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SPEECH DELIVERED BY HON. JUSTICE THERESA UZOAMAKA UZOKWE, THE CHIEF JUDGE OF ABIA STATE

By admin on March, 9 2015

Views: 2474

SPEECH DELIVERED BY HON. JUSTICE THERESA UZOAMAKA UZOKWE, THE CHIEF JUDGE OF ABIA STATE OF NIGERIA ON SATURDAY, THE 7™ DAY OF MARCH, 2015, ON THE OCCASION OF THE FORMAL COMMISSIONING AND TAKING OVER OF A MODERN HIGH COURT COMPLEX ERECTED BY THE ERINMA AGE GRADE OF ABIRIBA IN ABIRIBA, OHAFIA L.G.A, OF ABIA STATE OF NIGERIA.

 

PROTOCOL

It gives me great pleasure to be invited to be here for the commissioning and taking over of this High Court Complex which was initiated by the Ojghirindu Age Grade of Abiriba and completed by the Erinma Age Grade of Abiriba in the Ohafia L.G.A. of Abia State of Nigeria in commemoration of her IgwaMang ceremony which took place on the 29th day of December, 2014. The same High Court Complex which is ultra-modern in form is today being donated ex-gratia to the Abia State Judiciary by the afore-mentioned Erinmia Age Grade. I must say that !felt deeply touched by this gesture of the Age Grade.

 

The Abia State Judiciary is indeed extremely grateful for the above-mentioned gesture of the Erinmia Age Grade which is not only patriotic but also kind and courageous. I am not surprised at the same action or gesture of the Age Grade since patriotism and courage are the hallmark and the bedrock of the success of the Abiriba business entrepreneurship. They are also at the root of the success and the development of Abiriba as a community. Besides, being a very close friend of many Abiriba indigenes, I have the privilege of probing further into the subject-matter and history of IgwaMang ceremony. And my curiosity was handsomely rewarded. I was made to understand that the IgwaMang ceremony is a celebration of the success of a courageous adventure, patriotically undertaken by the members of an Age Grade in Abiriba in the service of the community for a number of specific years. In the ancient times, the service used to last for four years. But it is now for two years.

 

In the past, the duties of an Age Grade during her years of service included such risky adventures and other current but relevant obligations as are hereunder stated; viz:

  1. Going to war on behalf of the community;
  2. Warding off attackers and repealing slave raiders;
  3. Acting as emergency managers for the community, (for examples, putting out fires, controlling floods, searching for missing persons, etc.):
  4. Guarding, protecting and securing the community and its borders;
  5. Enforcing the community's sanctions against any person or group;
  6. Executing and enforcing royal decrees issued by the Enachioken-in-Council;
  7. Undertaking at least one developmental project in the community; and
  8. All the responsibilities being presently shouldered by any Age Grade during her service period.

 

It is therefore understandable why the surviving members of an Age Grade who successfully completed the service in the past, despite all the risks involved, were eventually celebrated by being received or welcomed back to the community in a colourful ceremony. The same culture of service, although in a modified form and the IgwaMang Ceremony is still in practice in the community up till now.

 

In essence; when an Age Grade performs the IgwaMang which is the ceremony of the historic return of her members from the above-mentioned compulsory service, then the members are discharged from such service. While another Age Grade will take over such service from the discharged Age Grade which is her immediate predecessor.

 

As indicated above, part of the service of an Age Grade is that it must execute a developmental project for which she must be remembered.

 

The same project will serve as an everlasting monument to her service to the community. As earlier noted, this High Court Complex is the developmental project executed by the Erinma Age Grade in commemoration of her aforesaid period of service. The Abia State Judiciary is the lucky beneficiary of the said project and is therefore very happy for the same reason. Consequently, the reason for our deep gratitude as earlier expressed can now be understood.

The Igbo communities are generally known to be thriving on such self-help projects for the development of their communities. They engage in such projects for the individual improvement (up-lifting) of their communities in competition or in comparison with their neighbours. Such projects may also be devised in support of the efforts of the government in improving the lots of the people. It is also a way of acknowledging the fact or reality that the government alone cannot do everything for them. For the same reason, they task themselves with projects aimed at developing their communities for the benefits of the people.

 

It is obvious that no other Igbo community exemplifies the Igbo communal spirit as defined above as the Abiriba people. This is so because of the Age Grade system and its associated benefits which have existed therein from the inception of the community itself. That is also why a lot of buildings and other structures in Abiriba are a pleasant study in aesthetics, it is therefore no wonder that building/structural engineering, architecture and masonry have tastefully combined to turn Abiriba to a "small London" within our shores. That is the wonder of the Age Grade system and the associated benefits therein.

 

It is appropriate now to thank the Enachioken of Abiriba, His Royal Majesty, EzeKaluKaluOgbu, the IV, the Enachsoken-in-Council (the Eze's Cabinet) and the entire people of Abiriba for maintaining, sustaining and continuing the practices of the reasonable and beneficialcustoms, traditions and culture of their people, such as the Age Grade system and the IgwaMang ceremony. As seen above, their benefits are obvious, cannot be under-estimated and cannot be over-emphasized.

 

We thank your Royal Majesty, the Enachioken and the Enachioken-in-Council for organizing your community very well and for giving your people a proper sense of direction. We also thank you for your good, efficient and effective leadership without which the benefit we are celebrating today and others could not have been possible. The project we are here to commission is an eloquent testimony that Abiriba community under your charge is united and focused. We implore you to continue with your good and effective leadership.

 

We also thank you, the Abiriba people as a whole, for your loyalty to the Enachioken and the Enachioken-m-Council. We further urge you to continue to stand united under your leaders and to keep up the pace of the development of your community, as nothing can be gained or realized where there is no unity in a community. We beseech other communities in Abia State to emulate the people of Abiriba in their developmental strides.

 

May we use this opportunity to thank the Abiriba people in a special way for their immense contributions to the development of the Law, the Legal Profession in general and the Judiciary in particular in terms of human resources. Such Legal Personages as Barrister EchemeEmole, Hon. Justice NdemEmole, Chief K.K. Ogba (the last Hon. Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice of the defunct East-Central State of Nigeria, the first Hon. Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice of the former Imo State of Nigeria and presently the Cock of the Bar in both Imo and Abia States), Hon. Justice A.O. Otisi (Mrs) of the Court of Appeal, many Magistrates still in the service of the Abia State Judiciary and other numerous lawyers in Abia State and other places are all the worthy contributions of your community to the legal profession and the Judiciary. I mustspecially mention Hon. Justice NdemEmole (late) who was my father's

bosom friend. For the same reason, it cannot be over-emphasized that Abiriba as a community knows the value of a High Court and is therefore qualified and entitled to host and have a High Court.

 

Let me also thank you in a special way, the Ojghirindu Age Grade for initiating this project and the Erinma Age Grade for making sure it was actualized, I salute you for your courage and commend you for your efforts. Having provided us with a modern High Court Complex, the Abia State Judiciary hereby promises to put the same to good use and to use it for the purposes for which it was erected and donated to us which are, namely, for quick and judicious dispensation of justice and decongestion of cases in the Courts within the area. We further promise to ensure that a High Court Judge will be sitting there. That will be after the cases which originated from Abiriba area are sorted out. It is however our prayer and hope that the litigants who will come before the same Court shall receive the deserved justice.

 

My Lords, Your Worships, the Learned S.A.N.(s), members of the Bar, Your Royal Majesty, EzeKaiuKaluOgbu, the IV (the Enachioken of Abiriba), the Enachioken-in-Council, Chiefs and other title holders, the Erinma Age Grade of Abiriba, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, it is now my singular honour and privilege to call upon His Excellency, Chief T.A. Orji (CON), (Ochendo Global), to commission this High Court Complex for and on behalf of the Abia State Judiciary and to the Glory of God.

 

I thank you all for your attention.

 

 

Hon. Justice J. U. Uzokwe

Chief Judge, Abia State of Nigeria