The Day Nigeria’s Appeal Court Becomes A Victim Of Natural Disaster
Like any other victim of natural disaster, the country’s Appeal Court is threatened by flood. ERIC IKHILAE writes that if nothing urgent is done to bring the situation under control; it would spell doom for an arm of the judiciary.
When the engineering team at the Court of Appeal in Abuja, led by the Director, Engineering and Maintenance, Zailani Tijani, took the decision last year, to erect an embankment at the foot of the edifice housing the court’s headquarters and the Abuja Division, it was thought that a permanent solution to the recurring challenge of flood in the premises was found.
The embankment, erected at the rear of the structure housing the Abuja Division which sits on the lower end of the building, was said to have cost about N30 million to put in place.
But, as if it was sending a message to the effect that the team of engineers made an inaccurate diagnosis and applied the wrong drugs, the flood returned between September 16 and 17, with an enhanced ferocity.
It spilled into offices, including the court’s archive, leaving case files, among other documents destroyed. It threatened the court’s “power section” – housing electricity transformers, huge power generating plants and other critical installations and left members’ of staff official vehicles submerged. They were only retrieved when the flood subsided hours later.
When The Nation visited the premises last Friday, members of staff were still talking about the effect of the flood and how to prevent a recurrence.
An official said: ”Some of our files were affected. We intend to work with lawyers in cases affected, for replacement. We have never had it so bad.”
“We had to escape without our vehicles. We were only able to recover our vehicles the next day when the flood had receded. My car is currently with the mechanics. They are battling to fix it. The car was totally submerged in the flood. Beside the engine that is said to have been affected, all the documents I had in the car were also affected.”
One of the court’s members of technical staff, who conducted The Nation round the “power section”, said they were lucky it did not rain at night, because the impact would have been more devastating.
“This place houses our critical electricity equipment. If it is flooded, the impact on the safety of occupants of the building would be grave. Power supply would be affected, in addition to the threat to the safety of occupants of the building. The transformers here are linked with those supplying power to the Force Headquarters, the Supreme Court and other critical institutions around here. We have complained to the people in charge.
“They appear to be reluctant to act. Maybe they want the whole place submerged and people killed before they take action,” the official said as he led The Nation to the back of the premises, where the problem seems to emanate from.
Besides that, the drainage network in the court premises requires attention. It was discovered that the rise in the water current experienced lately whenever it raised results from the impact of the road recently built behind the structure.
With the embankment now unable to address the flood challenge, many members of staff and court users have queried the competence of the engineers and urged the court’s management to seek external help, by liaising with the relevant state’s agencies involved in flood control and disaster management.
Zenani told reporters on Friday that it could not be said that the embankment did not serve its purpose, but that the court requires assistance of relevant agencies in flood control and disaster management.
It was learnt that the court’s President, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, wrote to Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister Mohammed Bello the previous year on the issue, but the court had not heard from either the minister or his agents.