An Awka High Court presided over by Justice Peace Otti, has issued an order to the Anambra State government, demanding the immediate construction of roads in Awka town and its villages to reflect its status as the state capital.
Justice Otti, from Awka High Court three, delivered the landmark judgment in Suit No A/MISC87/2022, which was brought before the court by the incorporated Trustees of the Association of Awka Indigenous Advocates against the Anambra State government.
Justice Otti described the neglect of Awka as unfair to its people and residents, noting that since the creation of Anambra State in 1991, successive administrations have abandoned the development of the city.
The court upheld three out of the four reliefs sought in the lawsuit. These reliefs include a declaration that the failure and neglect by the Anambra State government to construct and maintain roads in Awka, the state capital, is a violation of its constitutional obligation.
Furthermore, the court declared that this neglect has resulted in severe restrictions on the freedom of movement for the indigenes and residents of Awka, violating their right to freedom of movement as guaranteed by Section 41(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended.
As a result, the court compelled the Anambra State government to immediately commence extensive reconstruction, rehabilitation, and repair of all roads in Awka to ensure the free movement of people and secure the lives of the indigenes and residents of the town.
However, Justice Otti declined to uphold the final relief sought, which requested an order compelling the Anambra State government to pay the applicants the sum of N500,000,000 (five hundred million naira only) for the benefit of its members and other affected individuals in Awka whose lives and movement have been negatively impacted by the government’s negligence.
The lawsuit was brought under the provisions of Section 33(1) and 41 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, as well as Articles 4 and 12(1) of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Cap A9 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, and Order 11, Rules 2 and 3 of the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2009.
Led by the Chairman of Awka Indigenous Advocates, Ifeanyi Nwonwu, ESQ, of Okwuawka Chambers, the legal team vigorously argued during the trial that despite being the capital of Anambra State for 22 years, Awka still lacks the necessary infrastructure to reflect its status.
They blamed past governments, particularly the administration of the immediate past governor, Chief Willie Obiano, for the neglect.
Reacting to the judgment, the former Deputy Speaker of the Anambra State House of Assembly, the Right Honorable Keluo Muolokwu, expressed disappointment that successive governments chose to neglect Awka as the state capital.
He emphasized that there is no other city in the South East region that can be compared to Awka in terms of developmental infrastructure and that it is disheartening that little or no effort was made to develop the city in the 22 years since its creation.
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