It has been a good and busy week for the Court of Appeal and some sections of the legal community in Nigeria. On 3 February 2020, Delta State was agog, as members of the legal community converged in Asaba, the state capital, to witness the opening of the 17th Division of the Court of Appeal by the President of the Court of Appeal, Honourable Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa and His Excellency, Ifeanyi Okowa, the Executive Governor of Delta State.
Not ending there, Honourable Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa (who is scheduled to retire on March 6, 2020) again led her team of learned Justices and other dignitaries to Awka, Anambra State to commission the 18th Division of the Court of Appeal, in the company of His Excellency, Willie Obiano, the Executive Governor of Anambra State.
Our correspondent interacted with several of the attendees at the commissioning ceremonies to get their views on the expected impact of the new divisions of the Court of Appeal. In his response, Mr. Olumide Akpata, Senior Partner at Templars, and former Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association Section on Business Law, who was conspicuously present at both events, expressed excitement at what he described as great milestones in the quest for achieving a speedy and efficient justice administration system in Nigeria. According to Mr. Akpata:
“I wish to heartily congratulate members of the bench and the bar on the epic milestones that have been achieved this week in our justice delivery system. My sincere thanks also go to the amiable Governors of Delta State and Anambra State, for the very key roles that they played in ensuring the actualization of Asaba and Awka Divisions of the Court of Appeal. This is good news because it instills confidence and hope that disputes will be resolved more speedily than in the past”.
Before now, Delta State was under the coverage of the Benin Division of the Court of Appeal while Awka was under the coverage of the Enugu Dvision. Mr. Akpata remarked that this arrangement not only translated to a lot of work for Their Lordships in the Benin and Enugu Divisions of the Court, but also entailed huge expenses for legal practitioners as well as litigants outside Edo and Enugu States who had to embark on long and tortuous journeys in order to attend court. So “these new divisions of the Court of Appeal is a very welcome development, and I am certain that they will go a long way in decongesting the dockets of the Benin and Enugu Divisions of the appellate court and enhancing a speedy dispensation of justice”, Akpata said.
Continuing, Olumide Akpata said that “while we are celebrating these achievements, it should not be lost on us that there is still more to be done in our judicial system in order to get us to the preferred destination. For instance, it is important to emphasize that we live in a digital age where information and communication technology is being deployed around the world as a tool to achieving efficiency in the delivery of justice. Therefore, the bench, the bar and all other stakeholders must embrace modern technology by ensuring that our courts are equipped with the full complement of ICT facilities, and our judges continuously trained on how to use these resources”.“We have not yet attained our quest for a society where justice is dispensed efficiently, but we are certainly on track to that destination and I hope that, together as stakeholders in this system,we can put in the right efforts and policies to consolidate the achievements that we have seen this week in Asaba and Awka” Mr. Akpata concluded.
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