By: Uche Ndeke
The Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) in Anambra State has issued a seven day ultimatum to all the governors of the federation, particularly Governor Willie Obiano, to commence the implementation of the financial autonomy of the judiciary or risk mass protest.
Speaking under the aegis of Committee of Chairmen of Branches of Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) in Awka, the group said if the governors failed to make trustworthy commitment towards the immediate implementation, they would have no other option than to join forces with the Judiciary Workers and mobilize the public in a protest to compel government to fully comply.
Their spokesperson and Chairman Nigeria Bar Association, Nnewi, Mr. Kingsley Awuka, expressed regret that the ongoing strike by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) had crippled the dispensation of justice in all the courts across the country.
He called on the governors to respect the Executive order number 10 signed by president Muhammadu Buhari in the interest of the nation’s democracy.
“The Committee is aware that the Governors of the 36 States of Nigeria have deliberately subjected the judicial arm of Government to their subservient appendage.
“This grossly unconstitutional situation has in turn eroded the autonomy and independence of the judiciary and led tojust ice infrastructural and human resource deficit in the judicial arm of Government.
“Consequently, the justice sector of our country is progressively sliding into the destructive dungeon with no hope in sight of its recovery.
“But suffice it to say that the importance of judicial independence and autonomy is under-scored by the fact that whereas in some kind of government, the executive and legislative arms can fuse, there is no conceivable system of government that has not aspired to preserve the sanctity of the autonomy and independence of the judiciary.
“It is for the fore-going reasons, among others, and after critical review of the situation and having widely consulted with the leaders and senior members of the Bar across the eight (8) branches of NBA in Anambra State, that we, the Committee of Chairmen of NBA Branches in Anambra State, resolve to and state as follows.
“That section 121 (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) is clear and unambiguous. And that the judgment of Federal High Court, which interpreted the said section in a judgment delivered on or about 13th Jan 2013, is extant.
“That the Committee fully lends its support to the demands of JUSUN and shall sustain this support until the demands are met,” the Bar Chairman stated.
Mr Awuka urged Governor Willie Obiano to be mindful that Anambra State was preparing for election and that the justice sector needed to be more functional than any other state of the federation.
They also called the attention of the Anambra State Government to the rot and dilapidated condition of infrastructure in the State judiciary.
They noted it had become a regular practice in many courts for judges and lawyers to un robe due to the non conducive state of environment where they sit.
“Many High Courts, where Judges sit, are in dire straits. It is has now become a regular practice in many courts in the State for judges and lawyers to un-robe due to the non-conducive and unbearable state of the environment where they sit,” the statement pointed out.
JUSUN had embarked on a nationwide strike to press the executive arm of the thirty-six states to implement the financial autonomy and independence of the judicial arm of government as interpreted by the federal high court, which had not been upturned till date.