Lawyers in Anambra state on Monday staged a peaceful protest in Awka demanding financial autonomy and independence of the judiciary.
They carried some placards which read: “Gov. Willie 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”
They protested besides the entrance gate of the Government House, Awka, but blocked the gate when no one attended to them after about 30 minutes.
However, Secretary to the State Government, Professor Solo Chukwulobelu soon came to listen to them.
Mr Kingsley Awuka, Chairman, Committee of eight Nigeria Bar Association (NBA)chairmen in the state, Said they were at the government house to submit another copy of the letter previously sent to the governor which did not receive any response.
He said they decided to come with few selected members across the branches in consent of the bar leaders.
“This is as a result of the ugly experience in the last protest where we lost a member. The protest is not about the legal body nor lawyers, but the common man.
“We’re here today again because of the silence the governor gave to our last demonstration where we appealed to him that his APGA-led government is a product of judicial independent and bravery.
“We feel saddened that the APGA-led government is doing nothing in that regard.
“If the judiciary yielded to executive 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,” Awuka said.
He further said that for the past one month, courts in the state have been under lock, and the insecurity in the state has heightened.
“If any of suspects are arrested, where will they be taken and tried? The judicial arm of government is dead”, he said.
According to him, their aim is not to embarrass the government but to appeal to its consciences.
“it is 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,” Awuka said.
Responding, Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Chukwulobelu commended the lawyers for their peaceful conduct, assuring them of speedy delivery and intervention of the governor to their letter.
He said: “We’re working out an arrangement with the Judiciary on the Financial autonomy based on available resources.
“But judicial independence is a national issue and not state driven,” he added.