After over 10 years of waiting for a befitting building for the Court of Appeal, Calabar Division, a new complex has finally been completed and commissioned. At the commissioning which attracted the state Chief Judge, Justice
Michael Edem, his counterpart from Akwa Ibom, former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Chief Kanu Agabi, justices of the Court of Appeal, Senior Advocates of Nigeria as well as eminent lawyers, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen harped on the need for the enforcement of the rule of law, because without it every society is doomed.
Onnoghen said judiciary officers must remain steadfast to their oath of office, adding that they should temper justice with mercy where the law allows.
He said he was grateful to God for making the commissioning a reality, recalling that as a young lawyer in Calabar, they had to undertake tortuous and dangerous journeys from Calabar to Enugu Division of the Appeal Court over appeal cases and said he was grateful to God for making the commissioning a reality.
In his remarks the state governor, Prof Ben Ayade commended the CJN for building the complex he described as digital, adding that the internet connectivity at the complex will ease the job of lawyers.
Ayade said Onnoghen had made Cross River proud, and urged the judiciary officers to always allow their conscience guide the decisions they take.
According to him, “the only policeman who will not tell a lie is your conscience.”
In her welcome address, president of the court of appeal, Justice Zainab Adamu Bulkachuwa, recalled how the division had evolved over the years.
She said it was established in January 1999 because of huge cases in Port Harcourt and Enugu divisions and that Calabar was found to be suitable among the places suggested.
She said they were operating in an old house built in 1896 and from there they moved to squat in various offices from 2011 when fire engulfed their office and destroyed vital documents and at a point they moved into Industrial Court where they were to squat for six months but ended up spending three years.
Bulkachuwa said a former Cross River governor, Donald Duke donated the land on which the new complex was built and work commenced in 2007 and the project was to last 12 months but dragged on for ten years.
She said in spite of all the challenges, the complex was eventually completed and upgraded and thanked Justice Onnoghen and other justices for their support that facilitated the completion.
Former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Chief Kanu Agabi in his goodwill message, called for the setting up Appeal Court divisions in every state to minimize the burden on the Supreme Court.