Anambra state chapter of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) on Monday staged a peaceful protest at the government house, Awka the state capital over financial autonomy and independence of the judiciary.
They accused Governor Willie Obiano of giving deaf ears to their requests contained in the letter they earlier sent to him.
The lawyers with their placards, had on arrival, stood beside the entrance to the gate leading to the government house, but later blocked the gate after over 30minutes wait without being attended to.
Some of the placards read, “Gov Obiano please implement the constitutional provisions on financial autonomy and independence of the Judiciary”, “Anambra state branches of NBA demand financial autonomy and independence of the Judiciary”
Speaking on behalf of the eight NBA branches in the state, the chairman, Kingsley Awuka said they decided to come with few members following ugly experience in the last protest where they lost a member, adding that the protest was not about the legal body nor lawyers, but the common man.
He said, “We’re here today because of the silence the governor gave to our press release where we appealed to him considering the peculiar situation of the state and that his APGA-led government is a product of judicial independent and bravery.
“We feel saddened that the government of this party which supposed to do everything to ensure that the judicial arm of government is strengthened beyond what’s obtainable in other states is doing nothing in that regard.
“If the judiciary yielded to execute subjection during that time, the mandate given to APGA would have been stolen till date.
“Go round our court rooms, they’re in a mess, judges sit without their robes, lawyers sit without properly being dressed because of the unconducive environment. Magistrates take turns to officiate for lack of infrastructure.
“Election is around the corner and other matters that would require judicial interventions will soon come up. We wonder where people will go when the time comes.
“For the past one month our courts have been under lock, the insecurity in the state has heightened. If any of the suspects are arrested, where will they be taken and tried? The judicial branch of government is dead.
“We are not here to embarrass the government but to appeal to our consciences. It’s not about the NBA or lawyers. It’s about the common man, everybody, including the governor himself.
“He has the capacity and don’t need to wait for the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) to take action because when we were electing him, we didn’t look at others, but elected him on his own merit.”
Responding, Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Solo Chukwulobelu commended the lawyers for their peaceful conduct, assuring them of speedy delivery and intervention of the governor to their letter.
“We’re working out an arrangement with the Judiciary on the Financial autonomy based on available resources. But that of judicial independence is a national issue and not state driven,” he added.