Law News
Fear of violence forces lawyers to shun court

Judges, magistrates and court workers at the Lagos State High Court in Ikeja deserted the premises around 2pm on Monday.

It was learnt that the judges, magistrates, court workers and other visitors to the court left due to the fear that post-election violence may break out in the city after the announcement of the presidential poll results.

Though the official closing time is 4pm, the entrance and exit gates to the Ikeja High Court premises were however closed as early as 2pm.

The court gates were manned by the security officers, who queried people what their businesses were before allowing or denying them entrance into the court premises.

“We have closed, we have closed, go back,” our correspondent heard one of the court security officers telling a visitor to the court.

When asked by one of our correspondents what informed the action, one of the security men said they had an instruction to do so.

“Everybody was asked to leave because of the election results. We are not sure what would happen and we have instruction from Alausa to shut the gate,” the security officer, who preferred anonymity, said.

A senior security man was also seen by one of our correspondents instructing his subordinates not to allow free entrance into the premises.

It was learnt that the situation was similar at the state government secretariat at Alausa, where workers were also asked to close before 4pm official closing time.

One of the workers, speaking on phone as she hurried out of the Ikeja High Court premises, said, “We have been asked to go home; they asked everybody to leave and go home.”

A source close to the state Chief Judge, Justice Olufunmilayo Atilade, who spoke to one of our correspondents on the condition of anonymity, said it was not clear whether the instruction to close the court was given by the Chief Judge.

The source said, “The CJ sat this morning, I cannot tell whether it was the CJ’s instruction, but I think people are just entertaining unnecessary fear.”

Also, many banks and some commercial organisations on Monday shut their offices as the results of the March 28 presidential election were being announced.

Some of the banks closed as early as 2pm.

Some of the bank workers, who spoke with one of our correspondents, stated that the reason for the shutting down of business for the day was due to the fear of possible break down of law and order after the announcement of the presidential election result.

Apart from banks, workers in other sectors of the economy including hospitals had to close early.

As of the time of filing this report, there were rumours that fracas had already broken out in some parts of Lagos.

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