Chiemeka ADINDU, Calabar
It is no more news that a magistrate court in Ogoja Local Government Area of Cross River state which was abandoned for so many years will soon wear a new look after spirited individuals have continued to donate towards this project.
TNN gathered that the magistrate court had been abandoned by the government for over 20 years which made it difficult for legal practitioners in the area have their sitting all these years and caused so much delay in the dispensation of justice.
Many have been denied justice as a result of the situation while the lawyers on their part have been moving from one place to the other in search for accommodation.
Recently, the faces of legal practitioners and the entire residents of Ogoja, which is a local government area in northern Cross River where the state governor comes from, beamed with smile. The jubilation comes after there are obvious signals that the court will soon return to its initial state where sittings will hold as it were 20 years ago.
TNN even gathered that millions of naira have been donated already as confirmed by those championing the renovation campaign- Agba Jalingo and Jonathan Ugbal. Among those who have made donations are federal and state lawmakers who are indigenes of Ogoja, Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe and Peter Odey who donated N1.5 million and N250, 000 respectively. Also in the list of donors is Mr. Arthur Javis who is the proprietor of the first private owned University, Arthur Javis University, who gave N300,000.
In a telephone conversation with TNN, Nigeria Bar Association, NBA Chairman, Ogoja branch, Adie S.E could not hide his joy for the development. He described it as a blessing in disguise as a result of the nitty gritty behind the project.
He confirmed that he heard the Cross River State House of Assembly Leader who is representing Ogoja State constituency, Peter Odey said the place was allocated to him by the state government.
It was actually on this ground that, in a quest to reclaim the property after the lawmaker began working on the land that he took his hands off the property, reconciled with the lawyers and supported in the reconstruction work.
The NBA chairman said “it was allocated to him by the government but we can’t confirm that. He told us that he applied for Land to the governor and the governor approved, so the commissioner for Land allocated the place to him, that’s what he said, that’s what he told us from his end and I said no, they can’t allocate a court to you. Let them give you their own land, a vacant land not a court.
“Seemingly the issue has been resolved and there are no more issues since he himself said he can’t take a court and he donated to us, it means he has acted as a leader because a leader should act in the circumstances.
“Like I told you the other day, it became a blessing to us in disguise. I have been looking for money to renovate that place for long. I’ve met so many of them, politicians begging for funds and all of that but since this thing happened, it serves as a wakeup call. It has in a way become a blessing in disguise. We intend to start the renovation work this week”.
He assured that that the resources gathered so far will be channelled accordingly. He said the roof of the building was blown away by a windstorm and that they were using it sparingly but couldn’t use it as the rain became too much.
“When the rain was too much, we moved to the local government council and the paramount ruler came and chased us out of the place, we went to the legislative chambers and the councillors came and chased us again. We were on the process of renovating the place before it was purportedly sold,” he explained.
He appreciated those that have donated, adding that they are going to write letters to them in appreciation of their kind gestures.
Meanwhile, the Cross River state House of Assembly Leader, Peter Odey said “the place was abandoned for over 25 years so the ministry of land in Cross River had thought that the people do no longer have any need for the place and in their own effort to allocate land to people to raise revenue for the state. Unfortunately, that particular portion of Land was allocated to me, that is what caused the whole controversy.”