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IMO STATE JUDICIARY

Thirty six States and a Federal Capital Territory, Abuja make up the Nigerian Federation. Each of those States is empowered to establish, maintain and develop judicial institutions, processes and human capabilities necessary to assure a system of law and order within their respective domains. Imo State is one of them.


The State's Judicature is made up:
  • of the judges, lawyers, non-judge staff of judicial centers; 
  • Lawyers, the local chapter of the Nigerian Bar Association, paralegal and support staff of law firms in the State that work its judicial centers;
  • Appellate bodies, like the Supreme Court of Nigeria and the Court of Appeal which have obligatory jurisdiction, at statutorily defined stages over the tribunals that operate in the State.
  • judicial research or regulatory institutions applicable to the state;
  • the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, local, customary and international laws applicable in the State as well as Court precedents, internal Court rules and procedures that bind its judiciary;
  • quasi-judicial bodies and panels which activities are reviewed by the judiciary;
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution centers in the State;
  • Support and regulatory institutions in the State;
  • Law libraries, police, prison services and other;
  • other arms and department of government which existence are critical to the funding, maintenance and appointment into the State’s judicial and related centers; and
  • the people and stakeholders of the State for whom the State’s judiciary and other dispute resolution processes and facilities of the State exist.


THE IMO STATE JUDICIARY

The Judicial arm of Government in Imo state is made up of the Imo State High Court of Justice, Customary Court of Appeal, Magistrate Courts and Customary courts.

The Head of the State’s Judiciary is the Chief Judge of the State who is also the Head of the State High Court. He is nominated by the Governor, in consultation with the National Judicial Commission while the State House of Assembly acts as the ratifying agent of state. He works with other Judges of the High Court as well as other non-judicial members of staff.

The Customary Court Appeal is presided over by a President and five other Honourable judges who are legal practitioners with not less than ten years-post-call experience and who are versed in the customary laws of the state. They are appointed by the Governor of the state on the recommendation of the national Judicial Council. They enjoy the same status with judges of the High Court in terms of privileges and remuneration. The Customary Court of Appeal hears appeals from the decisions of the Customary Courts on issues relating to or involving questions of customary laws and equally exercises supervisory jurisdiction over the customary courts.

There are, at present, 35 customary courts spread across the 27 Local government areas of the state. Even though similar courts had existed during the colonial era, customary Courts were re-established in Imo state following the promulgation of the Customary Courts Edicts no. 7 of 1984. The Courts became fully functional in 1986 while the Customary Court of Appeal came on board in 1989.

Initially, customary courts were manned by persons with no formal legal training including retired senior public officers who were considered as being knowledgeable in the customary law and usages prevailing in the various communities in which the courts are located. They hold office for a term of three years in the first instance and may be re-appointed for additional one or two years each. Currently, the practice is to appoint a lawyer as the chairman of any customary court.

The Judiciary of the State is a very key component of the its judicature. It is made up of judges, non-judge members of staff of the State judicial service, courts/tribunals and other judicial facilities, records and subsisting judgments obtained within the jurisdiction of the State court system which its courts are obligated to defend and enforce.

The Judiciary exist, chiefly, to interpret, apply and direct the enforcement of the laws, customs, and conventions that make up the State’ legal system. It’s sphere also extends to the protection or preservation of contracts, rights and freedoms that define the socio-political and economic space of the State.

It also helps to preserve and protect the rights and freedoms of individuals and corporate bodies in the State from the over-bearing reach of State officialdom or from other non-state entities – including multinational and local organizations that operate in the State.

Its reach even extends to the review of decisions of disciplinary panels of various professional and corporate organizations in the State.

Courts or tribunals found in the State could be broadly classified as national, state courts. Federal courts have jurisdiction over certain federal matters or objects in any corner of Nigeria. These include the Federal High Court; National Industrial Court; Code of Conduct Tribunal, Investment and Securities Tribunal, etc. These courts are either situated within the State or at a regional headquarter where the State is classified.

However, the class of courts with the greater presence and degree of interaction with local residents are State courts. These include the State High Court; Magistrate Courts; Customary Court of Appeal and Customary Courts, etc.

In recent times, alternative dispute resolution practices are becoming integrated into the judicial processes of Nigeria. Thus, not only are arbitral and mediated agreements being given the imprimateur of the Courts for enforcement, they are also being statutorily welded into State courts – as multi-door Courts.


HIERARCHY OF COURTS

The Supreme Court sits as the final appellate judicial authority over all the judicial and quasi-judicial processes in the State, followed by the Court of Appeal.

The State High Court and Customary Court of Appeal are the highest ranking tribunals under the direct control of the State government. They also have co-ordinate jurisdiction–equal and independent standing- between themselves but are restricted to matters and objects statutorily assigned to them.  Nonetheless, in spite of that, the Chief Justice of the State High State is regarded as the head of its judiciary.

The Federal High Court in the State and other federal tribunals of co-ordinate jurisdiction, like the National Industrial Court, Electoral Tribunals, Code of Conduct Bureau and special tribunals like the Disciplinary Body of various Professional bodies also have equal but independent standing with the top state tribunals even though their jurisdictions differ substantially.

These level of federal tribunals operate within the State but are not under the control of the State government as their operational dependency resides in the federal government - or, for the disciplinary tribunals, on the control and funding of the mechanism designated for them - usually by statute. Each of them cannot review a decision of the other and appeal lie from them straight to the Court of Appeal.

The magistrate courts and the customary courts bring up the lower rung of the judiciary of the State.


JUDGES OF IMO STATE JUDICIARY

STATE HIGH COURT
  Justice G.I. Udom-Azogu (Court of Appeal)*
 Justice A.U. Amaeshi
 Justice N.O. Adigwe
 Justice B.A Njemanze
 Justice I.O Agugua
 Justice C.I. Durueke
 Justice A.O.H. Ukachukwu
 Justice C.E. Nwosu-Iheme
 Justice A.N. Opara
 Justice P.O Nnadi
 Justice U.D. Ogwurike
 Justice F.I Duruoha-Igwe
 Justice P.C. Ikpeama
 Justice D.O Onyema
 Justice C.I. Ohakwe
 Justice N.B. Ukoha
 Justice C.M.I. Egole
 Justice N. Okoronkwo
 Justice G.I. Anunihu
 Justice C.A Ononeze Madu

CUSTOMARY COURT OF APPEAL

 Justice G. M. Nkwoada
 Justice J. Obasi Iwuagwu
 Justice A.B.C. Egu
 Justice O.I. Okpara
 Justice C. Anwukah



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IMO STATE JUDICATURE



State High Court

Chief Judge: Justice Benjamin A. Njemanze

Chief Registrar:




Customary Court of Appeal

President: Justice G. M. Nkwoada

Chief Registrar




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Courts per Local Government





                                                        

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