President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachiwa, yesterday commissioned the 17th Court of Appeal division in Asaba, Delta State to reduce the drudgery of long distance travels, cost of transportation and delays due to congestion.
The commissioning of the complex was part of her valedictory visits to the various divisions of the court, as a prelude to her retirement on March 6, 2020.
Bulkachuwa, who is the first female President of the court, reaffirmed that the creation of the new division in Delta was to ensure that justice would always be done.
Speaking, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa noted that since 2015, it has been his government’s priority to extend the frontiers of justice administration by bringing it closer to the people for fairness, equity and timely service delivery. While expressing appreciation for the honour done her, Bulkachuwa said, “I am delighted and honoured with this distinguished gathering for the commissioning of a new Court of Appeal Division, Asaba, Delta State.
“The court is primarily an appellate court. It hears appeals from courts and and tribunals such as code of conduct tribunal and election tribunals.“At inception in 1976, the Court of Appeal had the Lagos, Kaduna and Enugu divisions. In 1977, the number was increased to five with the establishment of Benin and Ibadan divisions.
“Subsequently, other divisions were added. The court had 16 divisions as at Sunday, February 2, 2020 and today we are commissioning the 17th division of the court in Asaba.“The expansion is an aspect of judiciary reform agenda to enhance access to justice, speedy disposal of cases and efficient administration of justice.
“The principle is fundamental to the extent that in terms of severe austerity, when government and businesses are meant to close down, some of its liaison offices are reduced in staff strength, the judiciary will still be expanding even at such times.” She continued, “Each of the divisions is always busy, and Benin Division, which covers Delta and Ondo States is one of the busy divisions.
“The clamour and requests for a new division by Delta State government, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) that majority of court cases in Benin Division emanates from Delta State, necessitated the need to create a division of the Court of Appeal in Asaba.”
In his address, Okowa listed his administration’s support for judiciary reforms, since 2015, saying, “The opening and commissioning of the court complex is a thing of great joy and satisfaction, of resounding hope and fulfillment for the legal profession and for all Delta people.
“During the first term of this administration, we opened new judicial divisions in Umunede, Ika North East Council Area, Uvwie in Ekpan Council Area and Agbarho in Uhgheli North Council Area.
“This administration also domesticated the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), leading to the passage and signing into law of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law 2007, which has ended procedural bottlenecks that have caused delay in criminal justice system.”