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Fire destroys over 200 case files in Kwara high Court

A fire incident at the Kwara State high court complex has destroyed no fewer than 200 case files and office equipment. The Kwara State Fire…

A fire incident at the Kwara State high court complex has destroyed no fewer than 200 case files and office equipment.

The Kwara State Fire Service attributed the cause of the fire, which occurred on Tuesday, to a power surge.

During an inspection of the facility, our correspondent noticed that the litigation office at the high court and other office equipment were completely destroyed by the inferno.

It was also learnt that several files of concluded and ongoing cases including those since the inception of the court were burnt in the process.

Speaking to our correspondent in her office, the Chief Registrar, Magistrate Ibironke Olawoyin, described the burnt section as the engine room of the high court.

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She said, “That section is the engine room of the high court. This is not about 100 or 200 cases. Our appeal cases, ongoing cases and processes that are being filed including some coming up this week. Not a single file was saved; everything was completely burnt.

“If not for the way the structure of the building was built and that most of the offices were departmentalised, it would have been more colossal”.

She said about three weeks ago, she mandated a software expert to begin the process of digitising the court files.

“I was supposed to receive the report from him and the cost before this incident. It’s unfortunate,” she added.

A top official in the Kwara State judiciary who preferred not to be named said, “For now, we need a checklist to determine the number of cases that are affected and the number of high or low profile ones among them.”

The chairman of NBA, Ilọrin, Kamaldeen Gambari, in a telephone chat on Tuesday, said serious steps should be taken to forestall a recurrence.

“The judiciary has not told us the files that were affected and how important they are. It is only when the burnt files are identified before we know the implications on the litigants,” he stated.

“Going forward, the judiciary is an arm of government and it will not be out of place if a segment of the fire service is located within the high court premises. Also, the idea of keeping files physically by the judiciary should not be continued.

“If those files burnt now are in soft copies, nothing would have been lost, we would have just retrieved them. But as it is now, we have lost those files,” he added.

A statement by the Head of Media and Publicity of the Kwara State Fire Service, Hassan Adekunle, said firemen were alerted to the inferno through a distress call which received a swift response.

“Responding swiftly, the fire crew rushed to the scene to find the imposing State High Court building ablaze. This building, housing 40 offices and three open courtrooms, was in peril, with the registry department and litigation office particularly affected by the inferno.

“Despite the daunting challenges they faced, the firefighters succeeded in saving the State High Court from complete devastation, preventing what could have been a catastrophic loss,” he added.

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