Onnoghen: Lawyers Boycott Courts in Enugu

Walter Onnoghen
Walter Onnoghen

Absence of lawyers at various courts in Enugu on Tuesday stalled court proceedings following the directive by the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) of Federation to boycott courts for two days.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the boycott order by the NBA was based on what it termed the `unconstitutional suspension’ of the former 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 Jan. 29 and 30.

At the Appeal Court and National Industrial Court, lawyers were not seen within the premises as only administrative staffs were busy at their various offices.

Reacting to the development, the former 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.

At the Federal High Court, Mr Raymond Nnaji, a legal practitioner, said that NBA boycott order came at the appropriate time when it mattered a lot to the Judiciary and the masses.

“What we are observing is the two day boycott order and more may follow if the Federal Government failed to redress her steps.

Nnaji said that boycotting sitting was the primary constituency with respect to the arbitrary decision of the Federal Government to suspend the CJN `unlawfully and unconstitutionally’.

“How can President Muhammadu Buhari suspend the CJN with a flimsy excuse relating to ex parte order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal even when the jurisdiction of that court is being challenged?

“Therefore, we must have to obey and ensure that this rascality and unnecessary use of powers were called to order because we should not allow these things to be happening,” he said.

Mr Joe Obiasi, a lawyer said that the president had no right to suspend the former CJN.

According to Obiasi, it is the responsibility of the Nigeria Judicial Council (NJC) to carry out an investigation on the allegation leveled against the CJN.

He explained that if after the investigation by the NJC and the CJN was guilty of the allegation, then he would be sacked and arraigned for prosecution.

He pointed out that the provision of 36 (5) of the 1999 constitution as amended stated that an accused person remained innocent until proven otherwise.

“It is unethical and as well a calculated plan to remove  Onnoghen from office and it is unacceptable,” he said.

Mr Frank Agbomuche, another Lawyer said that it was a judicial coup d’etat which should not be allowed in Nigeria.

Agbomuche stressed that Onneghen’s suspension was an issue of anarchy, adding that Nigeria should not be allowed to go the way of Libya.

Mrs Uju Obasonya, a female Lawyer, said there was need to follow due process for fairness and justice while carrying out constitutional functions so as to get things done rightly.

Obasonya called on Federal Government to urgently do the needful as it concerned the judiciary, saying that the NJC should be allowed to perfume it constitutional duties.

Meanwhile, some clients at the courts were stranded as a result of the boycott.

One of the clients, Dr Christian Akpata said that he came to the court for his matter slated today only to find out that the court was not seating.

Akpata, who came from Akama-Oghe in Ezeagu Local Government of the state, said that his matter was supposed to come up at the Federal High Court but no judge was present.

“We are still waiting to know why the court is not sitting before we can then find our way back home.

“I do not know that the court will not sit. I just found out that there will be no sitting,” he said. (NAN)