The President of the Appeal Court, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, on Monday, inaugurated the 17th Division of the Court in Asaba.
Bukalchuwa, at the ceremony, said the branch would help address the existing ”traffic and congestion” in the court as well as reduce the attending costs of accessing justice by litigants across the country.
She said the court, located on Mariam Babangida Way, in the Delta capital, met international standards.
She said the appellate court at inception in 1976, had only three judicial division: Lagos, Kaduna and Enugu .
She said: “In 1977, the number was increased to five with the establishment of Benin and Ibadan divisions; subsequently other divisions were added and the court had 16th division as at yesterday.
“Today, we are here to commission the 17th Division if the Court of Appeal in Asaba, Delta.
“The establishment of the new division is an aspect of the judicial reform agenda to enhance access to justice and speedy disposal of cases as well as efficient administration of justice.
“It is for this reason that the court of appeal is seeking to increase the number of its divisions to reduce difficulty associated with many distance travels, cost of transportation and delay due to congestions.”
She lauded the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa and all who made it possible for the court to be established, and prayed that it would serve the citizens in fairness and equity.
On his part, Okowa said that the inauguration of the court complex remained a thing of great joy, satisfaction, hope and fulfillment to the legal profession and the people of the state.
“The opening of this court today demonstrates our commitment to the rule of law and social justice.
“Before now, Delta was served by the Court of Appeal, Benin Division; with growing economic, political and social activities, the judges were overburdened.
“It might interest us to know that between 50 and 60 per cent of the recent election petitions that went up to the court of appeal in Benin were from Delta state alone.
“The creation of the Court of Appeal, Asaba Division, is therefore a welcome relief.
“It will decongest the court’s cause list and eliminate the attendant risks and costs associates with frequent trips to Benin and back to Delta,” he said.
He expressed hope that the court would ensure speedy access to justice in a cost-effective manner and its presence as a federal institution would enhance the profile of the state, create job and impact positively of the retail economy.
While appreciating the federal government, the CJN and the judiciary, Okowa prayed that the temple of justice would stand as a beacon of hope for all, including the rich and poor who would seek refuge and protection under the rule of law.
Earlier in an address, Mr Chiedu Ebie, Secretary to the State Government (SSG), commended the judiciary, and added that the process that culminated in day’s event commenced on Sept. 23, 2019.
Ebie said that the complex has modern facilities comparable to any other in the country.
“It has a sizable reception room, two court halls, six chambers for the presiding judge and five other justices, office spaces for the registrars, rooms for lawyers and conveniences.
“It also has a restaurants and e-library named after the President of the Court of Appeal,” the SSG said.
He also said that the Asaba Airport had been repositioned to meet the need of the people with its facilities upgraded and standardised.
The occasion was witnessed by serving and retied judges, traditional rulers and politicians, among others.