From Geoffrey Anyanwu, Awka
History was made on Monday when the Court of Appeal, Enugu Division temporally moved to Awka, capital city of Anambra State, where it would sit for five days.
The court, which commenced what it called special sitting at the Anambra State Judiciary complex, Awka, like in Enugu, had two panels with the presiding Justice of the court, Justice Helen M. Ogunwumiju, heading Panel I.
Other members of Panel I are Justice T.S. Yakubu and Justice M.O. Bolaji Yusuf, while Panel II is headed by Justice M.A. Oredola, with Justice R.N. Pemu and Justice E.A. Agim as members.
The two panel members, who, before the sitting paid a courtesy visit to the Chief Judge of Anambra State, Hon. Justice Peter Umeadi, in his office, were expected to handle a total of 250 appeals between yesterday and Friday when they would round up the special sitting.
Speaking to Daily Sun on the essence of the special sitting, Deputy Chief Registrar, Court of Appeal, Enugu Division, Abubakar Maude, said it was to clear the backlog of appeals in the Division.
Reacting to the special sitting, one of the Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Anthony Chukwuemeka Anaenugwu (SAN) said: “It is good and we are very happy being here today, being the very first time ever in the history of the Court of Appeal that the Court of Appeal, Enugu Judicial Division, is sitting at Awka…”
You know we don’t have Court of Appeal Awka presently, our cases go to Court of Appeal Enugu; and for the first time, like I said before, the Court of Appeal is sitting at Awka.
He said: “After considering the number of cases we have in Enugu Division, the Presiding Justice, Hon. Justice H.M. Ogunwumiju, observed that large percentage of appeals pending in Enugu Division emanated from Anambra state. So the essence of this special sitting is to clear backlog of pending appeals in Enugu Division.
“In this exercise, the court will only take appeals from Anambra state, sitting in two Panels. The two Panels will sit from Monday to Friday, 18 to 22, April, 2016. The two Panels will be taking 25 cases each per day.”
Maude expressed gratitude to the Chief Judge of Anambra State, Justice Umeadi, the State Attorney General, Mr. Anali Chude and the Anambra State Council of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) for their support.
He said: “I will like to thank the Anambra State Judiciary, especially the Chief Judge and also the Attorney General of the state for providing all the necessary logistics for the take off and smooth conduct of the exercise. I also appreciate the support of the Anambra state NBA.”
“In those old days when we started practice, at least, I was privileged to know, on one occasion, that the Supreme Court sat at Enugu then, the Supreme Court moved from Lagos and sat at Enugu. I think it is in the same spirit that the Court of Appeal moved from Enugu to sit at Awka, thereby, bringing justice nearer home to the litigants. The litigants are now saved the cost and inconveniences of going to Enugu.
He praised the Presiding Justice, Ogunwumiju for the many innovations she had brought to the Division, saying she is in the same pace with Justice Amina, who has been elevated to the Supreme Court.
He said: “I must say that the credit goes to the Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, Hon. Justice Helen M. Ogunwumiju, for her foresight in making sure that the Court of Appeal sits today and throughout this week in Awka and I’m happy to be part of this historical occasion.
“Anambra state has always had more than 80 percent of the cases pending at the Court of Appeal Enugu. In other words, what I am saying is that 80 per cent of the cases in the Court of Appeal Enugu emanate from Anambra state.”