THE NEW ABIA STATE JUDICIARY: CHANGING THE NARRATIVE

The Judiciary is one, out of the three arms of government. It is seen as the third organ of government and has been vested with the responsibility of interpreting and applying the laws to all cases, as well as settling disputes in the court of law.It is a common and acceptable fact that the judiciary as the third arm of government is the last hope of the common man. Unfortunately but truthfully, a few months back, the Abia State Judiciary was mired in unnecessary and avoidable controversy and brigandage so much so that the expectations of its workers in the judiciary, principal officers of the Abia State Government and those who had invested their hope of getting justice from the judiciary were somewhat dashed. Added to these frustrating situations was the fact that facilities in that arm of government were allowed to deteriorate; thus it became a place where it is inconvenient to work in. Some high and magistrate court buildings were decrepit and lacking in facilities. Most judges and magistrates and their staff were working most times under difficult condition especially when it rained.

Although the poor condition of the Abia State Judiciary predated the present administration in the State on assumption of office in 2015, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu out of hunger to give vent to the independence of the judiciary initiated processes to deepen the reform engendered by his predecessor in office since there were still cases of infrastructural deficiencies, lack of good working conditions, court congestions, lack of authorized establishment, poor intergovernmental interactions between the judiciary and other arms of government in the Abia State Judiciary.

Funds were immediately deployed to that effect but the unnecessary controversy which characterized the judiciary made the effective implementation of the reform in the judiciary initiated by the Dr Okezie Ikpeazu almost impossible to accomplish.

Speaking to journalists in the State High Court’s Conference Room recently, the Chief Registrar, Chief Benson Anya said that the State Governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu “is hungry and still has the desire to advance Abia State judiciary to a new level and bring it out of darkness but the changes he was suggesting were resisted”.

The situation has however changed with the appointment of Justice Onuoha Ogwe as the State Chief Judge and Chief Benson Anya as the Chief Registrar. The duo have began to implement the State Governor’s reform agenda starting with infrastructural development. The Abia State High Court complex in Umuahia now wears a refreshingly new look. Court buildings are currently being rehabilitated, brand new office furniture were supplied and the old, rickety and dilapidated office furniture replaced. There is now a new smile on the faces of the judiciary workers with most of them walking with jaunty steps that were initially missing. Speaking further, the Chief Registrar has this to say, “we have started changing things, restructuring and other positive measures to reposition the judiciary have commenced. There were too many staff without regard to the actual needs of the judiciary or authorized establishment. We are happy to inform you that the reform has commenced and encouraged by Dr Okezie Ikpeazu. Promotion of stagnated staff has commenced. Promotions are now based on merit and rules of the service. The Chief Judge has inaugurated a committee on prison decongestion.