THE Chief Judge of Enugu State, Honourable Justice Ngozi Priscilla Emehelu has disclosed that the recently approved 14 new court buildings and open registries for construction in the judicial divisions and magisterial districts across the state by Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s administration is “the largest single intervention in infrastructural development in the judiciary of Enugu State for over 20 years”.
Justice Emehelu added that “this unprecedented infrastructural development has not been witnessed in the entire South East of our country Nigeria.”
The state’s Chief Judge made the assertion during the ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of two new court buildings of eight court rooms each and an open registry for magisterial districts in the Enugu North, Enugu South and Enugu East local government areas, held at the magistrate court premises, Enugu.
She expressed gratitude to God and Gov. Ugwuanyi that the state judiciary’s dreams of having a functional and befitting court complex for magistrates have come to fruition, stressing that the construction of the projects “marks the beginning of such event as many more courts (High Courts and Magistrate Courts) have been billed to be erected across the state by His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Enugu State”.
Justice Emehelu regretted that the judiciary had been confronted with the challenge of inadequate infrastructure for the courts, particularly, the magistrates’ courts, expressing delight that “with these splendid structures, the challenge will reduce appreciably”.
She stated that the design of the facilities and quality of the new court buildings will complement the other innovations going on in the justice sector to ensure that quality justice was delivered to the people. She maintained that when completed the structures “will no doubt reflect the values of integrity, excellence, efficiency and transparency which are essential to achieving a viral and flourishing Judiciary in the state”.
Recalling that Gov. Ugwuanyi had recently performed the foundation laying ceremony of the Customary Court of Appeal headquarters at Independence Layout, Enugu for effective and efficient service delivery, the Chief Judge added that the newly constructed High Court at Awhum, Udi L.G.A will be inaugurated soon to bring access to justice closer to the people of the area.
She therefore, urged the council chairmen to support the governor’s sound vision for the judiciary saying: “May I use this opportunity to call on the chairmen of the various local government councils in the state to assist in the renovation of the existing court buildings in their areas which are dilapidated and even erect new ones in order to complement the efforts of His Excellency in bringing development and justice close to the door steps of the people”.
In his response, Gov. Ugwuanyi, who said that it was the first time in over a decade that the state government would make an intervention of such magnitude in the state judiciary, disclosed that “these new facilities are to be sited in Enugu North, Enugu South, Enugu East, Nsukka, Nkanu East, Nkanu West, Awgu, Oji River, Igboeze North, Igboeze South, Uzo-Uwani and Isi-Uzo Local Government Areas.
The governor stated that the projects further underscore the desire and resolve of his administration to create a more conducive environment for the effective administration and dispensation of justice in the state “particularly, through the provision of suitable infrastructure and essential tools and equipment for the state judiciary”.
He further stated that his administration in collaboration with its development partners had previously carried out construction and rehabilitation of court buildings and the provision of essential equipment to some units of the courts across the state, stressing that “these measures would help to enhance the dignity of the state judiciary and promote efficiency, productivity and safety of our courts while also increasing the confidence and convenience of all court users”.
According to him, “I want to use this opportunity to reiterate our resolve to do all that is necessary to ensure that the judiciary in Enugu State, is not only suitably empowered to deliver its mandate as an independent arm of government but also ranks among the very best in the country”.