The call by the Nigerian Bar Association to boycott courts across the country in protest of the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, partially succeeded in Abuja, Tuesday, succeeded partially.
The President of NBA, Paul Usoro after emergency national executive council in Abuja on Monday had called on lawyers not to attend court sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday to protest President Muhammad Buhari suspension of the CJN last Friday.
However, fndings by this correspondent revealed that lawyers, who have cases listed for hearing on Tuesday, at Supreme Court and Court of Appeal, attended the courts’ sitting.
At the Federal High Court, Maitama, only one of the courts sat. Lawyers, who have cases were in court to take date for next sitting.
At one of the courts, after a rowdy atmosphere created by the lawyers, the judge in chamber invited the senior lawyers for consultation.
According to one of the senior lawyers, who addressed other lawyers in the court room, after the meeting, said the judge is ready to sit, although he found out that other courts are not sitting. “It is left for us to decide whether to take our cases or not.”
The lawyers after deliberating on whether to comply with the NBA order or not, resolved to obey the order to boycott sitting.
The boycott led to the adjournment of more than 90 cases at the Federal High Court, Maitama, some of them political, which are time bound.
Some of the lawyers, who pleaded anonymity, said they came to court because they have cases.
Some insisted it will be a disservice to their clients if their matter were called and their legal representatives were absent.
According to one of them: “Well, some lawyers came perhaps on the impression that the courts were not carried along. And it will be disastrous if you are not there when you matter is called.
“Many people wanted to come to court and confirm if the NBA carried the judges along. So that is why you find so many of us in court.
“When some of the judges are sitting lawyers will be left with no option than to take their matter,” he said.
When reminded that courts are not members of NBA to be carried along, he said: “Ordinarily, when this kind of thing happens, they have to be carried along, send the communique, circular intimating them of the call because judges are members of NBA too, even though they are not like private practitioners, judges are also lawyers.”
Another lawyer aligned with the fact that judges may not have been carried along. He said: “Normally when NBA gives such order, judges have to be informed of the resolution of NEC.”
Asked if those who appeared in court will be penalised, he doubted if such action will take place. “You know there is lot of chaos all over the place, on the part of the judiciary, the bar, even the government, lots of lawlessness is going on. I don’t see anybody penalising anybody.”
The present of lawyers in court perhaps is a split of NBA or they support action of the federal government.
He said the assertion is not true.
“Certainly, one thing I can tell you from my experience and other lawyers in court today is not endorsement of the federal government. The government may think mischievously that lawyers have defied the NBA , certainly this is not. All the lawyers are unanimous that this government is lawless, even though lawyers have reservation for the judiciary and the NBA too.”