Onnoghen: Lawyers boycott courts in Enugu, Ebonyi
Absence of lawyers at various courts in Enugu on Tuesday stalled court proceedings, following the directive by the Nigeria Bar Association to lawyers to boycott courts for two days.
the same scenarios played in courts in Ebonyi State, where court proceedings had stalled as a result of the boycott.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the boycott order by the NBA was based on what it termed the “unconstitutional suspension” of Chief Justice of the Federation, Walter Onnoghen.
NAN Correspondents who monitored the situation at the customary, Magistrates, High, Federal and Appeal courts as well as the National Industrial Court, report that there were no proceedings in the courts.
The agency observed that few lawyers seen in the courts came to take new dates for their matters scheduled to take place on January 29 and 30.
At the Enugu Appeal Court and National Industrial Court, lawyers were not seen within the premises, as only the administrative staff members were busy at their various offices.
Reacting to the development, the former Enugu State chairman of NBA, Mr. Nnamdi Otukwu, said that boycotting court proceeding was the right thing to do to protect democracy and allow the rule of law to take its place.
“There is nothing wrong with the boycott; we are in a democracy and the rule of law should be allowed to take its place and not dictatorship.
“Even if the Chief Justice of Nigeria committed an offence, his removal should follow due process. We will not allow dictatorship take over democracy,” he said.
In the same vein, the NBA order for court boycott was complied with in Ebonyi State.
When NAN visited some of the courts, most judges reported for duty, but when some cases were called, there were no legal representations and no reason was given for the absence of counsel.
Lawyers deserted the Ebonyi High and Magistrates’ Courts, except for some judiciary workers who were at their duty posts.
However, visitors to the complex were thoroughly screened by security personnel at the gate.
Chairman of Abakaliki branch of the NBA, Mr. Festus Nweke, said the action was in compliance with the NBA’s National Executive Committee’s directive on the matter.
“The action taken by the Federal Government on Onnoghen is an invitation to anarchy, as the government was not the appropriate body to discipline a judicial officer in Nigeria.
“The courts will remain closed because the FG’s action is an aberration of the law that would not stand.
“We do not want a lawless society and we are monitoring our members in Afikpo and other places to ensure total compliance to the directive,” he said.
A political analyst, Mr. Basil Njima, however, faulted the NBA’s decision, noting that no judicial officer is above the country’s laws.
“Onnoghen erred in law, having admitted that he forgot to declare over N1bn as assets and therefore cannot remain as the country’s chief judicial officer.
“The Chairman of the National Judicial Council is the nation’s Chief Justice, so, it is morally wrong for him to preside over his own case,” he said.
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