Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State has ordered the increase of civil and criminal jurisdiction of magistrates in the state.
Head, Public Relations/Protocol Department, Delta High Court, Mr. Timothy Agbaragu, disclosed this in a statement made available to newsmen, on Thursday, in Asaba. The governor said the order took effect from August 20, 2018.
Okowa said the order was in exercise of the powers conferred on him by Section 24 (1) of the Magistrate Court Law, Cap M1, Vol. 3, Laws of Delta State, 2006.
The law empowers the governor to increase the jurisdiction of magistrates in civil and criminal matters.
By the order, the maximum monetary limits of Chief Magistrates (Special Grade), Chief Magistrate Grade 1 and Chief Magistrate Grade 2, has been increased to N10 million, N8 million and N5 million, respectively.
“Senior Magistrate Grade 1 and Senior Magistrate Grade 2 now have jurisdiction on matters within N3 million and N2 million.
“Magistrate Grade 1 and Grade 2 shall have jurisdiction on matters within in N1 million and N500, 000,” he stated.
The governor said that the order followed the recommendation of the state Chief Judge, Justice Marshal Umukoro.
The recommendation provides that in all actions relating to landlord and tenant, the claimant may in addition claim arrears of rent and the profits.
This is irrespective of the fact that the total claim exceeds the amount assigned to the cadre of magistrate concerned.
Okowa also increased the criminal jurisdiction of magistrate courts to Chief Magistrate Special Grade.
The governor said that Chief Magistrate Grade 1 and Grade 2 were now empowered by the order to impose sentences/fines of 14 years or fine not less than N250, 000.
He said they now had powers to impose sentences of 10 years or fines not less than N200, 000 and six years imprisonment or fine not less than N150, 000.
The governor said these were applicable where the law creating the offences did not make any specific provisions.
Similarly, Senior Magistrate Grade 1 and 2 can now sentence convicts to four years and three years, while their criminal jurisdiction has been expanded to sentence convicts to two years and one year.