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At last, Court of Appeal takes off in Awka

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After years of waiting, Awka in Anambra State has joined cities in the country that host an appellate court.

In a historic ceremony yesterday in Awka, Governor Willie Obiano played host to the President of the Court of Appeal (PCA), Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, who inaugurated the Court of Appeal, Awka Division.

Speaking at the event, Bulkachuwa, who signed the letter of approval last year, extolled the Anambra government for ensuring the completion of the project, while assuring that litigants would have no cause to worry, satisfied that justice had manifestly been seen to have been done.

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“The opening of this court is a milestone in this country for the Court of Appeal in particular and the judiciary in general. It is an epoch-making event, which should gladden the heart of everybody.

“The current trend in the justice management system is anchored on probity, accountability, ethics, the good dispensation of justice and bringing justice closer to the people; but bringing it close to the people has posed a great challenge to the entire judiciary.

“For instance, the court has been growing in number from three in 1976 to five in 1977, to 10 in 1999 and 16 divisions in 2011. But it might surprise you that while the number was increasing, the budget envelope is withering, static or decreasing.”

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According to the PCA, the inauguration was a demonstration of faith in that arm of the court and crucial in the development of the nation’s judicial system.

Lamenting paucity of amid an increasing number of divisions of the court over the years, she said the poor funding hampered its ability to dispense with cases as the court of appellate arbitration.

On his part, Obiano described the Court of Appeal in Anambra as a child of necessity and expressed happiness with the inauguration of the 18th division of the Court of Appeal inaugurated in Anambra during his tenure.

He said a large expanse of land had been earmarked for the construction of permanent projects of the court in the state, stressing that the take-off of the appellate court would end the tortuous trips of lawyers to Enugu for appellate determination of their matters.

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Earlier in his welcome address, the Acting Chief Judge of Anambra, Justice Onochie Anyachebelu, said the establishment of the court in the state was long overdue, adding that statistics showed that no less than 60 per cent of cases in Enugu division of the court emanated from Anambra.

While appreciating the empanelling of a team of three judges to kick-start the Awka division, he expressed hope that with the number of cases being churned out in Anambra, it was desirable to have two panels of five judges to treat them.

The first presiding judge of the new court, Justice Chioma Iheme-Nwosu, promised that the court would be above board and ensure that justice was done to all who came to it.

At present, five divisions of Court of Appeal exist namely Lagos, Kaduna, Enugu and Ibadan with Abuja as the headquarters.

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