Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi on Friday inaugurated the Chief Magistrate’s Court, Ozalla Magisterial District, in Nkanu West Local Government Area of the state, saying it was established to enhance access to justice in the state.
Governor Ugwuanyi, represented by the State Commissioner for Chieftaincy Matters, Chief Charles O.C. Egumgbe, expressed confidence that the court would enable the majority of citizens especially the poor to seek remedies against injustice, and protection of their fundamental human rights guaranteed under the Nigerian constitution.
The Governor noted that Magistrates’ Courts deal with over 70 percent of cases brought before the courts in the state, adding that his administration had since inception in 2015 prioritized the establishment of new judicial districts and the upgrade of existing ones for the efficient functioning of the courts and the speedy dispensation of justice.
Justifying the choice of the host community, the governor observed that “Ozalla and especially Ozalla junction is fast developing to a commercial city owing to its important road connectivity to other states of Nigeria, including the presence of some federal agencies”.
He described the establishment of the court as timely and commended the people of the community for making the event a success.
In her speech, the Chief Judge of Enugu State, Justice Priscila Emehelu said the new court was to ensure that the people in the area have easy access to justice, thereby easing the challenges of going to the nearest court at Agbani.
On the location of the court, the Chief Judge also observed that Ozalla is close to the Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT) and co-hosts the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Ituku-Ozalla.
“This naturally entails that there is a sizeable number of people living and travelling through Ozalla daily”, she said, adding that the ever busy Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway passing through the town adds to the human and vehicular traffic.
Justice Emehelu, represented by the President of the Enugu State Customary Court of Appeal, Justice E. N. Nnamani thanked Governor Ugwuanyi for giving approval for the establishment of the Chief Magistrates Court at Ozalla as well as five magisterial districts and two new judicial divisions at Amagunze and Udi, and an additional high court at Orba under Udenu Judicial Division.
Justice Emehelu paid tributes to the people of Ozalla, the political leadership, the President General of Ozalla Development Union (ODU), Chief Barr CNN Nwagbara, Ozalla Lawyers Forum, Nkanu Lawyers Forum, traditional rulers of the autonomous communities, and the Obeagwu Ozalla Town Union in particular for donating the structure which she pointed out will serve as the temporary building for the court pending the construction of a brand new one by the State government.
The Chief Judge noted with satisfaction that the community had already donated a large expanse of land for the construction of the new magistrate’s court just adjacent the temporary one, adding that “this has clearly shown the importance the community attaches to the judiciary and justice sector”.
Earlier in his welcome address and later, in his vote of thanks, the President General of ODU, Chief Barr. CNN Nwagbara expressed joy and fulfilment that Ozalla community was able to meet the requirements for the take-off of the court within a short period.
The President General of the apex union in the greater Ozalla, which comprises five autonomous communities, praised the people of Ozalla for their self-help spirit, stressing that in crucial moments when help appears to come from nowhere, they have always risen to the occasion in rallying to raise funds for projects that are vital to their wellbeing.
He appreciated the traditional rulers and President Generals of the autonomous communities for their solidarity and belief in the strength in unity, the Committee on Reconstruction, Furnishings and Inauguration headed by Barr Hawkins Chukwude, the Secretary of the Committee, Barr Emmanuel Nwafor and prominent sons and daughters of the community for their financial and other contributions towards the provision of facilities for the take-off of the court.
He thanked particularly Hon. Dr. Justice Cyprian Ajah, Magistrate Osondu Chukwuani and Magistrate Philip Nwankwo (rtd) for their roles.
He also thanked the Chairman of Nkanu West Local Government Area, Chief Nwabueze Nnamani for his interest and commitment to the establishment of court, and for his cash support. He appealed to the Chairman for more support to offset the debts accruing from the financial responsibility assigned to the local government by the Enugu State government which were undertaken by the people of Ozalla to ensure the success of the inauguration.
Chief Nwagbara thanked the people of Obeagwu-Ozalla led by the President General, Chief Oguejiofor Emmanuel for donating a building in their community civic centre at Onu Orie as the temporary site of the court.
The President General, who described the court as a parting gift to Ozalla from the retiring chief judge, assured that the community will support the court to function well.
Chief Nwagbara expressed immense appreciation to Governor Ugwuanyi for his approval of the establishment of the court in Ozalla, and for his kind and friendly disposition to the entire community.
Highpoint of the event was the inauguration and inspection of the court by the governor’s representative, accompanied by other judges in the Chief Judge’s entourage, the Chairman of Nkanu Local Government Area, Chief Nwabueze Nnamani, and the ODU President General.
Other dignitaries at the event were HRH Igwe Ochinanwata of Akegbe Ugwu, Secretary of the Nkanu West local Government Council, Hon. E.S.V Ozoede, the Divisional Police Officer of Ozalla Police Division, SP Henry Imo, magistrates and officials of the State Judiciary.
From the host Ozalla community were personalities led by the traditional ruler of Umuanee-Ozalla, HRH Igwe Crescent Okafor, Prof Augustine Nwagbara, the immediate past President General of ODU, Chief Raph Ugwu, President General of Umuanee-Ozalla, Ichie Ikem Okoye, his Okorouba-Ozalla counterpart, Dr. Chidozie Onovo, Chairman of Etiti-Ozalla Caretaker Committee, Chief Kenneth Okonkwo, Vice President General of Obeagwu-Ozalla, Chief Emeka Nwagbara, Chairman of the ODU UNTH Committee, Dr. Kingsley Okorie, members of the Ozalla Lawyers Forum and many others.
The magistrate and judicial staff officially posted to Ozalla Magisterial District conducted the first trial and adjourned the case to 3rd September, 2021.
Source: The Easterner