Lawyers from the Ikeja Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association on Tuesday embarked on a peaceful protest to the Lagos State Government House, in full solidarity with the striking Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria, who have downed tools across the country since April 5 over the lack of financial autonomy for the states’ Judiciaries.
The Lawyers also joined several other NBA branches in the country to visit Governors in their respective states so as to press home JUSUN’s demands, as directed by the NBA President, Olumide Akpata.
Popularly called the Tiger Branch, the protesting lawyers numbering about sixty, led by their Chairman, Bartholomew Aguegbodo, marched from the Bar Centre at Ikeja to the Government House at Alausa. But, they were prevented from entering the premises, despite demanding to see the Governor, his deputy or the Head of Service.
Eventually, about four representatives of the branch, including the chairman and two former chairmen were granted access to go in and drop their letter with one Mr Deji, said to be the officer in charge of mails, who promised to deliver it to the Governor.
In the letter, the Chairman noted that Judicial activities have seen been halted throughout the country due to the ongoing strike. Mr Aguegbodo added that the subject of the industrial action is the state governments’ “historical non-compliance with sections 81(3) and 121(3) of the Nigerian Constitution which grant financial autonomy to state Judiciaries.
According to him, the constitutional provisions essentially require that any amount standing to the credit of the Judiciary in the Consolidated Revenue Funding of the State be paid directly to the heads of Court concerned.
The branch therefore asked Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to, “immediately set in motion the process of implementing financial autonomy of the state Judiciary, in the interest of our democracy.”
Meanwhile, the other four branches of the NBA in Lagos state, namely Lagos, Ikorodu, Epe and Badagry have agreed to pay a “visit” to the Lagos House, Marina to “visit” the Governor on Tuesday, after having gotten the support of the NBA President, Olumide Akpata.
This was after efforts to make the Ikeja branch join the other branches in the visit tomorrow failed, as the branch insisted that it had resolved at its last monthly meeting to embark on a protest march on Monday, even before the directive from the NBA President.