The President, Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, has inaugurated the 17th Court of Appeal division in Asaba, the Delta State capital.
At the ceremony witnessed by Delta Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, Bulkachuwa said establishing the court in Asaba was in line with efforts of the Judiciary in ensuring access and quick dispensation of cases as well as efficient administration of justice.
She noted that the Court increased the number of its divisions in order to reduce difficulties associated with long distance travels, cost of transportation and delays.
She explained that Benin division of the court was one of the divisions that covered Delta but was always busy, hence the need for another.
According to Bulkachuwa, there were numerous requests from the Nigeria Bar Association and the Delta State Government for the Asaba division of the Court of Appeal to be established which the Chief Judge of Nigeria graciously granted.
She stated that the Court of Appeal is primarily an appellate court.
"It hears appeal from the Federal High Court, High Court of Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Sharia Court of Appeal of a state and FCT, competent tribunals that might be established by Act of the National Assembly like Code of Conduct Tribunal and Elections Petition Tribunals.
"At inception in 1976, the Court of Appeal had three divisions namely, Kaduna, Lagos and Enugu and in 1976, the number was increased to five, with the establishment of Benin and Ibadan divisions, and subsequently other divisions were added.’’
The court president commended Okowa for the prompt and result-oriented response which saw to the establishment of the Court of Appeal in Asaba.
She appreciated Delta State for creating the enabling environment for the Court to be established.
Bulkachuwa assured that the court will maintain effective presence in Asaba.
"It is our hope and prayers that this ceremony will provide peaceful and conducive atmosphere to do our duty to all and sundry without fear or favour, affection or ill-will and in accordance with our oath of office.
"It is also my prayer that those who come to us to seek justice will always leave this temple of justice fully satisfied that not only that justice was done but that it will manifestly be seen to have been done."
In an address, the governor described the inauguration of the Court complex as a thing of great joy, resounding hope and fulfillment for the legal profession.
He stated that it has been a priority of his administration to extend the frontiers of justice administration and bring it closer to the people for the purposes of fairness, equity and timely service delivery.
"The opening of this court today further demonstrates our commitment to the rule of law and social justice. I wish to state that this administration is delighted to have this additional federal presence in our state.
"Aside the Court of Appeal providing speedy access to justice in a cost-effective manner, the presence of such a federal institution enhances the profile of the state, creates jobs and impacts positively on the retail economy.
*It is my expectation that this temple of justice will stand as a beacon of hope for all - the rich and poor, the mighty and the lowly, the powerful and the weak - who seek refuge and protection under the rule of law," the governor said.
High points of the event were the unveiling of the Statute of Justice, inauguration of an e-Library for the Court and its inaugural sitting, presided over by Bulkachuwa.
Justices of the Appeal Court, other judges and top government functionaries including the Minority Leader, House of Representatives, Ndudi Elumelu, attended the event.