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OPINION

Menance of family institution and rescue mandate

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By Ike Okonkwo

THE import of family court system recently unveiled by Justice Onochie Anyachebelu, the incumbent Chief Judge of Anambra State, to all intents and purposes, although a wisdom in the right direction, can be fathomed out from unresolved challenges facing the judiciary in administration of justice with convenience in Nigeria.

  Do we have to relay issues that stall fast-tracking of prosecution, litigation and court trials? In this situation, there is need to mention indiscriminate and arbitrary adjournment, missing and tampering of files, withdrawal and transfer of cases to another court, congestion of court with matters and correctional centers stuffed with inmates detained for a long time without trial.

Not only do they constitute a cog in the wheel of progress of the judiciary but sometimes resulted in sine-die of cases and/or outright abandonment due to frustration of the complainant, plaintiff or litigant and thus, made closure of some case files inevitable. Indeed, these short-falls are not even palatable to the judicial and the executive arms of government as they equally receive media bashing.

As a matter of fact, it is worrisome that insufficient and poor court rooms and houses, poor welfare of judges, corrupt practices and lack of personnel are still existing issues that call for attention which combine with others earlier mentioned to impede and compound effective determination of court matters in the country.

Time is therefore ripe to stop any blame game of ineptitude against critical public sector functionaries as this cannot sort out any problem obviously fuelled by the alarming increase of crime across the nation.

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It is apt to state that issues of rape, incest, ritual killing, murder, banditry, terrorism, kidnapping and ransom, armed robbery, stealing with pen, criminal diversion of public funds as well as disruption of family life and values among

Others too numerous to mention beg for combined efforts of the three tiers of government and the critical sector interest groups to sort and solve.

To be candid, the belief that Anambra State through research has the least crime rate in the country cannot be questioned but despite this contemporary position, the state has found it necessary to establish a purposive court clearly designed to tackle debasement of family institution. This is a welcome package.

Christened already as Family Court from the perspective of Anambra State First Lady, Mrs. NonyeSoludo and the Ministry of Women Affairs Commissioner, Mrs. Obinabo and others of their ilk, is a development of inestimable value which Justice Anyachebelu’s led judiciary set in motion to ebb away some intricate problems of the judiciary in relation to gender based related matters especially peculiar to Igbo nationality.

The excitement and admiration of Mrs. Soludo about the emergence of the court which she disclosed is the second in the country, coming after similar one in Lagos could indeed emanate from the gender-related controversies that tear families apart.

In this category are ill-conceived actions by some category of human beings against widows, orphans, under-privileged persons, whose right of inheritance are denied readily come to mind.

World history shows that civilisation could come from positive and negative perception. Unfortunately in Nigeria, callous sexual harassment, infidelity, child labour and abuse, battering which is derived from the latter (negative) are knotty problems that debase family institution.

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It is sufficient knowledge to say that womanhood in Igbo nation is an embodiment of all family virtues and existence which is why attempts to ridicule the institution by imperialism was resisted with vehemence in the past.

Today, it is sad that selfish-minded people have wittingly or otherwise accepted the theory of neo-cultural liberalism at the expense and detriment of the Igbo family institution. There is no doubt that it is to stem this monstrous tide from continuing that prompted the synergy and co-operation of the Anambra State Executive and the judicial arms of government to create the Family Court.

Hence it has become pertinent for Ministry of Women Affairs of Anambra State in particular and other right groups to gear up for action of mobilisation and education of concerned persons to seek redress based on facts raised by the complainant, defence and witness.

Since Anambra State has taken the lead into the venture of solving the social malaise through judicial process, expeditious action of justice delivery devoid of delay, adjournment and remand of suspects in custody should be maintained to justify the new court system, purposefully established to bring down two birds with one slingshot. It is a good device that helps to free court and correctional centers of congestion and finally to restore dignity of family life by speedy adjudication and confidence in the judiciary.

The court, known to have swung into action is a recognition of the family as the nucleus upon which government efforts revolve as Nigeria is today wobbling and drifting because the federal government and the peripheral governments have not considered family as the engine of progress. Being the first to adopt Family Court, there is no doubt that the government of ChukwumaSoludo would move mountains in Anambra State, to raise the banner of family which he has begun already from some order.

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One good thing among others is that the knowledge of the existence of the court in communities and towns would instill discipline, caution and fear into would-be-offenders.

Okonkwo is a veteran journalist

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