Legal practitioners have applauded the directive by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Tanko Mohammad for ordering the suspension of all court sittings except in matters that are urgent, for 14 days because of COVID-19.
Speaking to the News Agency of Nigeria on Wednesday, the lawyers said the directive was a welcomed development as only those who were alive could seek justice.
Florence Dagema, who practices in the Federal Capital Territory, said that she had expected the directive to come a lot earlier.
“It is better late than never, I wish the courts had closed earlier. The court is a very public place so a lot of people who come to court could have travelled abroad during this period.
”Since symptoms of the virus don’t show immediately, they won’t know if they were exposed to it and might pass it on to unsuspecting people in the court putting them and their families at risk.”
She advised all lawyers, who may have travelled abroad during this period to self-isolate and get tested.
Also Dooshima Odoh, told NAN that the situation was getting scary by the day with reported new cases daily.
”I didn’t feel safe going to court anymore.
”I was very skeptical going to court, but because I already had fixed dates, I had to go just to reschedule.
”I was very apprehensive on my way because I used public transport and even though some other people were being careful and keeping social distance, others were making fun of it.
”So, I was really happy when I heard of the directive because it meant I wouldn’t have to leave the house again except if there was an emergency.“
Speaking to NAN from Asaba, Ferdinand Nwankwo, said it was better for the courts to be closed to help the country contain the spread of the Coronavirus.
“I am sure everyone will understand that in this case, justice delayed will amount to ensuring long life and not justice denied.
”If you insist that the courts be opened because you want to get justice and get exposed to the virus and die, what good will that do you or your family?
Mr Nwankwo also urged all lawyers and Nigerians in general to self isolate if they had travelled to any of the countries affected recently to forestall further spread in Nigeria.
The CJN had on March 23 directed all court heads to suspend sittings in their courts for a period of two weeks beginning from March 24 except for matters that were urgent, essential or time bound.
NAN reports that the CJN also ordered that anyone who refuses to undergo temperature screening at every court entrance should be asked to go back.
The notice, pasted at the court entrances, said all staff and court visitors (including lawyers, litigants, press, orderlies) were asked to comply with the directive.
“Anyone who refuses will be sent back. Prevention is better than cure,” he said in a circular to all courts.
NAN also reports that the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control on Thursday said that Rivers recorded its first case of Covid-19, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 51.