Abia unveils new court rules, holds valedictory session in honour of retired judges
Abia State judiciary has formally commenced the 2021/2022 legal year, which featured unveiling of the State High Court Civil Procedure Rules 2021 and court valedictory session in honour of it’s three retired judges.
The three retired judges honoured were the immediate past president of the State Customary Court of Appeal, Justice Stella Maris Ururuka-Onyenso, her predecessor Justice Anyalewechi Onwuchekwa and Justice K. O. Wosu of the State High Court.
Speaking at the ceremony themed, “The Judiciary in the New Dawn”, the state governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, represented by the Secretary to the State government, Mr. Chris Ezem, commended the judiciary for the introduction of the new Rules, saying that it will not only facilitate justice dispensation, but also strengthen the course of the Judiciary.
The Chief Judge (CJ), Mr. Justice Onuoha Ogwe, said that the overriding consideration in amending the former Rules was to eliminate causes of delays in the trial of cases, and thereby, promote quick and just determination of civil proceedings in the court.
He said that the areas amended in the new Rules include, the timelines for performing certain actions such as the filling processes, pre-trial conference procedure, interpleader proceedings, the reduction of the amount required to commence actions under the fast track proceedings, penalties payable for non-compliance to the Rules and arrangement of the Rules for easy reading and uniformity, among other things.
According to the CJ, the main objective of the amendment is to simplify the Rules by removing cumbersome provisions and replacing them with provisions that are accessible, usable and easy to understand.
He said that within the last legal year, 24 new magistrates and 33 new chairmen of Customary Courts were appointed, including 87 new members of the same Customary Court, while 22 Customary Courts were inaugurated.
The CJ acknowledged the support of the state governor, Ikpeazu to the judiciary, the cooperation of the State House of Assembly Speaker, Chinedum Orji and the lawmakers as well as other departments of the government both at the state and federal levels.
He lamented that from August 2020 to 2021, seven judicial officers died, which comprised three Magistrates, one Registrar and three others.
In his address, the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Chief Uche Ihediwa, who was represented by the state Solicitor General, Mrs. Uzoamaka Uche Ikonne, noted that the ceremony was being observed at a time in the nation’s history where the national discourse is dominated by divergent views on restructuring, insecurity, judicial autonomy, political uncertainty within the post-recession economy.
“These austere times evidently call for legal practitioners to team up with the Judiciary to uphold the age long principles of rule of law, supremacy of the Constitution, independence of the judiciary, equity, fairness and Justice,” he said.
Commenting on the unveiled new Court Rules, the oldest Senior Advocate of Nigeria in attendance, Chief Okey Amechi, recommended the new Rules to all practising and non-practising lawyers, describing it as indispensable tool in aid of the professional practice.
His words: “It is my considered view that much as we cannot say that we have achieved a perfect set of Rules yet, this very 2021 High Court Rules under review has considerably put us on the path to that destination.
“Even though the Rules have not introduced what we can call radical changes, the amendments are in-depth and far reaching enough.”