Anambra state Assembly Advocates for appointment of High Court Judges 

By Chinwe Onuigbo, Awka

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Anambra State House of Assembly has called on the Governor, Professor Chukwuma Charles Soludo, to quickly provide all necessary requirements needed for the appointment of ten high court judges approved for Anambra state by the National Judicial Council (NJC), for improved and speedy justice delivery.

The house resolution followed the motion by Honourable Ejike Okechukwu, member representing Anaocha two constituency, which stated that the National Judicial Council during its meeting in February 2023, approved ten slots for Anambra State Judicial Service Commission, to shortlist for recommendation of the National Judicial Council for appointment as judges of Anambra State High Court.

“At present, the number of judges in Anambra State (31) is insufficient to hear all the cases of all awaiting trial inmates, bearing in mind that most of these judges will be retiring soon.

“The salary of all Judges of Court of Record comes from Federal Consolidated Revenue account, thus leaving no pressure on the lean resources of the State.

“Section 13 (8) of the Correctional Service Act 2019 empowers the Controller of Correctional Centers to reject inmates from court when they exceed their capacity.

“All the four Correctional Centers in Anambra State have long exceeded their capacities.

“If the State Government provides Judges Quarters, official vehicles, and recommend through the Anambra State Judiciary Service Commission as required by the National Judicial Council, more Judges will be appointed for Anambra State High Court and in turn, ensure speedy hearing of cases and delivery of justice.

“If we do not appoint more judges, we are losing. Anambra State has only 31 judges and most of them are approaching retirement age. They cannot exhibit what they use to do in their youthful age.

“The major reason why there are many awaiting trial cases is because we do not have enough judges which led to most of them being taken to magistrate court.

“When more judges are appointed, more cases will be treated. Justice delayed is justice denied”, Okechukwu submitted.

Speaking in favour of the motion, member representing Onitsha South 1 constituency, Mr. Fredrick Ezenwa said that there are large population of people who are languishing in the correctional centres located at Onitsha, Awka and Ekwulobia of Anambra State.

“Taking Onitsha correctional centre as a case study, the facility built to accommodate 600 inmates was holding a total of 1,017 inmates as at 9th of July, 2023 with a total number of 909 inmates awaiting trial.

 “Those on awaiting trial list are presumed innocent until they are found guilty of the offenses they were charged with. It is disheartening to note that some of the inmates on awaiting trial have spent years in the facility without being heard.

 “The future of the inmates on awaiting trial list are being toyed with. Again, that the overcrowded nature of the facilities keeps the inmates vulnerable to contagious diseases.

 “If accelerated hearing is effectively organized for the inmates, the facilities will be grossly decongested, the innocent shall be set free while the guilty shall be convicted,” Ezenwa said.

Meanwhile, Honourable Ebuka Igwe, Hon. Obi Nweke, Hon. Jude Umennajiego, Hon. Anayo Okpalaeke, Hon. Augustine Ike and Hon. Fredrick Ezenwa, also spoke in support of the motion.

The speaker, Mr. Somotochukwu Udeze, later moved for the resolution of the House while the lawmakers unanimously adopted it through voice votes.

They called on Governor Soludo to direct Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General to salvage the situation.