From Bassey Williams, Yenagoa.
The Bayelsa State Chief Judge, Hon. Justice Kate Abiri has inaugurated a five-member management committee of the small claims court in line with the provisions of the Presidential Enabling Business Council (PEBEC) to curb the hardships and challenges of carrying out business activities in Nigeria.
Performing the ceremony at the High court complex, Ovom in Yenagoa, the Chief Judge said the inauguration of the small claims court marks the beginning of legal inclusiveness for a majority of aggrieved persons whose claims are denied space and time in a congested and expensive dispute resolutions platform.
Speaking further, Hon. Abiri said the court is dedicated to the quick resolution of commercial disputes where claims are not above five million naira adding that to demonstrate the judiciary’s preparedness for the smooth take-off, a two-day training session was organized for the magistrates and other personnel of the court in November last year.
Giving an insight into the operations and activities of the court, Justice Abode Theophilus said small claims court is a place where business people can go and settle their differences in cases involving liquidated money claims not exceeding five million naira with less formal and complicated rules and procedures than other courts stating that the small claims court is mainly for business owners irrespective of the nature of business.
She pointed out that not all disputes such as divorce and probate cases can be heard in the small claims court but however pointed out that claims of arrears of rent can be handled saying litigants are business owners who are residents in the state. She said litigants should always go there with receipts as evidence of transaction adding that, unlike normal courts, litigants can approach the small claims court without lawyers.
Goodwill messages were delivered by the Chief Registrar of the Rivers State High Court, the Bayelsa State Commissioner of Police who was represented by ACP Daniel Oyeama, the Bayelsa State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice who was represented by Alaowei Opokuma, the Bayelsa State Chairman of the traditional ruler’s council HRM, King Bubaraye Dakoru, Chairmen of the Yenagoa and Sagbama branches of the Nigerian Bar Association, amongst other dignitaries.
Members of the committee include; Hon. Justice Timipre Songi(Chairman), Ebiere Tara Empere, Esq. (Secretary), and Florizel B. Obiri Esq. Others are Mrs. Justina Daniel, Esq, and Kelvin Amanawa, Esq.