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29 Jan 2019

Lawyers Shun NBA Boycott’s Order, Cases On In Lagos, Supreme Court

Lawyers have shunned the boycott order issued by the Nigerian Bar Association on Monday.

Cases are presently being heard at the Supreme Court with Justice Mary Peter-Odili presiding.

Contrary to the directive by the Nigerian Bar Association that lawyers should boycott court for two days in protest against the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, by President Muhammadu Buhari, judges in Lagos State are sitting, with lawyers conducting cases before them.

PUNCH correspondent, on a visit to the Lagos State High Court in Igbosere, observed that despite the NBA’s directive, normal court activities were in full swing.

For example, the courtroom of Justice Adedayo Akintoye was brimming with accused persons who appeared for their trial.

It was a similar situation in the court rooms of Justices Lateefa Okunnu, Grace Onyeabo, where lawyers were conducting their cases without let.
In Justice Taofeekat Abdullahi-Oyekan’s court, a large number of lawyers were seated, awaiting the arrival of the senior judge at about 10.30 a.m.

At the Lagos State High Court in Ikeja, normal legal activities were also going on unhindered.

A lawyer, Mr Olufemi Olabisi, when approached, described the directive by the NBA as useless, noting that the judges were not carried along.

He explained that if he stayed away from the court, the judge could strike out his client’s case, wondering who would account for the cost.

“I have a privity of contract with my client; the NBA has no input into how I got my employment and how I got my clients. So, the NBA cannot ask me to stay away from the court.

“The NBA directive is useless without carrying the judges along,” he said.

Olabisi, who works in the law firm of Mr Festus Keyamo (SAN), said he was in court to defy the directive by the NBA, stressing that he was even willing to take a case on pro bono just to defy the NBA.

When contacted on phone as to why his members shunned the directive of the national NBA, the Chairman, NBA Ikeja, Mr Dele Oloke, said he was still in Abuja, as the national NBA meeting finished late on Monday.

He added, “What we are doing is to save the integrity of the judiciary, which has been tormented in recent times. So, if on their own they believe that what we are doing is of no use to them, time will tell.

“As far as we are concerned, it will not be in a long while before a governor will go to a customary court to obtain an ex parte order to remove a judge. Then, they will have themselves to blame. But for us as Bar leaders, we will not shirk in our responsibilties to offer purposeful leadership.

“But if people are not seeing beyond their immediate nose and they can’t see into the larger picture, there is nothing we can do about it.

“History will be very kind to us that when we saw what was wrong, when we saw constitutional infractions, not only did we rebuke it, we walked the talk and for those who frustrate our effort history also will have a place for them.”

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