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Mobile Court in Nigeria

Mobile Court in Nigeria

The term “mobile court” refers to a type of court that goes from one location to another, as opposed to a court that is housed in one location, to adjudicate laws to provide justice. The Mobile Court was designed to save time, cut legal and other costs, go to the scene of the crime, and deliver justice quickly.

Mobile Court is the best option today to get the lowest cost law services and fastest court judgment. The best option today for getting the cheapest legal services and the quickest court ruling is to go to Mobile Court. The majority of cases are resolved quickly by the mobile court, which is led by a magistrate. Because a Mobile Court is presided over by a Magistrate, the practice and procedure of that state’s Magistrates’ Court will undoubtedly benefit such a mobile court.

Mobile court connotes a special arrangement of the court which moves from place to place, as opposed to, the court in the enclosed place, to adjudicate laws for the ulterior purpose of ensuring justice. The types of offenses that mobile courts can prosecute vary and rely on each country’s legislative structure and the style of the mobile court that the authorities choose. Due to the non-permanent character of these courts, countries frequently prefer to limit their jurisdiction to more straightforward disputes that may be resolved in a few brief court sessions.

The use of mobile courts has allowed cases to be heard in remote regions where the local populace would not otherwise have had access to the legal system. Victims and witnesses have been able to engage in procedures and testify as a result, bolstering the victim-centered approach to justice.

Mobile courts boost public trust in the judicial system by demonstrating that the government is willing to apprehend and prosecute offenders who commit crimes in remote places. Because they do not have the space or time to hold a full-fledged trial, these mobile courts administer justice hastily and arbitrarily.

Roles of Mobile Court in Enhancing Access to Justice

There are several roles of the mobile court in enhancing access to justice for displaced persons and they include:

  1. Enhancing Public Legitimacy and Confidence:

Today, the judiciary is being attacked from all sides and the public enthusiasm in the justice delivery is receding. It is not merely of some importance, but it is of fundamental importance that justice should not only be done but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done. The Court of Appeal in the case of PDP v Jime & Ors per Habeeb Adewale Olumuyiwa Abiru, JCA held:

The justice delivery system is in the business of service delivery to the members of the public. Thus, it behooves every stakeholder in the justice system to take all necessary steps to promote a cost-effective, timely, and efficient system so as to engender public confidence in our justice system. We must never lose sight of the fact that justice is rooted in public confidence and is essential to social order and security. It is the bond of society and the cornerstone of human togetherness. Justice is the condition in which the individual is able to identify with society, feel at one with it and accept its rulings. The moment members of the society lose confidence in the system of administration of justice, a descent to anarchy begins.

Indisputably, parity of treatment in the administration of justice demands the maintenance of a complete balance in the scale of justice. Thus, procedural inequality or unfairness is not welcome in mobile court trials.

Mobile courts must do substantial, justice-stark justice, based on fairness, which, for all intents and purposes, tries to not only assure fairness in the administration of justice, but is also clearly visible and duly accepted as justice both in content and context by all and sundry. In terms of public legitimacy, confidence, and trust in the integrity and delivery of justice among displaced persons, mobile courts play a key role.

2. Expedite Justice:

Delays in case resolution encourage people to raise their eyebrows, sometimes legitimately, which, if not addressed, can undermine public faith in the legal system. As a result, in displacement camps, a mobile court system is needed to expedite justice through summary trial procedures. In nations where courts are concentrated in capitals and distant areas are not well connected by highways, mobile courts are the most effective way of decreasing judicial delays and allowing more disadvantaged groups to access the justice system.

In refugee camps, mobile courts have been utilized to improve justice. They were first introduced in 1998 in Kenya’s Dabaas and Kakuma Camps, where local magistrates would in principle, visit every month to hear cases, and UNHCR would monitor the proceedings and provide material and advisory assistance to witnesses.

The non-appearance of displaced persons who are either parties or witnesses in court as a result of long-distance to courts which usually result in repeated court adjournments, delay in execution of the speedy process can be remedied with the establishment of mobile courts in displacement settlement camps.

3. On-spot judgment delivery:

By arranging on-the-spot and expedient judgments, the mobile court brings about a fundamental transformation in the way the country’s laws are enforced, restoring citizens’ faith in the courts. The purpose of a mobile court’s on-the-spot trial procedure is to prevent widespread law violations by a large number of culprits in a given region.

It is an excellent instrument for reducing crime and assisting law enforcement agencies in maintaining society’s law and order. Punishment on the spot creates a positive impression in people’s eyes since it provides them the impression of a proactive administration and allows them to observe the proceedings in public. The victim’s access to the trial is made easier by the use of a mobile court. For practical reasons, because they do not have to physically move to testify, but also for psychological reasons, because victims may find it easier to speak in a familiar and safe place.

This is especially critical when the crime is fresh or has the potential to stigmatize the victim, such as sexual violence. When the court relocates to a displaced person camp, it becomes a symbol of the state, particularly the sovereign ability to administer justice. As a result, this approach has both an instructional and a deterrent effect. Both victims and criminals witness justice being carried out, reinforcing the idea that no one is above the law.

In 2007, Yogesh Kumar Sabharwal, said: “People generally go to courts to get justice but today with mobile courts, the courts will come to the people.” Unlike traditional courts, mobile courts bring a full remedial package to the scene of the crime, including a magistrate, prosecutor, and police officers. An accused person can be brought to justice in a matter of hours if he confesses to his guilt.

On a small scale, this innovation has a huge impact on the quality of court services, benefiting everyone from overloaded magistrates to prosecutors to the general public. Mobile Courts enhance the formal justice system’s function in remote locations, allowing for the establishment of justice institutions where none previously existed.

If criminal courts are to assist to a reduction in crime, it will not be by crowding more individuals into already overcrowded prisons and jails; instead, mobile courts in Nigeria apply fines and community service in accordance with the sentence constraints set on them.

Under the ACJA, the court, in exercising its powers to sentence the convict shall have regard to the need to: (a) reduce congestion in prisons; (b) rehabilitate prisoners by making them undertake productive work, and (c) prevent convicts who commit simple offences from mixing with hardened criminals.

As a result, the use of fines and community service as a punishment has given justice a human face, and the impact of community service as a sentencing helps to alleviate the trauma that these displaced folks are already experiencing while also helping to decongest our prisons.

4. Peacekeeping:

In peacekeeping missions, mobile courts help achieve a variety of objectives. They are a tool in the battle against impunity, which is common in distant areas where mobile courts operate, and they help to build national accountability systems. They give victims direct and quick access to justice, as well as the opportunity to witness justice being carried out in front of their eyes; this, in turn, can help communities heal after conflicts and increase people’s trust in the formal justice systems.

As problems are resolved by legal methods rather than through violence, mobile courts contribute to the promotion of a peaceful society. These courts can play a key role in the post-conflict normalization of society and the development of long-term stability by handling non-criminal cases.

Mobile courts are frequently supported by kinds of outreach that can educate the local community about a variety of justice and reconciliation-related concerns. Mobile courts help to extend state authority and boost state visibility in rural areas by bringing state officials to areas where they are not normally present, which promotes peace and stability.

Challenges of Mobile Court

Because mobile courts are held in rural locations or places with a weak state presence, security and logistics are frequently a concern. Another issue is that the local populace may regard prosecutions for acts of conflict-related violence as favoring one of the fighting factions; as a result, mobile court sessions must be accompanied by outreach programs that clarify the prosecuting approach. Managing the expectations of local people who sometimes want speedy convictions and/or harsh penalties for criminals is particularly difficult. In circumstances where criminals are acquitted or given light sentences, clear messaging is especially vital.

Furthermore, the mobile court has limited jurisdiction concerning the matters they handle. They are not empowered to handle matters bothering on capital offences and fundamental rights cases because it is only the High Court that is empowered to handle such cases. In the instance that the mobile court declines jurisdiction to entertain matters of capital offence, the suspect is being remanded and the time frame within which the matter will be heard due to lack of facility is uncertain and this leads to congestion of our prison facilities. In an attempt to have a speedy justice delivery, it may lead to miscarriage of justice. It is pertinent to state that the mobile court should not sacrifice justice at the altar of its speedy dispensation.

 

Read also: International Treaties on Environmental Regulation

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