By Chidi Nkwopara
OWERRI—The Imo State Chief Judge, Justice Paschal Nnadi, has cried out that “all the court halls scattered all over the state are in dire need of repairs, renovations and upgrading to avoid the impending total collapse of same due to non-availability of fund to address the problems.”
Nnadi raised the alarm in a 19-page address delivered, weekend, in Owerri, to flag off the 2017/2018 Legal Year and Assizes of Imo State Judiciary.
“The non-provision of funds for capital projects has made it impossible for the judiciary to carry out the construction of any capital project for the judiciary,” Justice Nnadi lamented.
After giving a graphic detail of other issues militating against the smooth administration of justice in the state, Justice Nnadi particularly mentioned that the staff strength of the Judiciary “has depleted very much due to retirement of staff, either on grounds of age or length of service,” stressing that death also took its toll on the staff strength of the courts.
“When the number of cases pending at the end of 2016/2017 Legal Year, 156,823, is divided by the 19 High Court judges, including the Chief Judge, the judge/case ratio will be approximately 8,253 cases per judge of the High Court,” Nnadi said.
In his address, Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Owerri Branch, Mr. Lawrence Nwakaeti, expressed regret over the palpable and brazen disregard to court judgments and rule of law in the state.
“It should be noted that despite the judgment obtained by the pensioners that their entitlements be paid fully, since July 5, 2017, the state government has refused to do so. Cheques issued to our senior citizens were dishonoured,” Nwakaeti said.
While wondering what happened to the two tranches of Paris debt refund of over N20 billion released to Imo State for payment of pension and other category of workers, Nwakaeti also opined that “this question must be answered now or sooner.”
He said: “The worst form of executive attack on the Judicial arm of government is the deliberate withholding of their allowances for over one year now. The aim is to carry out financial terrorism on our judges to cow and intimidate them. The Bar will resist this and shall continue to do so.”