February 9, 2020

Okowa and legacy of Appeal Court Asaba

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Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State.

Governor Ifeanyi Okowa

By Norbert Chiazor

I was filling car at Asaba newest station when a fleet of gleaming Jeeps and mini luxury buses attacked my attention. Seconds later, the convoy meandered into an expansive building by Maryam Babangida Way.

I thought Governor Okowa was on the move. Oh no! I was casual – blue jeans on a T-shirt. Dressed for Sunday afternoon travel. But then my spirit waxed as I looked at my torso. The T-shirt, a gift came two weeks ago from Dubai, made in America! Beaming with smiles, I parked at the right edge of the fuel facility and sauntered towards the subject of my curiosity.

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It was not Okowa. The President, Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa had just arrived to see the new court of Appeal scheduled for inauguration on Monday 3rd February 2020 at Asaba.

I breezed into the building dotted by a battalion of security. I was not scared. The natty policemen on guard wore relaxed mellow looks that toned down their ugly riffles.

Inside the complex, I ran into youthful Delta SSG, Chiedu Ebie, busy in motion. Then I strolled and took pictures. The court Chamber is wondrous to the human eye. Elevated and furnished to superlative elegance. Most Nigerian courts are as hot as hell. Ruling in Asaba Court of Appeal would be like a judgement in heaven. Fair and fine. We hope fervently.

On Inauguration Day, President, Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, said it was the 17th Court of Appeal division in Nigeria.

The jurist said it followed a deluge of requests from the Nigeria Bar Association and the Delta State Government for the Asaba Division of the Court of Appeal to be established. Then the Chief Judge of Nigeria approved.

Bulkachuwa explained at the ceremony, witnessed by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa that “ at inception in 1976, the Court of Appeal had three divisions namely, Kaduna, Lagos and Enugu and in 1976, the number was increased to five, with the establishment of Benin and Ibadan divisions, and subsequently other divisions were added.”

She said the Court increased the number of its divisions to reduce difficulties of long-distance travels to courts, cost of transportation and delays in justice delivery.

She acknowledged Okowa for” prompt and result-oriented response which saw to the establishment of the Court of Appeal in Asaba.”

She also thanked the people of Delta for creating the enabling environment for the establishment of the Court.

Bulkachuwa gave the assurance that the court” will maintain an effective presence in Asaba and said her prayer is “that those who come to seek justice will always leave this temple of justice fully satisfied “. When Governor Okowa spoke he was upbeat – “The opening of this court further demonstrates our commitment to the rule of law and social justice. I wish to state that this administration is delighted to have this additional federal presence in our state. “Aside from the Court of Appeal providing speedy access to justice in a cost-effective manner, the presence of such a federal institution enhances the profile of the state, creates jobs and impacts positively on the retail economy.

“It is my expectation that this temple of justice will stand as a beacon of hope for all – the rich and poor, the mighty and the lowly, the powerful and the weak – who seek refuge and protection under the rule of law,” the governor said.

The infrastructure may well be one of the finest court buildings in Nigeria. Though the government of Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan started the building as Maryam Babangida centre, Okowa regime remodelled to top-notch edifice matchless in architectural grandeur.

A world-class court. Okowa is walking tall in Asaba. I am not a media aide! I am a witness to history…..

*Chiazor is Special Assistant to Governor Okowa on Media.