From George Onyejiuwa, Owerri
Before now, the people of Umunwoha comprising Orogwe, Irete, Ohii, Ndegwu and Amakohia-Ubi in Owerri-West Local Government Area of Imo State, have been going to Ihiagwa Customary Court also in Owerri-West for their traditional and customary cases.
The people were doing so until Umunwoha produced four autonomous communities namely, Irete, Amakohia-Ubi, Ohii and Umunwoha now made up of only Orogwe and Ndegwu.
Not minding the splitting of the indigenous ancestral town into new autonomous communities, the people were determined to bring court closer to them to lessen the pains their people pass through by travelling long distances to obtain justice, particularly in local cases.
Just last week, their efforts paid off as a customary court sited in Orogwe, was commissioned. As the new customary court was commissioned, lawyers from Umunwoha and other people from the community thronged Ukwuezi in Orogwe where the court is situated to savour the new dawn and rejoice over a mission accomplished.
The Orogwe people desirous of ensuring speedy dispensation of cases, especially land disputes and other sundry matters had donated a building, which was formerly their post office to be used as the customary court. Thus the Customary Court, Orogwe, was officially commissioned by the President of the Imo State Customary Court of Appeal, P.I. Opara, last Thursday to the delight of the people.
Eze Emma Ejiogu, Ezeoha11, of Umunwoha Autonomous Community, said that the court was the answer to the consistent clamour for the establishment of another customary court in Owerri-West council, following the congestion of the only existing customary court in the area situated at Ihiagwa, leading led to delays in the dispensation of justice.
The traditional ruler pointed out that following several complaints by the natives of the Umunwoha bloc concerning delay in the disposal of court cases at Ihiagwa and the resultant congestion, the royal fathers in the Umunwoha bloc made an application to the President of the Imo State Customary Court of Appeal for the establishment of another customary court in Owerri-West council to cushion the hardship occasioned by the congestion of the Ihiagwa court:
“The legal practitioners of Umunwoha extraction led by Chief Bethel Nzimako gave impetus to the demand. I must say it is their effort that has made the commissioning of this customary court a reality. I salute you all, worthy sons of Umunwoha.”
The monarch also noted that with the commissioning of the customary court in Orogwe, litigants from Ohii, Orogwe,Ndegwu , Amakohia-Ubi and Irete communities would no longer have to travel all the way to Ihiagwa to get justice or suffer delayed justice as a result of congestion at the Ihiagwa Customary Court.
Chief Bethel Nziamko thanked the President of the Imo State Customary Court of Appeal for coming to commission the Orogwe Customary Court. He disclosed that it has been quite long the people of Umunwoha have been agitating for another customary court to be established in Owerri-West council area.:
“We did not want a customary court because we are trouble makers, but because we are people of justice who want justice. We started this agitation a long time ago because 95 per cent of the cases at Customary Court Ihiagwa is from this Umunwoha bloc and the people want speedy dispensation of judgement in their cases.”
He pointed out that the building which is now the customary court belongs to the Orogwe community having previously been used as the community’s post office and healthcare centre before its conversion to a court. He also disclosed that the renovation of the building was done solely through communal efforts:
“This building was renovated through communal efforts. The furniture and fans in the court room were donated by individual members of the community.” He singled out Sir Goddy Ahuakagha, who is leading a segment of the town union as the major benefactor that saw to the commissioning of the new court. He disclosed that Ahuakagha sank a borehole and built an overhead tank required for the court to take off.
He also thanked other sons of the community who contributed in one way or the other for the court to be approved and commissioned. Nzimako said it was as a result of the passion of the people for justice that made individuals to ensure that the customary court project became a reality.
Opara commended the community for donating a building and furnishing it for the establishment of the customary court:
“This is your court and I am happy today that the community provided a place for the establishment of the customary court. This court will help in the speedy dispensation of justice and the cases brought to this court will be handled with the fear of God.”
He advised the people not to take the laws into their hands even when judgements were not in their favour, saying that they have an option of appealing the judgement to a higher court.