BLOODY BETRAYAL! Lawyers Disobey NBA's Strike Order Over Onnoghen
Mixed reactions trailed the directive of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) for lawyers in the country to boycott court sittings for two days.
The boycott, which commenced Tuesday, failed to get the expected bite as some lawyers showed up in courts across the states of the federation and Abuja.
The boycott was declared by the NBA to protest suspension of Justice Walter Onnoghen, Chief Justice of Nigeria.
The NBA said the boycott was to press for the reversal of President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to suspend Onnoghen and appoint an acting Chief Judge.
The NBA arrived at the resolution at its National Executive Council meeting held on Monday.
While court activities were crippled in some states of the federation such as Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Ebonyi and Delta, there was partial compliance in some other states such as Lagos, Abia, Oyo, Ogun, Benue and few other states.
But in some other states such as Jigawa, Bauchi, and most states in the northern part of the country, full activities went on in the courts.
At the Lagos State High Court in Igbosere, normal court activities were in full swing.
For example, the courtroom of Justice Adedayo Akintoye was brimming with accused persons who appeared for their trial.
It was a similar situation in the court rooms of Justices Lateefa Okunnu, Grace Onyeabo, where lawyers were conducting their cases without let.
In Jigawa, the state chapter of the Bar did not join in the boycott.
The state chairman of the association Barrister Bashir Hussaini announced the stand while addressing news men at the Federal High Court, Dutse.
He explained that, “NBA Dutse branch express their deep concern on the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria but the branch would not embark on any strike or boycott court proceeding.”
“The branch will not embark on any strike or boycott of court proceedings, instead we will remain resolute always in support of the fight of corruption at any level,” Hussaini said.
In Abuja activities were stalled at FCT High Court, Apo, as lawyers complied with directive of the NBA.
All the courts within the complex did not proceed with cases slated for the day. Lawyers who came to court, said they were around to get new dates.
The situation was, however, different at the Federal High Court Complex, Abuja, as all the court sat for proceedings.
The situation was the same in the Supreme Court (located within the Three Arms Zone), through the Court of Appeal (located also in the Three Arms Zone), Normal activities went on peacefully as lawyers and judges appeared in court.
Some lawyers claimed not to have heard about the order. Others said the interest of their clients mattered more to them.
Barrister Hamid Kareem told Bounce News that directive by the NBA lacked the force of law.
He said since it was not an order of court, lawyers could choose to abide by it or disregard it where their client’s interest is at stake.
He noted that since the issue of the suspension of the CJN was already in court, the NBA and all other interested parties should allow the court reach a decision one way or the other.
When contacted as to why his members shunned the directive of the national NBA, the Chairman, NBA Ikeja, Dele Oloke said what the NBA was trying to do with the boycott is to save the integrity of the judiciary, which has been tormented in recent times.
He noted that if lawyers on their own believe that what the NBA is doing is of no use to them, he said time will tell.
“If people are not seeing beyond their immediate nose and they can’t see into the larger picture, there is nothing we can do about it.
"But for us as Bar leaders, we will not shirk in our responsibilities to offer purposeful leadership.
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