The Rivers State Government has tasked members of the Rivers State Customary Court of Appeal (CCA) to avoid mistakes in interpreting the customs and culture of the people while delivering justice.
Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi made the call yesterday at the inaugural sitting of the Customary Court of Appeal at Rumuogba, in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of the state.
The Governor said the Court stands out as a specialised one and urged the judges to perform their functions with consideration to the diverse and unique cultures of the people of Rivers State. interpreting the law in such a way that it would not harm society.
He assured them that the permanent structures for the CCA would be built at the new Greater Port Harcourt City, and promised to release all budgetary allocations appropriated for them.
The state chief executive reminded the judges about the existence of a law that prohibits harmful practices, especially against women, and advised them to protect Rivers people against evil practices.
Also speaking, the state Chief Judge. Justice Iche Ndu, said the Customary Court of Appeal has appellate and supervisory role over Customary Court laws and commended Governor Amaechi for his swift action in approving the establishment of the CCA after 21 years of being in limbo.
He described the Customary Court of Appeal as complementing the work of the High Court in justice delivery and enjoined the Judges to live up to expectation by administering justice equitably.
Also speaking, the State President of the Customary Court of Appeal, Justice Peter Agumagu said there are 32 functional Customary Courts in the state headed by trained lawyers, with 830 cases pending in them while 282 appeal cases are pending.
Justice Agumagu said by the establishment of this Court, native laws and customs would be preserved as judgments would be documented for generations to come, and eulogized Governor Amaechi for making history in achieving the feat.
On his part. the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Ken Chikere. said the establishment of the CCA would help to decongest the High Courts. and thanked the State Governor for his interest in the growth of the judicial system in the state.
Dr P. C. Osanakpo (SAN) on behalf of body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria said the Customary Court of Appeal has long been awaited and thanked the state government for the decision as it would enhance quick dispensation of justice.