise an issue as to the title to land or as to the title to any interest in land;
(b) suits in which the validity of a devise, bequest or limitation under will or settlement is or may be disputed;
(c) suits relating to the custody of children under customary law;
(d) causes or matters relating to inheritance upon intestacy under customary law and the administration of intestate estates under customary law; and
(e) matrimonial causes and matters between persons married under customary law or arising from or connected with a union contracted under customary law.

33. Power to increase jurisdiction

(1) The Attorney – General on the recommendation of the Commission, may by notice in the Gazette authorize increased jurisdiction in civil cause or matters to be exercised by any Magistrate to such an existent as the Commission may specify when making such recommendation.

(2)The Attorney – General, on the recommendation of the commission, may by notice in the Gazette authorize any Magistrate to impose punishments exceeding that prescribe under section 28 of this Law to such extent as the Commission may specify when making such recommendation and such authority may be either general or in respect of such of the offences which the magistrate has jurisdiction to try as may be specified in the notice.

(3)An authority given under this section may at any time be revoked by the Attorney – general by notice in the Gazette.

(4)The power conferred further to subsections (1) to (3) above shall be subject to the approval of the Ekiti State House of Assembly by resolution.

34. Execution of High Court processes

Every Magistrate, when so required by the high Court, shall -

a) cause to be executed, any writ, order or process issued from the high court of the state;

b) take security from any person named in writ or order for his appearance in the high court; and

c) in default of security being given or when the high court so orders, send the person to the place named in the writ.

35. Administration of Oaths

(1) Every Magistrate and Justice of the peace is authorized to administer all oaths, which may be taken before him in the exercise of any of the jurisdiction and powers conferred on him by this or any other law.

(2)Oaths may also be administered during trial by a Court clerk or other officer of the court under the direction of the Magistrate.

36. Concurrent Administration of Law and Equity

(1) In every civil cause or matter in the Court, law and equity shall be administered concurrently.

(2) A Magistrate in the exercise of the jurisdiction vested in him by this Law, shall in every cause or matter, have power to grant, and shall grant, either absolutely or on such terms and conditions as shall seem fit, all such remedies as any of the parties may appear to be entitled to, in respect of any legal or equitable claim properly brought forward by them in the cause or matter, to ensure that all matters in controversy between the parties be completely and finally determined, and avoid multiplicity of legal proceedings concerning any of such matters.

(3) In all causes or matters in which there is any conflict or variance between the rules of equity and rules of common law with reference to the same subject, the rules of equity shall prevail.

37. Application of Customary Law

(1) A Magistrates shall observe and enforce the customary law which is applicable and is not repugnant to natural justice, equity, and good conscience or incompatible either directly or by implication Customary Law with any Law for the time being in force, and nothing in this Law shall deprive any person of the benefit of Customary Law.

(2) Customary Law shall be deemed applicable in cause and matters between persons where it may appear to the Court that substantial injustices would be done to their party by a strict adherence to any rules of the law which would otherwise be applicable.

(3) No party shall be entitled to claim the benefit of a customary Law, if it shall appear either from express contract or from the nature of the transactions out of which any suit or question may have arisen that such party agreed that his obligations in connection with such transactions should be exclusively regulated otherwise than by Customary law or that such transactions are trans actions unknown to Customary law.

38. Reconciliation and Mediation in Civil Cases

(1) In civil cases a magistrate shall, so far as there is proper opportunity, promote reconciliation among persons over whom he has jurisdiction, also encourage and facilitate settlement in an amicable way of matters in difference between them.

(2) The Magistrate may refer proceedings in relation to any action, part of or any matter arising out of it, for mediation to the citizens’ Mediation Center established under the Citizens’ mediation center Law and Ekiti Multi- Door Court house.

(3) Reference to mediation under the provision of subsection (2) of this Section shall be made with the consent of the parties to the proceedings.

39. Power of Magistrate to refer to Mediation, conciliation and Arbitration

(1) A Magistrate may, with the consent of the parties refer all or part of the proceedings to mediation and arbitration, the Court shall determine the mediator and arbitrator and also the manner and terms of proceeding as the Court thinks just.

(2) No such reference shall be revocable by any party except with the consent of the magistrate.

(3) On any such reference, the award of the mediators or arbitrators shall be entered as the judgment in the proceedings and shall be and binding and effectual to all intents as if given by the Magistrate.

(4) In Section, the expression “award” includes an interim award.

40. Reconciliation in criminal cases

In criminal cases, a magistrate may encourage the settlement in an amicable way of proceedings for common assault or for any other offence not amounting to felony and not aggravated in degree, on terms of payment of compensation or other terms approved by him.

41. Duties of Legal Practitioner in instituting proceedings in a Magistrate Court
(1) A legal practitioner acting for parties in any proceeding in the magistrate’ Court shall advise the parties to the proceedings on the process of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) that may be used to resolve any matter in dispute.

42. Places of sitting of Courts

The Commission may, by notice in the Gazette, appoint the places where magistrate shall sit for the dispatch of the business of the Court and may in like manner change such places.

43. Court sitting times
(1) The Court shall be opened throughout the year except on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays for the transaction of business, and shall sit at such times as may be determined by the Magistrate subject to the direct of the Commission.

(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1) above at least one Court in every Magisterial District shall be opened and available for business or any given Saturday for the hearing of matters relating to environment and traffic offences

44. Business at any sitting

At any sitting of the Court, a Magistrate may hear, determine and deal with either civil or criminal causes and matters or with both.

45. Adjournments
(1) A Magistrate may adjourn from the date of commencement of trial and during the proceedings for a period not exceeding, fourteen (14) working days.

(2) A Magistrate may, after the matter has been set down for trial at his discretion, grant in -

a) uncontested civil cases, not more than two (2) adjustments;
b) contested civil cases, not more than four (4) adjournments.

(3) The period of adjournment to attend mediation proceeding are excluded from the operation of this Section.

(4) The Magistrate shall endeavour to conclude all criminal matters within ninety (90) days from date of arraignment.

(5) Subject to the provision of this Section, in the event that any of the parties to the action fails to, is unable to or refuses to attend Court or proceed with the cause or matter, the Magistrate shall strike the matter off the cause list and out of the Court or enter judgment in default against the defendant.

(6) For the purpose of this Section, the date of commencement of trial shall be the date set down by the Magistrate for the trial of the action and shall not be later than twenty (20) working days after the date of assignment of the action by the Chief Magistrate.

Provided that where the Magistrate does not set down the action for trial within the stated period, the date of commencement shall be twenty (20) working days from the date of assignment of the action by the Designating Magistrate.

Provided that no cause or matter which has been specifically transferred by the High Court for inquiry or trial by a particular Magistrate, shall again be transferred without the consent of the Chief Judge.

46. Report of cause for transfer

A Magistrate may, of his own motion, or on the application of any person concerned, report to the Chief Magistrate in charge of the District of the pendency to any cause or matter, civil or criminal, which in the opinion of such Magistrate ought for any reason to be transferred from him to another Magistrate or to the High Court and the Chief Magistrate shall direct in what mode and where or by whom the cause or matter shall be heard and determined.

47. Effect of transfer

Every transfer of cause or matter shall operate as stay of proceedings before the Magistrate from whom the proceedings are ordered to be transferred, and the process and proceedings in every such cause or matter, and an attested copy of all entries in the books of the Court relative to it, shall be transmitted to the high Court or the Magistrate specified in the order, as the case may require and all proceedings in the cause or matter shall be taken in that Court or before that Magistrate as if the cause or matter had been commenced in that Court or before that magistrate.

48. No appeal from transfer

No transfer made under the provisions of Sections 43 and 44 shall be subjected to appeal.

49. Practice and procedure

(1) in any proceedings before it, the Magistrate Court shall proceed without undue formality and must endeavor to ensure that the proceedings are not protracted.

(2) Subject to the provision of this Law and any other Law, the practice and procedure of the Court shall in its civil jurisdiction be regulated by rules of Court, and in its criminal jurisdiction be regulated by the provision of the Administration of criminal Justice Law.

50. Proceedings to be heard and disposed of by a single Magistrate

Subject to the provision of Section 47 of this Law and the Child’s Rights Law, all civil and criminal causes or matters and all proceedings in the Court and matters arising from it shall be tried, heard and disposed of by a single Magistrate, and all proceedings in all action subsequent to the hearing or trial down to and including the final judgment or order shall so far as is practicable and convenient, be taken before the Magistrate before whom the trial or hearing took place

51. Completion by magistrate of process begun by predecessor

(1) Where a Magistrate has issued any summons or warrants, or otherwise taken or commenced any proceedings or matter, whether civil or criminal, under any authority however conferred, and subsequently ceases to have or to exercise jurisdiction in respect of such proceeding or matter, it shall be Lawful for the person in whose hands such summons or warrant may be to execute or serve the same in the same manner as if the Magistrate who issued the summons or warrant had not ceased to have or to exercise such jurisdiction, and any person who is the successor of or is acting for such Magistrate may hear, determine, execute, enforce and carry to completion, any proceeding or matter so commenced , except that in the case of such trials, the Magistrate shall commence the hearing afresh.

(2) In any civil action in subsection (1) above, provided that the parties to an action agree, the court may rely on the records without the need to hear fresh evidence.

52. Pleading judgments of other courts in defence

(1) A Judgment of any Court of competent jurisdiction (not being a Court Martial) superior to every Magistrate Court under this Law, in favour of any party to any cause or matter before such Court may, in respect of the same subject matter, be pleaded as a defence to any proceedings commencement by the unsuccessful party to such cause or matter in the Magistrate Court.

(2) Nothing in this Section shall be taken to prevent any judgment, other than a judgment referred to in subsection (1), above being treated as a defence if such judgment could have been so pleaded in the Magistrate Courts established under this Law.

53. Service of process

(1) All summonses, warrants, orders, judgments, writs of execution or other processed or proceedings, whether civil or criminal, issued or taken by the authority of any Magistrate in respect of any cause or matter may be served or executed anywhere within the State by bailiff or a Special Bailiff including a legal practitioner or any person delegated by the Magistrate court Sheriff or a delivery service registered with and approved by the Court Administrator.

(2) All Bailiffs or special Bailiffs including a legal practitioner or any person delegated by the magistrate Courts’ Sheriff shall receive and exercise their power with respect to subsection (1) of this section, under warrant to act as Bailiffs of the Court issued by the magistrates’ Court Sheriff upon the approval of the Court Administrator.

(3) All warrants to act as Bailiff of the Court shall be renewable every twelve (12) months.

54. Failure to report service

(1) Where a Bailiff or special Bailiff without reasonable cause fails to report service within two (2) days of the date of effecting service, the Magistrate’s Courts Sheriff shall suspend the powers contained in the warrant to acts as Bailiff of the court.

(2) Where the Magistrates’ Courts Sheriff has occasion to suspend such warrants to act as a Bailiff on more than two (2) occasions in respect of the same Bailiff or special Bailiff, the Magistrates’ Court Sheriff shall withdraw the warrant to act as Bailiff of the Court without an option to renew.

55. Issuance of process

(1) All summonses, warrants, orders, convictions, recognizance and other process in criminal proceedings shall subject to the provisions of this Law, be signed by a Magistrate or such other officer as may be prescribed by Rules of Court.

(2) Every summons or other process in a civil proceeding shall be signed either by a Magistrate or, if the Magistrate directs, by a Registrar.

56. Inspection by the Court

In any cause a Magistrate may on the application of either party, or in exercise of his discretion, make such order for the inspection by the Court, the parties or witnesses, of any movable or immovable property, the inspection of which may be material to the proper determination of the question in dispute, and give such direction regarding such inspection, as the Magistrate may think fit.

57. Contempt of Court

The Magistrate Court shall have power to punish for contempt of Court where the contempt is committed in the face of the Court or in connection with any proceedings in the Court.

58. Duty of the Police and other Law Enforcement officers to obey magistrate

(1)All police officers and other Law enforcement Officers are authorized and require to obey the warrants, orders and directions of a Magistrate in the exercise of his criminal jurisdiction, and, so far such obedience may be authorized and require by any Law in that behalf, of his civil jurisdiction.

(2) Where any police Officer or other Law enforcement Officers fails to comply with or obey any warrant, order or direction of a Magistrate, the Magistrate, shall cause to be issued a notice to the inspector- General of police, State commissioner of police, or any other appropriate authority or Agency, informing them formally of such disobedience and require compliance by the said Officer and the Magistrate may take any other additional action that is deemed fit against such Police Officer, or other Law enforcement Officer.

59. Powers of magistrate to appoint special witnesses

(1) A Magistrate shall have power to appoint a special witness in circumstances where the opinion of such person is either relevant or is in issue to determine the real issues in controversy where –

a) any civil proceeding which require any prolonged examination of documents or any scientific or local investigation which cannot, in the opinion of the magistrate, conveniently be made before him;

b) in any civil proceedings, where the question in dispute consist wholly or in part of accounts; or

c) with the consent of the parties, any other matter arising out of the civil proceeding before him which, for reason to be recorded by him, he is satisfied that it is proper to so appoint.

(2) Where any civil proceedings or any question require the appointment of a special witness as in subsection (1) of this Section, the Magistrate shall direct how the appointment shall be done, and may remit any report for further inquiry and report or further report and may give such judgment or make such order in the proceedings as may be just.

(3) The Magistrate may require the special witness to give a written opinion under oath on any matter of accounts which is in dispute between the parties in civil proceedings and, in delivering judgment, the Magistrate may use the report presented to him by the by the special witness as if such report were facts found by him in the course of the trial.

60. Evidence of prisoners
(1) in any proceeding pending before the Court, a Magistrate may, if he thinks fits, on application either orally or in writing by any party, issue a warrant or order under his hand for bringing up before the Court any person (referred to in this Section as “a prisoner”) confined in any place under sentence or under commitment for trials or otherwise, to be examined as a witness in the proceedings

(2) The prisoner mentioned in any such warrant or order shall be brought before the Court under the same custody, and shall be dealt with in the same manner in all respects, as a prisoner require by warrant to be brought before the High Court and examined as a witness:

Provided that in civil proceedings, the person having the custody of the prisoner shall not be bound to obey the warrant or order unless there is tendered to him a reasonable sum for transporting and maintaining both the Officer and the prisoner for that purpose.

61. Power to arrest defendant leaving Nigeria

(1) Where the claimant in any action proves, at anytime before final judgment, by evidence on oath to the satisfaction of a Magistrate that-

a) he has good cause of action within the limits of the jurisdiction of such magistrate as prescribed by section 26 of this law against the defendant to an amount not lesser than two hundred and fifty thousand naira (n200,000.00)

b) there is probable cause for believing that the defendant is about to leave nigeria unless he is apprehended; and

c) the absence of the defendant from nigeria will materially prejudice the claimant in the prosecution of his action, the magistrate may, in the manner prescribed by the rules of court, order that the defendant be arrested

(2) The defendant shall, upon his arrest, be brought as soon as practicable before the Magistrate and the action shall be heard and determined and all proceedings consequent upon it shall immediately be taken, or the Magistrate may if he thinks fit adjourn the hearing to a reasonable time, and he may release the defendant in either of the following cases, but not otherwise-

a) if the defendant deposits to the office of the court administrator by way of security, an amount equivalent to the sum claimed, and the cost of the action; or

b) if the defendant gives security to the claimant by bond and one sufficient surety, to be approved by a magistrate, in an amount double the sum claimed and cost for the defendants’ appearance at the hearing, the bond to remain in the custody of the registrar.

(3) if an adjournment is made and the defendant fails to make the deposit or to give the security as prescribed Section (2) of this Section, the Magistrate may commit him to prison until the action is finally heard and determined:

Provided that-

a) no such commitment shall be for a term exceeding seven (7) days, but without prejudice to the power of the magistrate to remand the defendant from time, save that no such imprisonment shall exceed fourteen (14) days; and

b) upon the final adjudication of the action, the magistrate shall order the release of the defendant if he is at the time in custody.

(4) If judgment is given for the claimant at the hearing, the Magistrate may order payment to the claimant out of the sum, if any, deposited as security by the defendant, the amount of the debt and costs and shall repay the surplus, if any, to the defendant

(5) If a bond is given and the defendant does not appear at the hearing and judgment is given for the claimant, execution may be levied on the bond to recovered the amount of the judgment and cost awarded by the Magistrate; but if the defendant appears at the hearing, the Magistrate shall where judgment has been given, cancel the bond and deliver it up to the defendant.

62. Judgment
(1) A Magistrate shall deliver judgment in every action or matter not later than twenty- one (21) working days after close of trial

(2) In appropriate cases, the Magistrate may deliver judgment and reserve reasons to a later date not exceeding twenty- one (21) working days.

(3) In any case where judgment has been prepared by a Magistrate and such Magistrate is unavailable for any reason to deliver same , another Magistrate may read such judgment

63. Finality of judgment

Subject to the provisions of this law or any other law relating to judgments and orders, every judgment and order of the Court shall be final and conclusive between the parties

Provided that the magistrate shall have power to non-suit the claimant in every case in which satisfactory proof shall not be given entitling either the claimant or defendant to judgment

64. Evidence of record of proceedings

Any record require to be kept by the provisions of this Law or by the rules of Court relating to the proceedings of the Court, or a copy of an extract purporting to be signed and certified a true copy by a Magistrate and the Court Recorder, shall at all times without further proof be received in any Court as evidence of the record of proceeding copied (as the case may be) and of the proceeding referred to and of the regularity of that proceeding.

65. Executor may sue and be sued

(1) An Executor or Administrator may sue and be sued in the Court as a party

(5) Judgments and execution involving an Executor or Administrator should be as would be given in like cases in the High Court.

66. Procedure where persons are jointly liable

(1) Where a claimant has a demand recoverable under this Law against two or more persons who are jointly liable, it shall be sufficient to serve any of those persons with the process, and judgment may be obtained and execution issued against any of the persons so served, notwithstanding that others jointly liable may not have been served or sued or may not be within the jurisdiction of the court.

(2)Where judgment is obtained against any of the persons mentioned in subsection (1) above and the person is satisfied by the judgment, he shall be entitled to recover contribution from any other person jointly liable with him.

67. Prosecution in criminal cases

Prosecution in criminal cases in Magistrate Courts in the State shall be undertaken by -

(a) law officers; and
(b) police officers and other law enforcement agents who are legal practitioners.

68. Appointment and duties of magistrate Court Sheriff

Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law to the contrary, there is appointed the Magistrate Court Sheriff, who shall be responsible for the service of processes, enforcement of judgments, orders and other ancillary matters of the Magistrate Courts.

69. Appeal by prosecutor

The prosecutor may appeal as of right to the High Court where

(a) an accused person has been acquitted or an order of dismissal has been made by a Magistrate from the acquittal or dismissal on the ground that it is erroneous in law or that the proceedings or any part of it were in excess of the jurisdiction of the Magistrate; or

(b) a person has been convicted by a Magistrate of an offence in respect of which the Magistrate is required by any Law to impose a minimum sentence or make any order prescribed by that or any other law on the ground that the Magistrate has failed to impose such sentence or make such order.

70. Appeal by a convicted person
Any person convicted of a criminal offence by a Magistrate having jurisdiction to try the offence may appeal to the High Court before the expiration of thirty (30) days after the Judgment was delivered or order of the Magistrate was given as stated in Section 71 of this Law.

71. Criminal appeal procedure

(1) An appeal from a decision of a Magistrate in criminal proceeding under the relevant provision of the Constitution or under the provisions of this Law, shall be commenced by the appellant giving to the Registrar of the Magistrate Court, notice of appeal setting out the particular grounds on which he relies or of which he complains before the expiration of thirty (30) days after the judgment of the Magistrate was given.

(2) Where an appellant has been sentenced to imprisonment of other remedial detention, the Magistrate shall release him from custody on his entering into a recognizance, with or without sureties, and in such reasonable sum as the Magistrate thinks fit at the hearing of the appeal, or with the consent of the Magistrate, other security for his appearance.

(3) The Magistrate shall have a discretion whether to release the appellant from custody or not if –

(a) the appellant has previously served a sentence of not less than six (6) months imprisonment; or

(b) there is evidence upon which the Magistrate, having regard among other things to the offence which the appellant has been convicted and to any previous convictions which may have been recorded against the appellant, may reasonably presume that the appellant, if release from custody is likely to –

i. commit some further offence; or
ii. evade or attempt to evade justice by absconding or otherwise disappearing

(4) If the Magistrate refuses to grant an application for the release of the appellant from custody, the appellant may apply to the High Court for such release, and the High Court may either refuse to grant the application or make an order for the release of the appellant on such conditions as it thinks fit

(5) Where an appellant who has been released from custody upon entering into a recognizance under the provision of this Section commits a breach of the recognizance, the High Court may –

(a) issue a warrant for his arrest;

(b) either dismiss the appeal under the High Court Law or order that it shall be heard on a subsequent date, and for such purpose may either require a further recognizance or order the appellant to be kept in custody pending the determination of the appeal; and

(c) order the first mentioned recognizance of the appellant and his surety or sureties to be forfeited in whole or in part.

(6) Notwithstanding the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law, where a sentence of imprisonment imposed by a Magistrate is confirmed on appeal by the High Court, or another sentence of imprisonment is substituted, any period during which the appellant was released from custody under the provisions of this subsection and, subject to any directions which the High Court may give when determining the appeal, any period during which he was kept in custody under the provisions of this Section shall be excluded in computing the time for which he was or is sentenced.

(7) Subject to the provisions of the High Court Law and this Law, the practice and procedure in criminal appeals from the Magistrate Courts shall be in accordance with Rules of Court made under the High Court Law and subject to the Rules of Court made under this Law.

72. Power of chief judge to require returns of criminal cases

The Chief Judge may require specified Magistrates to forward at the expiration of every calendar month to the Chief Judge or to such other Judge, as the Chief may designate in such form as rules of court may direct, a list containing all criminal cases or specified criminal cases decided by or brought before such magistrates.

73. Right of appeal in civil proceedings

(1) Other than appeals from the Magistrate Courts sitting on an appeal over the decision of a Customary Court where appeals shall be as of right, the permission of the Court shall be required in all civil appeals.

(2) An applicant applying for permission of the Court shall in the first instance bring an application before a Magistrate Court and subsequently before the High Court where the application for permission to appeal is refused by a Magistrate Court.

(3) There shall be no right of appeal against an interlocutory decision of a Magistrate Court subject to subsection (1) of this Section

74. Civil appeal procedure

Subject to the provisions of this Law, the practice, procedure and manner of appeals in civil proceedings shall be in accordance with Rules of Court made under the High Court Law, and subject to the Rules of Court made under this Law.

75. Additional Evidence

The appeal court may, in any case where it may consider it necessary that evidence should be adduced, either –
(a) order such evidence to be adduced before the court on some day to be fixed in that behalf; or
(b) refer the case back to the magistrate to take such evidence, and may in such case either direct the magistrate afresh after taking such evidence and subject to such directions in law, if any, as the court may think fit to give, or direct him, after taking such evidence, to report specific findings of fact for the information of the court, and on any such reference the case shall, so far as may be practicable and necessary, be dealt with as if it were being heard in the first instance

76. Mode of taking additional evidence

(1)When additional evidence is to be taken by a magistrate and specific findings of fact reported he shall certify such evidence to the appeal court which thereupon proceed to dispose of the appeal.

(2) Unless the appeal court otherwise directs, the appellant or the legal practitioner representing him shall be present when the additional evidence is taken.

(3) Evidence taken in pursuance of section 102 shall be taken as if it were evidence taken at the trial before the Magistrate’s Court.

(4) When forwarding to the appeal court any additional evidence taken by a magistrate in pursuance of section 102, the magistrate may express his opinion on the demeanour of the witnesses and of the value of their evidence and may also, if he is the magistrate against whose decision the appeal has been made, state whether or not he would have come to a different decision had the additional evidence been brought forward at the trial.

77. Enforcement of Judgment by Court of trial

(1) Upon the receipt of a certificate of the judgment or order of the High Court on an appeal, and subject to the provision contained in this Section, a Magistrate Courts’ Sheriff shall have the power to enforce, and shall enforce, any decision which may have been affirmed, modified, amended or substituted by the High Court, or any judgment which may have been pronounced by the high court in the same manner in all respects as if such decision or judgment had been pronounced by the Magistrate.

(2) Any judgment or order of the Magistrates’ Courts shall be enforced by the Magistrate Courts’ Sheriff or by persons delegated to act on his behalf.

78. Appeal not to operate as stay of execution

Subject to the provisions of Section 69 of this Law, an appeal shall not operate as a stay of execution but a Magistrate or the High Court may order a stay of execution either unconditionally or upon the performance of such conditions as may be imposed in accordance with Rules of Court.

79. Abatement of appeals

Every criminal appeal, other than an appeal from a sentence of fine, shall abate on the death of the appellant.

80. Attorney – General may require a case to be stated

Where, in any criminal case in which no public officer is a party and the Attorney – General is of the opinion that any decision of a Magistrate is erroneous in law, he may, at any time within six (6) months from the date of the decision, require the Magistrate to state a case on it for the opinion of the High Court.

81. Contents of case stated

A case stated by a magistrate shall set out the –
(a) charge, summons, information or complaint;
(b) facts found by the Magistrate to be admitted or proved;
(c) submission of law made by or on behalf of the complainant during the trial or inquiry;
(d) submission of law made by or on behalf of the accused during the trial or inquiry;
(e) the finding of, and in case of conviction, the sentence imposed by the Magistrate; and
(f) question of law which the Attorney – general requires to be submitted for the opinion of the High Court

82. Reservation of question of law for opinion of High Court

In addition to and without prejudice to the right of appeal conferred by this or any other law, a Magistrate may reserve for consideration by the High Court on a case to be stated by him any question of law which may arise in any cause or matter before him and may give judgment or decision subject to the opinion of the High court.

83. Payment and recovery of fees prescribed by Rules of Court

(1) Subject to the other provisions of this Section, fees and other amounts payable under the Rules of Court in respect to any proceeding specified in this Law, shall be paid to the Court Administrator or other person appointed to receive same and if payable in respect of any proceeding in a cause, shall in the first instance be paid by the party on whose behalf the proceeding is to be taken but may in the discretion of the Magistrate Court, if the decision in the cause be given against the other party, be recovered against the other party.

(2)Subject to the provisions of this Law, fee chargeable in any proceedings in a Magistrate Court shall be as prescribed by the Chief Judge.

(3) No fees or other sums shall be paid by the State or any public Officer in respect of a matter in which the State or a Public Officer is a party in his official capacity to the action
(4) Except as otherwise provided under this Section, there shall be no exemption from the payment of fees or other sums payable under this Law.

84. Application of Section 79 to other fees

Except as otherwise provided by any law, the provisions of Section 79 shall apply in relation to fees or other sums required to be paid under any law in respect of any proceeding in the Magistrate Court as they apply in relation to fees or other sums required to be paid under the Rules of Court.

85. Fines to be paid to Office of the Court Administrator

All fines, penalties, forfeitures or other moneys payable under the provisions of any law in respect of any proceeding in the Magistrate Court shall be paid to the Office of the Court Administrator or other persons appointed by the Rules of Court to receive same.

86. Budget

The Court Administrator shall in consultation with the Chief Magistrate Administration be responsible for preparing and presenting the budget of the Magistracy to the commission.

87. Accounts and Reports

(1) The Magistracy shall keep accounts of its transactions and conform to the best commercial accounting standards.

(2) The accounts shall be audited annually by an auditor appointed by the Commission.

(3) The Governor may subject to any Appropriation Law, make payment to the Magistracy in accordance with this Law by way of grant, subsidy, charges or fee.

(4) There shall be established by this law, a magistrate salary scale (MSS) which structure shall be determined by the State House of Assembly

(5) The salaries and allowances of magistrates shall be fixed from time to time by the House of Assembly.

(6) In addition to the benefits accruable to Law officers under the Legal Officers (Harmonization with Judicial officers) Law, Cap L6, Laws of Ekiti State 2012, all the benefits, emoluments salaries and conditions of service pertaining and or applicable to the Magistrates under this Law shall also apply to Legal Officers in the Ministry of Justice,Ekiti State

88. Annual Report

The Commission shall, not later than three (3) months after the close of each financial year furnish the Governor with a copy of the audited accounts, state of affairs and activities of the Magistracy.

89. Trainings

The Commission shall arrange, administer and fund training programmes and seminars for the Magistrates from time to time.

90. Pension and Gratuity

(1) As from the commencement of this Law, the Commission shall be responsible for the payment of pension, gratuity and other retirement benefits of Magistrates who retire after the commencement of this Law.

(2) A magistrate shall serve on the Commission a notice of his intention to retire and less than three (3) months before his retirement

(3) The provisions of this Law and of the Pension Reform Law shall apply and regulate the pension rights of Magistrates in the State

(4) The age of a Magistrate shall be deemed to be the age submitted by him upon entering the Judicial Service of the State in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and under the Pension Reform Law.

91. Refusal by Magistrate to do an act relating to his office

In all cases where a Magistrate or Justice of the Peace refuses to do any act relating to the duties of his office; it shall be lawful for the party enquiring the act to be done to apply to the High Court for an Order of Mandamus and, if the High Court makes the order, no action or proceeding whatsoever shall be commenced or prosecuted against the Magistrate or Justice of the Peace for having obeyed the order.

92. Protection of judicial officers

(1) No Magistrate or Justice of the Peace shall be liable for any act done by him or ordered by him to be done in the discharged of his judicial duty, whether or not within the limits of his jurisdiction, provided that he at the time, in good faith, believed himself to have jurisdiction to do or order to be done the act in question

(2) No person required or bound to execute any warrant or order issued by a Justice of the Peace shall, solely on the ground that the Magistrate or Justice of the Peace who issued it was not acting within the limits of his jurisdiction in so doing, be liable in any action for damages in respect of the execution of such warrant or order.

93. Representation of the state and Government Departments

(1) In the case of a prosecution by or on behalf of the State or by any public officer in his official capacity, the State or that officer may be represented by a Law Officer. State Counsel or Police Officer as defined in Section 67 of this Law, or by any Legal Practitioner or other person duly authorized in that behalf by or on behalf of the Attorney – General.

(2) In any civil cause or matter to which the State or any Public Officer in his official capacity is a party or in any civil cause or matter affecting the revenues of the State, the State or that officer may be represented by a Law Officer or State Counsel or by any legal Practitioner or other person duly authorized in that behalf by or on behalf of the Attorney – General.

94. Rules of Court

(1) The Rules applicable to the Magistrate Courts are as set out in the Magistrate Court (Civil Procedure) Rules and any other relevant Rules as may be prescribed from time to time

(2) Subject to the provisions of this Law, the Chief Judge may make any subsequent Rules of Court for all or any of the following purposes and matters –

(a) regulating the practice and procedure of the Magistrate Courts in civil proceedings in respect of which no specific provision is made in this or any other law, including all matters connected with the forms to be used;

(b) regulating the practice and procedure in civil appeals and in criminal appeals from the Magistrate Courts and the fees and costs on such appeals, where no provision has been made by the High Court Law or by this Law; and

(c) The reference of civil proceedings to mediation and arbitration and all matters relating and incidental the remuneration and fees of arbitrators.

(3) Rules of Court made under this Section shall apply to all proceedings by or against the State.

(4) The jurisdiction and powers conferred on a Magistrate by virtue of any existing law (or administrative functions) shall continue to apply after the commencement of this Law

(6) Nothing in this Law shall be construed to affect the appointment, tenure of office or powers or status of any Justice of the Peace holding office as such within the State on the coming into operation of this Law

95. Savings

Nothing in this Law shall be construed to affect the appointment, tenure of office, powers or status of any Justice of the Peace holding office as such within the State on the coming into operation of this Law.

96. Repeal
The Magistrates’ Courts Law Cap MI of 2010 is hereby repealed

97. Interpretation

In this Law, unless the context otherwise requires –

  1. “Action” includes a civil proceeding commenced in such manner as may be prescribed by rules of court, but does not include a criminal proceeding:
  2. “Attorney – General” means the Attorney – General of Ekiti State;
  3. “Bailiff” means a person authorized by a Sheriff to carry out the service of Court processes or the enforcement of Court orders and judgments under a warrant to act as a Bailiff;
  4. “Cause” includes an action, suit or other original proceeding between a claimant and a defendant, and any criminal proceeding;
  5. “Chief Judge” means the Chief Judge of Ekiti State;
  6. “Civil proceedings” means all actions including appeals triable by a Magistrate and all proceedings in relation to the making of an order for the payment of a sum of money or for the doing or abstaining from doing of any act or thing not enforceable by fine or imprisonment in the first instance including appeals from Customary courts;
  7. “Claimant” includes every person asking for any relief (otherwise than by way of counter-claim as a defendant) against any other person by any form of proceeding, whether summons, petition or otherwise;
  8. “Commission” means the Judicial Service Commission of Ekiti State;
  9. “Constitution: means the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria;
  10. “Court” means a Magistrate’s Court established by this Law;
  11. “Court Administrator” means a Court Administrator of Ekiti State appointed under this Law;
  12. “Court House” means any premises which contains Magistrate Courts;
  13. “Court Recorder” means any person appointed as a Court Recorder under this Law;
  14. “Criminal proceedings” includes quasi-criminal matters with reference to matters of jurisdiction and comprises all proceedings which are not civil proceedings;
  15. “Defendant” includes every person entitled to defend any civil proceedings or charged under any process of the court with any crime or offence, and also every person served with any summons or process other than a witness summons or a subpoena;
  16. “Chief Magistrate Administration” means the Magistrate who shall be responsible for assigning cases in each Court house;
  17. “Gazette” means official Gazette of Ekiti State;
  18. “Guardian” includes guardian ad litem, committee and next friend;
  19. “High Court” means the High Court of Ekiti State;
  20. “Interpreter” includes but not limited to an interpreter of language, Braille or of sign language;
  21. “Judge” means a judge of the High Court of Ekiti State and includes the Chief Judge;
  22. “Justice of the Peace” means a Justice of the Peace appointed under the provisions of this Law;
  23. “Law officer” means any state counsel, legal officer or person appointed to act as state counsel by the Attorney – General and includes the Attorney – General and the Solicitor – General;
  24. “Magistracy” means Magistrate as a group and the institution;
  25. “Magistrate” means any Magistrate appointed under this Law;
  26. “Magistrate Court” means a Court established by this Law;
  27. “Magistrate Courts Sheriff” means an officer of the Magistracy responsible for the regulation of the service of all court processes, orders and enforcement of all judgments and orders of the Magistracy;
  28. “Matter” includes every proceeding in the court not in an action;
  29. “Prisoner” means any person against whom a remand or custodian order has been made;
  30. “Registrar” means a registrar appointed under the provisions of this Law;
  31. “Rules of Court” means rules made under this Law;
  32. “Solicitor-General” means the Solicitor-General of Ekiti State
  33. “Special Bailiff” means any legal practitioner or delivery service authorized by the Magistrates’ Courts Sheriff to carry out the service of court processes or the enforcement of court orders and judgment under a warrant;
  34. “State” means Ekiti State of Nigeria;
  35. “Summary trial” means any trial before a Magistrate’s Court;
  36. “Uncontested action” means a trial in a civil action in which the defendant does not oppose the claim;

98. Citation

This Law may be cited as the Magistrates’ Courts Law, 2013.

SCHEDULE
Magisterial Districts In Ekiti State

1. Ado – Ekiti Magisterial District
2. Aramoko – Ekiti Magisterial District
Okemesi Magistrates Courts
3. Efon – Ekiti Magisterial District
4. Emure – Ekiti Magisterial District
5. Erinjiyan – Ekiti Magisterial District
6. Ido – Ekiti Magisterial District
7. Ayetoro Magistrate’s Courts
8. Igede – Ekiti Magisterial District
Iyin – Ekiti Magistrate Court
Igbemo – Ekiti Magistrate Court
9. Ijero – Ekiti Magisterial District
10. Iloro – Ekiti Magistrate Court
11. Ikere – Ekiti Magisterial District
12. Ikole – Ekiti Magisterial District
13. Ilawe – Ekiti Magisterial District
14. Ise – Ekiti Magisterial District
15. Iye – Ekiti Magisterial District
16. Ode – Ekiti Magisterial District
17. Omuo – Ekiti Magisterial District
18. Otun – Ekiti Magisterial District
19. Oye – Ekiti Magisterial District
20. Ilupeju Magistrate Court

MADE THIS ……….DAY OF…………….. 2013

………………………………..
DR. JOHN KAYODE FAYEMI
GOVERNOR, EKITI STATE