Members of NBA in Kwara State during the street protest

By Akewushola Afeez

Members of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Kwara State, on Wednesday, protested against the non-implementation of financial autonomy for the Judiciary.

The lawyers, who converged at the entrance of the Kwara State Government House in Ilorin, chanted solidarity songs and carried placards with several inscriptions calling for autonomy such as “Withholding Judiciary Fund, O to ge”, “Stop Pocketing Judiciary”, among others.

The street protest came following the nationwide strike embarked upon by the members of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria which started on Tuesday, April 6, 2021.

Speaking during the protest, Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, Ilorin Branch, Abdulganiyu Bello stated that they joined their counterparts nationwide to express displeasure over the non-implementation of financial autonomy for the Judiciary.

He said, “We are here on a visit to the Governor of Kwara State to intimate him on the need to give effect to the financial autonomy to our judiciary and we have been here for the past 45 minutes, nobody to attend to us. The governor is not here, likewise his Deputy. We were told that the Chief Press Secretary will attend to us, for more than 45 minutes, we couldn’t see him.

“So, we are forced to go back to our office. At least we have registered our mind and that is for them to obey the rule of law because laws are made to guide the conduct of the people in a given state or society including the government as well.”

Bello added that they are expressing their grievances in line with the directive of the national leadership of the bar association.

“We are having government based on law, and they should be seen following the details of law as well. So, we are not happy with the way our Governor is handling matters, especially with regards to the independence of the judiciary in our nation. Let them give effect to the court judgment that has been given since 2014 likewise the president assent to order 10 since may 2020, see where we are now. They are not making our democracy strive as required. So, we are calling on them to give effect to the rule of law by following the dictate of the law.”

For her part, the Chairman of International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Ronke Adeyemi called on the executives to allow the judiciary to work as a separate arm of the government as enshrined in the country’s constitution.

“There are three arms of government and they are supposed to operate separately but the Executive seems to be bent on making the judiciary to be underneath the executive and this is not good for our democracy,” Adeyemi said.

Olayinka Dauda Jimoh, the Chairman of the Young Lawyers Forum, Arewa Axis, speaking with our correspondent during the protest, also supported the judiciary’s independence.

He said, “We are here in solidarity with the judiciary, the independence of the judiciary is stated in the constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, but the Executive over the years has not strictly complied with the constitution. So in that regard, we want autonomy. What we are saying here is that we want independence for the judiciary, so that the judiciary will be able to dispense justice without fear or favour from the Executive.”

However, a mid-drama, ensued when the special adviser to the governor on political matter, Abdullateef Alakawa later came out to address the protesters about an hour after their arrival. But the legal practitioners who were angry refused to welcome him.

The legal practitioners, who lamented that the government representatives kept them waiting for about an hour under the scorching sun, refused to listen to them and thereafter left the protest ground angrily.

Meanwhile, Alakawa spoke on the government’s efforts in addressing the matter.

He reacted, “In a democratic system, it is not unexpected in a situation like that; the government will continue to engage the Judiciary. The issue to talk about is a national issue, but His Excellency the Governor of Kwara State (AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq) is particularly concerned about Kwara issue as it affects them and he is working round the clock to make sure that the matters are addressed.

“We recall that few days ago, Nigerian Governors Forum met on the same issue but whatever is done at the center, we have to come home and domesticate and see what can be done here and that’s what the Governor is committed for them to remain calm that as members of the judiciary, decorum, understanding and continuous negotiation with the government is encouraged. So government is committed to that and the government will continue to reach out to them to ensure that we are able to achieve amicable resolution matter.”

 

THE INFORMANT247 News Nigeria