27 years after, Court of Appeal Abuja to get permanent structure

Twenty Seven years after its establishment, the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal would in the next 14 months move to its permanent site, following the groundbreaking and foundation laying of a five-storey structure on Wednesday by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola.

The Abuja Division currently shares a space at the Court of Appeal Headquarters within the Three Arms Zone in Abuja, but Federal Capital Territory FCT Minister, Ezenwo Nyesom Wike who is spearheading teh nrw project said he has the leave of President Bola Tinubu to attend to the needs of the Judiciary.

Speaking at the event, Wike President Tinubu did not delay in granting approval for the construction of the project.

He said; “We must thank Mr President, when the President of the Court of Appeal came last year during their legal year, you know sometimes when you make a request and you see a politician accepts, most of them don’t agree but knowing the president we have and his commitment I knew it would come to reality.

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“When he came back, I took this matter to Mr President and I told him that this was the request made by President of Court of Appeal and the CJN who was there emphasized on it, and I want to tell you wholeheartedly that Mr President said ‘why do you need to wait, after all it is the FCT that rehabilitated the National Assembly Phase 1, it is FCT that rehabilitated the National Assembly Phase 2, which is an arm of government, So why are you not going to do this for this part of government?

“I will not be part of any project of this nature that will take two years I will not be part of that. This is one project that I have seen that is well covered in the budget, this project will cost us N37 billion but in the budget Mr President has provided N30 billion. So, the contractor has nothing to worry about. So by September next year, you will use this edifice for your legal year

“Mr President is not doing this alone. He has also provided, when he heard where justices are living, people who are trying criminals and terrorists, he said we should have judiciary who have their own houses.

“What Mr President has done is that we should provide accomodations, 10 for the Court of Appeal, 10 for the Federal High Court and 20 for the FCT High Court.

“He has approved that the heads of courts must have their retirement homes and I want to assure you that by August, the foundation of these houses will be laid”, he added.

CJN Ariwoola on his part appreciated the minister for his love for the Judiciary, saying Nigerians are aware of what he did for the Federal Judiciary when he was Governor of Rivers state.

He said; “What we are having is a great thing. We have gotten the division of the Court in Abuja managing the small space they occupy. Now you have 10 Court rooms and offices in a five-storey building.

“On behalf of the Judiciary, the honourable minister of the FCT, we thank you very much, we appreciate you for what you are doing. You have just told the whole world, that not only the Court of Appeal will benefit from your legacy, but also the heads of various courts and the other courts.

“I understand you had mentioned it that not even apex court will be forgotten. My board of justices of the Supreme Court are not here, but they said I should pass it on to the honorable minister of the FCT, that we don’t have another place to go too other than the FCT. So we believe that your administration and the administration of your boss, the head of government, will not forget about the apex court in the legacy being given to the judiciary.

“All the judiciary needs, is to be left alone to function to perform its role unhindered, as much as possible, like the President of the Bar said, once you take care of the judiciary, you have taken care of justice. If you cry for peace anywhere in the world, without justice, there can be no peace”, he added.

Earlier, President, Court of Appeal, Justice Dongban Mensem recalled that the Abuja division of the court was established in 1997, but that it has grown large and now a victim of its own success.

She said it is always a logistic and security nightmare having the Abuja division within the premises of the Appeal Court Headquarters.

According to her, when high profile political and terror cases are being determined at the Appeal Court, the roads leading to the premises are often cordoned off which affects movement in and around the headquarters.

The project located in Dakibuyi District Sector Centre B, when completed, will have 10 court rooms as well as 10 suites for Justices, administrative offices for the Registrar and other support staff, ample file rooms for storage of court documents, conveniences and recess areas for Justices during break time.

On his part, President of the Nigerian Bar Association NBA, Yakubu Maikyau regretted that past FCT ministers did not pay adequate attention to teh Judiciary.

He said; “FCT was established in 1976 the same year that the Court of Appeal was established. FCT has had 16 ministers before Wike but it is only now that we are having a ceremony such as this”.



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