By Jonathan Ugbal
Infrastructural decay is one of the many issues that overtime have become front burners in the political and economical discourse of both the electorate and elected in Cross River State.
This impacts directly on the economy and welfare of the citizenry as decayed infrastructures are often left or ignored despite appeals by workers, who overtime are forced to either adapt to crude working environments, use their monies create better working environment or stop working entirely.
The Okworotung customary court which is under the Utugwang district court in the Obudu local government division is an example as a visit to the court will leave a first timer in doubt about whether it is indeed a temple of justice or a ‘kangaroo’ court.
The court which CrossRiverWatch gathered was built in the mid forties had its roof blown off by wind with the main courtroom and archives room worst hit and has been so for over fifteen years according to the clan head of the community Chief Moses Odikpo.
“I cannot exactly tell you the date this incident occurred but it has been like this for over fifteen years. The then registrar Angela Igrinya wrote countless letters attaching photographs but when you are not been answered you grow tired untill she was transferred out” he says.
Documents made available to CrossRiverWatch indcates that the registrar as at the time the wind blew off the roof, Mrs. Angela Egrinya in a letter dated May 1, 1997 and titled “APPLICATION FOR REPAIR/REPLACEMENT OF ZINC” co-signed by the Court President, Lazarus Opu to the Chief Registrar in the judicial headquarters, high court of justice, calabar had called for attention but got no reply.
Procrastination steals time and after a heavy downpour on 10th and 12th October 2002, the zinc finally came crashing down according to Mr. Ugani Ugani, a retired judicial staff who lives nearby.
The Registrar, Mrs. Angela Egrinya once again wrote to the Chief Registrar in the judicial headquarters in a letter titled “RENOVATION OF CUSTOMARY COURT COMPLEX UTUGWANG OBUDU” and dated October 20, 2002 informed the judicial headquarters about the plight of the staff.
In October 18, 2004, almost two years later Mrs. Egrinya wrote once more attaching pictures of the dilapidated structure in a letter titled “DAMAGE OF COURT HALL UTUGWANG DISTRICT COURT”.
The principal zonal inspector of records in the Obudu division as at that time Mr. A.A. Agba then wrote to the Chief Registrar in the judicial headquarters in a letter titled “RE: DAMAGE OF COURT HALL UTUGWANG DISTRICT COURT OBUDU”.
The tirade of letters continued again on November 17, 2004 when the principal inspector of records wrote to the higher registrar, Utugwang district court asking for more photographs of the building in a letter titled “REQUEST FOR EXTRA-COPIES OF PICTURES OF COLLAPSED COURT BUILDING”.
Over a decade after this exchange of letters the court is still lying in ruins as some locals now use it to store items as well as dry their locally parboiled rice before milling.
A staff who spoke on condition of anonymity decried the state of the building saying they had to move documents from their original archive room to a new room with some lost due to the rains.
The Councillor representing the Okworotung ward, Honorable Etiogbe Denis when asked if he was aware of the state of the court said he has plans towards that and will bring it on the floor of the legislature to deliberate upon.
Efforts to reach the President to get comments as at press time were futile as he was said to be out of town for a function.
Since You Are Here, Support Good Journalism
CrossRiverWatch was founded on the ideals of deploying tech tools to report in an ethical manner, news, views and analysis with a narrative that ensures transparency in governance, a good society and an accountable democracy.
Everyone appreciates good journalism but it costs a lot of money. Nonetheless, it cannot be sacrificed on the altar of news commercialisation.
Consider making a modest contribution to support CrossRiverWatch's journalism of credibility and integrity in order to ensure that all have continuous free access to our noble endeavor.