By Ijendu Iheaka
Aba (Abia) – Ukwa people in Abia have criticised the relocation of the only state High Court, serving Ukwa East and Ukwa West Local Government Areas from Obehie, Ukwa West, to Aba.
Chief Sam Ogbonna, a lawyer from Ukwa told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday that the situation had caused untold hardship for litigants who commute from interior parts of Ukwa, close to Rivers, to the court in Aba.
NAN reports that the High Court sitting in Obehie presided over by Justice Chibuzo Ahuchaogu was relocated to Aba on June 8, a distance of over 25 kilometers.
The judge cited failed portions of road in Uratta and Ariaria areas in Aba on the Enugu – Port Harcourt Expressway, that delay arrival to the court, as reason for the relocation.
Ogbonna said that although the judge had moved opening of court sittings from 9:00 a.m to 10:00 a.m in the new area, yet people who have cases still found it inconveniencing.
“The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ukwa East and Ukwa West branch, our umbrella body, sent a representation to Mr Onuoha Ogwe, Abia Chief Judge, who said the decision is irreversible.
“All passionate appeal and protests made by our people failed. All the same, there is nothing we can do.
“We cannot question the authority of the chief judge, who as a lawyer endorsed the decision.
“It has brought untold hardship to litigants who ply the same bad road the judge said is the reason for relocating the court to Aba.
“I only feel for the litigants. I am appealing to the judiciary in Abia to reconsider the stand on the plight of the people of Ukwa concerning relocation of the court,” he said.
Chief Onyema Olujie, former Chairman, Akwete Joint Council of Chiefs, said it was regrettable the treatment always given to Ukwa people in the state.
Olujie said this was not the first time the judiciary was relocating the only court in Ukwa to a place outside its local government
He noted that the civil servants had no excuse but to abide by the decision of the judge.
He said that Ukwa people could have given a house to the judge on temporary basis, if he wanted a place to stay to avoid the bad road.
“Our people are not pleased with this decision because the court no longer belongs to us and lots of people will miss their court dates.
“Before you can pass through the bad road to the court in Aba, you will be late. It may create a lot of economic woes for us and we want it reversed,” he said.
NAN reports that the Deputy Chief of Staff to Abia Deputy Governor, Chief Don Ubani, an Ukwa indigene, wrote a letter on May 29, to Ogwe pleading for cancellation of the planned relocation to no avail.
However, phone calls made to the Abia Commissioner for Justice, Chief Uche Ihediwa, were not returned while messages sent to the phone were not responded to as at the time of filing this report.