A federal judge in Lagos on Wednesday apologised profusely to a disabled lawyer, Daniel Onwe, over the absence of vehicle parking space for people living with disabilities in and around the high court.
Ibrahim Buba, a judge at the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court, who was initially angry at the sight of a car parked at the judges’ gate directed the court’s security guards to henceforth allow Mr. Onwe to drive into the court’s premises.
Mr. Onwe, a human rights lawyer and President of Association of Lawyers with Disabilities in Nigeria, arrived the court on Wednesday morning for a human rights matter before Muslim Hassan but could not find a space to park his car.
After searching in vain for space inside the court’s parking lot where there is no reservation for people with disabilities, Mr. Onwe drove around the court’s surroundings, where most people who have business in the court usually park their vehicles, but still could not find anywhere within walking distance to the court.
At the court’s back gate, through which some judges use to gain entrance into the premises, there were parking spaces which had been taken over by men who collect money for parking.
At past 9 a.m., and facing the risk of being absent in court when his case is called, a frustrated Mr. Onwe parked his car at the judges’ gate, ignored protests by the security guards, and hurried towards Mr. Hassan’s courtroom.
After his court session, the lawyer was informed that Mr. Buba had left a stern warning that whoever parked at the gate should see him immediately.
The court’s guards accompanied Mr. Onwe to the judge’s court where they were shocked to see Mr. Buba’s initial anger dissolve into an apology.
At the sight of Mr. Onwe, the judge, whose court was still in session, asked him to step forward towards his desk and ordered that he be always allowed to drive into the premises.
The judge further directed that the order be communicated to the Deputy Chief Registrar of the court and the security for immediate compliance.
When Mr. Onwe returned to his car, he discovered that all the tyres had been deflated by the security men who claimed to have acted on the order of the judge. Again, the lawyer went back to the court and was granted another audience by the judge.
Thanking the judge for the benevolent order he made earlier, Mr. Onwe informed him that the four tyres of his car had been deflated.
He added that he was informed that said act was carried out on the Court’s order and that he had come to report to the Court so as not to be in contempt of an order of Court.
The judge made a second order, this time that Mr. Onwe’s tyres be inflated immediately at the court’s expense.
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