By Ene Asuquo
Cross River state governor, Professor Ben Ayade Thursday signed the state’s Magistrate Jurisdiction Law 2022.
The law increases the jurisdiction of magistrate courts in the state on civil matters.
The signing ceremony which was witnessed by top government functionaries, held at the Executive Chamber of the Governor’s Office, Calabar.
The governor maintained that with the law in place, the administration of justice is now closer to the people.
“The social import of this exercise is that we are taking the administration of the law closer to our people so that those who have need to approach the courts will not have to look for a High court, but can now access justice anywhere there is a magistrate just because of the increased jurisdiction.
“With this, access to law, access to legal services, access to justice is now closer to our people” the governor said.
According to him, “It is in my exercise of the powers conferred on me as Governor by section 31, sub section 1 of the Magistrate Court Law of Cross River State of Nigeria 2004, that l hereby sign to law, an order which will increase the jurisdiction of Magistrate Court in civil matters. The order shall come into effect on the 3rd of November, which is today.”
Ayade commended Justice Ikpeme “for being very very balanced in all the recommendations that have come before me.”
Earlier in her remarks, Justice Ikpeme noted that the last time the jurisdictions of Magistrate Courts were increased in the state was on July 25th, 2005.
Commending Ayade for signing the law, the Cross state Chief Judge said: “Today, 17 years after, the digital governor has signed into law, an increase in the jurisdiction of magistrate courts in civil matters, and it is to the following effects: Chief magistrate court 1; The limit before now was 7 million Naira, it has now been raised to 10 million Naira, Chief magistrate court 2 has been raised to 7 million Naira, senior magistrate grade 1 is now 5 million Naira, senior magistrate grade 2 is now 3 million Naira and magistrate grade 1 is 2 million Naira”
According to her, every local government area of the state now has a Chief magistrate court where cases can be filed.
“I want to congratulate our Governor for doing this. When l suggested it to him he immediately agreed and l want to say today, the judiciary appreciates you very much”, the Chief Judge stated.