•Residents praise Gov Obiano for inaugurating project, want facility
put to use immediately
By Rebecca Opaluwa
An abandoned high court complex at Umuchukwu in Orumba South Local Government Area of Anambra State, built and donated to the state by an indigene, a medical practitioner based in the United States, is causing some anxiety in the area.
Indigenes of the area have expressed gratitude to the state governor, Chief Willie Obiano, for inaugurating the project, alongside some others, in December last year. They are, however, not happy with top officials of the state judiciary for abandoning the complex after its opening.
While inaugurating a Chief Magistrate’s Court in Achalla, Awka North Local Government Area, in 2013, Justice Umeadi, had pleaded with communities in the state to help establish more courts to guarantee easy dispensation of justice at the grassroots.
Shortly after, Dr. Godwin Maduka, a professor of anaesthesiology and medical director of the Las Vegas Pain Institute and Medical Centre, heeded the call and returned home. He built a number of facilities in the community, including a medical research centre, a high court complex, judges’ quarters, Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) office, a magistrate’s court, classroom blocks, and a civic centre, among others,
At the inauguration of the projects last December, Obiano restated his administration’s resolve to continue to encourage wealthy Anambra indigenes from across the world to invest more in their homeland. He pledged to ensure the provision of an enabling environment for the success of such investments for the continued prosperity of the state.
However, right now, eight months after its inauguration, the edifice has not started serving the purpose for which it was built. Many indigenes and residents of the area are unhappy that the complex is not being put to use.
A concerned indigene who chose not to be named said: “We find it strange that this world-class high court complex, built and handed over to the state judiciary more than eight months ago, is yet to be put to use. This is another attempt to deprive people in this part of Anambra the opportunity to have easy access to justice. We have to travel far to the high court in Awka for cases that could easily have been handled here if the court were not abandoned.”
A source within the state judiciary told the reporter, however, that the complex had not been abandoned. He explained that the delay in putting the facility to use was informed by a petition sent to the Chief Judge by some indigenes of the state, alleging that there was a controversy over the name of the host town. He stated that the complex would be utilised as soon as the controversy was resolved.
But some residents claimed that the said controversy had been laid to rest about nine years ago during the administration of Mr. Peter Obi, with the approval of “Umuchukwu” through a referendum.
Besides the petition, some residents of Orumba South Local Government area said there might be a frosty relationship between the executive and the judiciary in the state, which might be one of the reasons for the abandonment of the facility.
“The construction of the high court complex is, no doubt, a major legacy that was achieved during the administration of Chief Willie Obiano. Although it was facilitated by the community’s eminent son, a medical doctor, academic and philanthropist based in the United States, the project was commissioned by the governor. Could it be that some people do not want the people to see this as an achievement of Obiano?
“Also, at the Pontification Mass to mark the commencement of the 2016/2017 Legal Year, the Chief Judge had lamented the deplorable state of the courts in the state as well as the condition of the judicial workers. Now that an ultra-modern complex has been built for the judiciary, why is the state-of-the-art facility not in use?” an indigene, who gave his name as Chika, asked.
Maduka, who donated the complex, said it was disheartening that the magnificent, multi-million dollar facility was being allowed to waste away. He dismissed suggestions that the commencement of sittings of the court were being delayed as a result of some petition over the name of the town.
Maduka said, “The high court is for the Judicial District, not for Umuchukwu, even if it is erected there. The court is for Orumba South Local Government Area as a whole.
“And since the purported petition was written while the judicial complex was still under construction, why didn’t they stop the construction after receiving the petition? Why wait till millions of dollars had been spent and the project commissioned by the state governor?”
It was gathered that, before the commencement of the project, the relevant authorities conducted inspections on the facility while all the necessary approvals were obtained from the state government and the Judicial Service Commission.
It was also gathered that efforts by the governor to ensure that the complex was put to use have not been successful. Findings showed that two letters written to the Chief Judge to allow judicial proceedings to commence at the court but didn’t achieve the desired results.
Maduka asserted that the current fate of the complex would not deter him from giving his support to both the federal and Anambra State governments in the area of community development. He admitted, however, that such attitudes could be demoralising.
The philanthropist, who owns the largest and most efficient chain of medical facilities in Nevada State, United States, observed that: “Situations like these make you feel that your efforts to make life better for your people are not appreciated. The fact that this state high court has not been put to use after so many months does not make me happy at all. I had plans to bring a number of my friends and investors to see some of these projects in operation, including the high court. This will encourage them to invest in Nigeria. A state-of-the-art court like that will impress foreign investors and make them know that justice can be done if anything negative happens to their investments. This is one of the reasons a lot of people in the Diaspora are discouraged from investing back home.”
He also spoke of his plans to build the largest hospital complex in Africa, preferably in Anambra State. But he said plans for the construction of the medical facility, which would be powered by solar energy, were being hampered by the situation with the judiciary complex.
Concerned residents of Orumba South Local Government Area as well as others in the state are appealing to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, Governor Obiano and the National Judicial Commission to broker a deal that would enable judicial procedures start at the facility.
“Many others would have sited this project and others outside the country. The patriotism of such a philanthropist should not be rewarded with abandonment as a result of unnecessary political bickering. The federal government, state government and the National Judicial Commission should please find out what the problems might be and resolve them once and for all, so that the ultra-modern high court complex can be put to use,” Nnamdi Obi, another resident, said.