Abia unveils court rules, holds valedictory session for judges
Abia State judiciary, yesterday, formally commenced the 2021-2022 legal year with the unveiling of the High Court Civil Procedure Rules 2021 and a court valedictory session in honour of three retired judges.
The three were the 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’, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, represented by Secretary to the State Government Chris Ezem, commended the judiciary for the introduction of the new rules. He said they would not only facilitate justice dispensation but also strengthen the cause of the judiciary.
Chief Judge (CJ), Justice Onuoha Ogwe said the overriding consideration in amending the former rules was eliminating causes of delay in the trial of cases and promoting quick and just determination of civil proceedings.
He said areas amended in the new rules include the timeline for performing certain actions such as filing processes, pre-trial conference procedure, interpleader proceedings, reduction of the amount required to commence actions under first track proceedings, penalties payable for non-compliance to the rules and arrangement of the rules for easy reading and uniformity.
He disclosed 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 Ikpeazu to the judiciary and the cooperation of House of Assembly Speaker Chinedum Orji, among others.
In his address, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Uche Ihediwa, represented by the Solicitor General Mrs. Uzoamaka Uche Ikonne, said the ceremony was being observed at a time when national discourse is dominated by divergent views on topical issues such as restructuring, insecurity, judicial autonomy and political uncertainty within a post-recession economy.
“These austere times evidently call for legal practitioners to rise hand in glove with our judiciary to uphold the age-long principles of the rule of law, the supremacy of the constitution, independence of the judiciary, equity, fairness and justice,” he said.
Commenting on the new rules, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Okey Amechi, said: “It is my view that much as we cannot say that we have achieved a perfect set of rules yet. This 2021 High Court Rules under review have considerably put us on the path to that destination.”