It is a fact that the Nigerian justice system is clogged and overburdened. Cases troop into the court docket at an alarming speed and sometimes court processes take decades and pass through several Judges without resolution. And these are important cases, important land matters, adjudication of wills and estates and others.
In all of this chaos, small every day disputes that also require their day in court may never get the opportunity. And so sometimes, people get away with injustice over what may be seemingly inconsequential matters, but the fact is injustice is injustice, no matter the scale.
Judging Matters, the new reality TV show on DStv comes in as a solution. The show features a no-nonsense retired Judge, Justice Olusola Williams, who presided over a number of high-profile cases while serving as a Judge and has a wealth of experience under her belt and TV host Ebuka Obi Uchendu.
Ebuka is not just a TV host, but also a lawyer, draws from both experiences, to act as a General Counsel on the show, diffusing the courtroom tension, with his charm as a TV host.
Judging matters features a small claims court that hears and settles domestic disputes. The issues are usually civil in nature and do not require police intervention at this stage. If these issues are heard in a timely manner, they are resolved before the matters devolve and get worse.
The show restores the hope that real people with their real problems, no matter how insignificant can receive a fair hearing.
There are two principles of fair hearing – one, hear the other party, and two, don’t be a judge in your own case.
At the end of the day, that’s all people want. To be heard, fairly, by someone who will take account of all the facts of their case, and who also has the power to impose judgement.
Without the element of legality, friends and family can help in settling these disputes, but on Judging Matters, retired Justice Olusola Williams as presiding judge of the court has the power to impose judgement on the cases before her.
Cases have ranged from refusal to refund money, to agents taking advantage of clients, to loss of friendship over hearsay.
The matters that are discussed on the show are issues that people deal with in their everyday lives.
Judging Matters shows the complexities of human relationships. In one of the cases, for instance, the claimant was requesting for her generator from the defendant who had seized it. The parties had been in a relationship, but according to the defendant, the claimant had hidden the fact that she had two children from a previous marriage.
In retaliation, the defendant had asked for the return of gifts (a phone, necklace, and wristwatch) he gave to the claimant and when she could not produce the gifts, he seized her generator.
Though the matter was dismissed, it shows how dynamic human relationships are, and often, a third party is required to see both parties’ perspectives.
The disputes are sometimes funny and quite often relatable. Ebuka Obi Uchendu acting as counsel tries to dissect the stories of both parties and get to the crux of the issues.
It’s good to see that an impact is being had on the lives of ordinary people with “ordinary problems”. Everyone deserves justice, no matter who they are.
Judging Matters airs on Africa Magic Showcase Channel 151 every Monday at 6:00 PM, with a repeat episode on Wednesdays by 10:00 PM on the same Channel.