Court Boycott: Lagos lawyers express mixed reactions

Suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen
Suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen

Some lawyers in Lagos have expressed mixed reactions to the resolution by the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) for lawyers to boycott courts for two days.

The boycott is over what they tagged illegal suspension of the Chief Justice of the Federation (CJN), Walter Onnoghen.

The NBA reached the resolution after its National Executive Council meeting held on Monday Jan. 28.

However, some lawyers said such resolution would not be effective while others said it would send a message that rule of law and constitutional provisions should not be undermined.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the federal government had on January 25 suspended the CJN over failure to declare assets as required of every public servant.

The government had acted on a motion exparte granted by the Code of Conduct Tribunal, and replaced Mr Onnoghen with Tanko Mohammed as acting CJN.

Ogedi Ogu, a Lagos-based lawyer, told NAN that such resolution would not be effective because “even the NBA president, Paul Usoro has an unresolved issue which will make any protest led by him to appear as pursuing a personal vendetta.

“Based on what is in the public view, It is doubtful, if many lawyers are going to partake in this because the NBA president can not rally lawyers for anti corruption crusade when he has some corruption charges against him in court.”

He, however, advised that the provisions on exparte applications be strictly adhered to.

“The impression at the bar was that exparte applications were not grantable, but actions of the CJN and the federal government in obtaining different exparte applications have shown otherwise, however creating some sort of constitutional crisis,” Mr Ogu said.

Chibuikem Opara said that the call for lawyers to boycott courts for two days starting from January 29 was a good one.

He said such a resolution would make government to ensure that their actions were guided by the provisions of the constitution.

According to him, the court boycott is part of the sacrifices that should be made by every patriotic Nigerian, because if nothing is done urgently, other successive governments will believe that they can take laws into their hands.

Mr Opara believed that the action would save the judiciary from destruction.

“If the judiciary is destroyed, lawyers will be the ultimate losers. It will affect lawyers income.

“I would have liked if the boycott was for more than two days to send strong signal that provisions of the constitution should be strictly followed,” he said.

He said that the courts would be a ghost of itself if lawyers boycott them.

Another Lagos-based lawyer, Chris Ayiyi, in his own view, advised that exparte application should not be obtained fraudulently.

He said though the resolution to boycott courts was made to ensure that constitutional provisions was respected, “it would affect some lawyers’ day to day income”. (NAN)

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