From Noah Ebije, Kaduna
The Chief Judge of Benue State, Justice Aondover Kaka’an, has decried the dilapidated infrastructure of courtrooms, staff quarters, declaring that the development is hindering effective administration of justice in the state.
Aondover noted that many of the courtrooms had become uninhabitable with leaking roofs, broken windows and decayed furniture, while staff quarters have been taken over by rodents and reptiles.
This, he said, was as result of lack of funds to refurbish and employ staff to work and live therein.
A statement quoted Justice Kaka’an to have spoken at the commissioning of a newly built BAR Centre and a renovated High Court Complex, in Otukpo, Benue State, by ‘The Chief Godwin Obla Foundation’, penultimate Wednesday.
He, however, noted that he was not in anyway indicting successive administrations in the state as some of them “have made significant efforts in repositioning the judiciary.”
Specifically, the Chief Judge commended the Samuel Ortom’s administration for having done well for the judiciary in terms of physical projects and manpower development.
He also hailed the Godwin Obla Foundation’ while urging other spirited individuals to step forward and emulate the good guesture of Chief Godwin Obla, who’s a Senior Advocate of Nigerian and Chairman of the foundation as government alone cannot shoulder everything.
Justice Kaka’an also tasked the Benue state branch of the Nigerian Bar Association to take the challenge and expedite action on the ongoing construction of BAR Centre at the premises of the High Court Headquarters, Makurdi.
He said, “the selflessness exhibited by Chief Obla, SAN, is a scarce commodity in our country today, where people are more inclined to taking from the society than giving back.
“He definitely had numerous personal needs yearning to be met, but chose to apply his resources to this project for the good of the society. He deserves a thunderous applause and eternal appreciation from us.
“Chief Obla’s noble deed challenges the rest of us to give back to the society that has nourished us and from which we have taken so much.
“His action re-echoes the words of a former American President, John F. Kennedy, who famously told his country men to ask not what the country could do for them, but what they could do for the country.
“Our attitude of waiting for the government to do everything is inimical to progress, especially as the reality of dwindling public revenues stares us in the face.
“It is my hope that the NBA Makurdi Branch will take up this challenge and expedite action on the ongoing construction of a Bar Center at the premises of the High Court headquarters Makurdi.
“The Benue State Judiciary the heavy yoke of a dilapidated infrastructure that is hindering the effective administration of justice. Many of our courtrooms have become uninhabitable with leaking roofs, broken windows and decayed furniture, while our staff quarters have been taken over by rodents and reptiles due to lack of funds to refurbish them and employ staff to work and live therein.
“This is not in any way an indictment of successive administrations in the state, some of which have made significant efforts in repositioning the judiciary.” The statement said.
Earlier, the Chairman and Chief Executive of the Godwin Obla Foundation’, Chief Godwin Obla, who re-echoed the concern of the Chief Judge of the state, lamented how judicial officers worked under harsh environment across the state even as “our Judges are the most intellectualy
endowed and forthright Judges in the Country.”
He explained that the initial focus of the foundation was the construction of the BAR Centre, named after an illustrious son, Chief Morgan Ogbole, but added that the foundation thereafter found the need to rehabilitate the adjoining High Court that was in a sorry state.
Obla charged the staff of the Court to make judicious use of the renovated court, noting that”the Staff of the Court have a moral obligation andresponsibility to keep the Court in good and habitable condition expected of a Superior Court of record.”
He said, “before I go into the core of my address, permit me to pay tribute to the Chief Judge and his brother Justices of the High Court and Judicial Officers in both High and Lower Courts who work under the most challenging and deplorable judicial infrastructural state that one can ever imagine, in addition to being the most undervalued and under renumerated Judiciary in the entire country.
“I can say without fear or favor, having compared judgements emanating from the High Courts of justice of Benue State to ofher jurisdictions in the country, that our Judges are the most intellectualy
endowed and forthright Judges in the Country.
“I can also confirm, having regard to my practice for over threedecades, that they are the least renumerated Judges in the entire country, without the benefits of housing, monetary, and other
necessities they ought to enjoy.
“The initial focus of our foundation was the construction of the Bar Centre Otukpo in honor of the foremost legal practitioner in ldomaland, Chief Morgan Ogbole, a product of the Legendary Middle Temple Bar who was called to the Bar in 1960, making him the first Idoma man to be called to Bar, and who has thus far been consigned to our forgotten history and not given the place of Honour he really deserves.”
Obla continued, “the Godwin Obla Foundation will Staff and maintain the Bar Centre at the first instance for one year and workout a long-term arrangement with the Nigerian Bar Association Otukpo Branch who are the major beneficiaries of these projects to superintend and preside over it.
“If the government is not in the position
to build or renovate existing structures, it is not asking too much of it to provide basic imprest for the maintenance of these Projects and for the staff to also honestly apply the imprests for the purpose meant.
“Honestly, I will feel sad and let down if affer two years I come around and see any aspect of these projects in disrepair.”
The newly built BAR Centre, named after the Late Chief Morgan Ogbole, first lawyer in Idomaland, is equipped and made up of a hall for meetings, restrooms for the convenience of Lawyers, Judges/Magistrates, private meeting rooms, a kitchenette, an area designated for Library with workstations fully equipped with two(2) Desktop Computers with internet access and installed with a (Package)of Law Pavilion Electronic Law reports, a Printer, and Binding Machine and a photocopying machine to be supplied soon.
It also has Library with hardcopies of Supreme Court Law Reports, incuding all indexes from inception till date worth about 2.5 Million Naira and the foundation which according to the CEO, would be updating the Library from time to time.