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27 years after, Court of Appeal, Abuja, gets five-storey complex 

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PpWithin the next 14 months, the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal will finally move into its permanent premises, marking a significant milestone 27 years after its inception.
This development follows the groundbreaking and foundation-laying ceremony of a five-storey building, led by the retiring Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, on Wednesday, reports Persecondnews.
Currently, the Court of Appeal Headquarters in the Three Arms Zone, Abuja, houses the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal in a shared space.
Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister Ezenwo Nyesom Wike, who is driving the new project, has received approval from President Bola Tinubu to address the long-standing needs of the judiciary, including the provision of permanent premises for the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal.
During the ceremony, Wike praised Tinubu for promptly approving the project, stating that the president did not hesitate to give the green light to the construction of the new Court of Appeal building.
He said: “We must thank Mr. President. When the President of the Court of Appeal came last year during their legal year, you know, sometimes when you make a request and you see a politician accepts, most of them don’t agree, but knowing the president we have and his commitment, I knew it would come to reality.
“When he came back, I took this matter to Mr. President, and I told him that this was the request made by the President of the Court of Appeal, and the CJN who was there emphasized on it, and I want to tell you wholeheartedly that Mr. President said, ‘Why do you need to wait?
“After all, it is the FCT that rehabilitated the National Assembly Phase 1, and it is the FCT that rehabilitated the National Assembly Phase 2, which is an arm of government. So why are you not going to do this for this part of the government?.
“I will not be part of any project of this nature that will take two years. I will not be part of that. This is one project that I have seen that is well covered in the budget.
“This project will cost us N37 billion, but in the budget, Mr. President has provided N30 billion. So, the contractor has nothing to worry about. So by September next year, you will use this edifice for your legal year.
“Mr. President is not doing this alone. He has also provided that, when he heard where justices are living, people who are trying criminals and terrorists, he said we should have a judiciary who have their own houses.
“What Mr. President has done is that we should provide accommodations: 10 for the Court of Appeal, 10 for the Federal High Court, and 20 for the FCT High Court.
“He has approved that the heads of courts must have their retirement homes, and I want to assure you that by August, the foundation of these houses will be laid.”
Speaking on the occasion, CJN Ariwoola expressed gratitude to the Minister for his unwavering support and dedication to the Judiciary, acknowledging that Nigerians are well aware of his remarkable contributions to the Federal Judiciary during his tenure as Governor of Rivers State.
He said: “What we are having is a great thing. We have gotten the division of the court in Abuja to manage the small space they occupy. Now you have 10 courtrooms and offices in a five-storey building.
“On behalf of the Judiciary, the honourable minister of the FCT, we thank you very much. We appreciate you for what you are doing. You have just told the whole world that not only the Court of Appeal will benefit from your legacy, but also the heads of various courts and other courts.
“I understand you mentioned that not even the apex court will be forgotten. My board of justices of the Supreme Court is not here, but they said I should pass it on to the honourable Minister of the FCT that we don’t have another place to go too other than the FCT.
“So we believe that your administration and the administration of your boss, the head of government, will not forget about the apex court in the legacy being given to the judiciary.
“All the judiciary needs is to be left alone to function and perform its role unhindered, as much as possible. Like the President of the Bar said, once you take care of the judiciary, you have taken care of justice.
“If you cry for peace anywhere in the world, without justice, there can be no peace.”
The President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Dongban Mensem, earlier remarked that the Abuja division, established in 1997, has experienced tremendous growth, but this success has brought its own set of challenges.
She noted that housing the Abuja division within the Court of Appeal Headquarters has created logistical and security difficulties, making it a significant challenge to manage.
Mensem explained that the Court of Appeal frequently blocks off the surrounding roads for security reasons when hearing high-stakes political and terrorism cases, disrupting traffic and access in and around the headquarters.
Upon completion, the project situated in Dakibuyi District Sector Centre B will feature a state-of-the-art complex with 10 courtrooms, 10 suites for justices, administrative offices for the registrar and support staff, spacious file rooms for storing court documents, and convenient amenities like justices’ lounges and break rooms.
The President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Yakubu Maikyau (SAN), expressed disappointment that previous ministers of the FCT failed to give the judiciary the attention it deserved, neglecting its needs and hindering its ability to function effectively.
He said: “FCT was established in 1976, the same year that the Court of Appeal was established. FCT has had 16 ministers before Wike, but it is only now that we are having a ceremony such as this.”

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