• Monday, April 15, 2024
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NBA’s court boycott order records partial success in Abuja

From every indication, the boycott order by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) recorded partially succeeded in Abuja, Tuesday.

Paul Usoro, NBA president, had after an emergency national executive council of the association in Abuja on Monday called on lawyers not to attend court sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday to protest President Muhammadu Buhari’s suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen.

BusinessDay findings, however, revealed that lawyers who had cases listed for hearing at the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal on Tuesday attended the courts’ sittings.

At the Federal High Court, Maitama, only one of the courts sat. Lawyers who had cases were in court to take date for next sitting.

At one of the courts, after a rowdy atmosphere created by the lawyers, the judge in chamber invited the senior lawyers for consultation.

According to one of the senior lawyers, who addressed other lawyers in the courtroom after the meeting, the judge was ready to sit, although he found out that other courts were not sitting.

“It is left for us to decide whether to take our cases or not,” he said.

The lawyers after deliberating on whether to comply with the NBA order or not, resolved to obey the order to boycott sitting.

The boycott, yesterday, led to the adjournment of more than 90 cases at the Federal High Court, Maitama, some of them political and time-bound.

Some of the lawyers, who spoke with BusinessDay, said they went to court because they had cases.

Some insisted it would be a disservice to their clients if their matter was called and their legal representatives were absent.

“Well, some lawyers came perhaps on the impression that the courts were not carried along. And it will be disastrous if you are not there when you matter is called,” said one of the lawyers who pleaded anonymity.

“Many people wanted to come to court and confirm if the NBA carried the judges along. So that is why you find so many of us in court. When some of the judges are sitting, lawyers will be left with no option than to take their matter,” he said.

When reminded that courts are not members of NBA to be carried along, he said, “Ordinarily, when this kind of thing happens, they have to be carried along. Send the communiqué, circular intimating them of the call because judges are members of NBA too, even though they are not like private practitioners, judges are also lawyers.”

Another lawyer aligned with the fact that judges may not have been carried along, saying, “Normally when NBA gives such order, judges have to be informed of the resolution of NEC.”

Asked if those who appeared in court will be penalised, he said, “You know there is lot of chaos all over the place, on the part of the judiciary, the bar, even the government, lots of lawlessness is going on. I don’t see anybody penalising anybody.”

The presence of lawyers in court may be seen as a sign of split in NBA or the lawyers’ support for the Federal Government. But a senior lawyer said it was not so.

“Certainly, one thing I can tell you from my experience is that my presence and that of other lawyers in court today is not endorsement of the Federal Government. The government may think mischievously that lawyers have defied the NBA; certainly this is not. All the lawyers are unanimous that this government is lawless, even though lawyers have reservation for the judiciary and the NBA too,” he said.


Felix Omohomhion, Abuja