Hundreds of lawyers from the five branches of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) operating in Edo state were Monday barred from entering Edo state government house by security operatives to submit their letter to Governor Godwin Obaseki calling for financial autonomy for the judiciary.
The members led by the Chairman Benin branch of NBA, Pius Oiwoh were drawn from Igarra, Auchi, Uromi and Ekpoma branches of the NMA.
After waiting for over one hour, the lawyers matched to Edo State Council Secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists where Oiwoh told journalists that their visit to government house was on the directive of the national president of the NBA, Olumide Akpata who incidentally is from Edo state that they should present their letter of appeal to the governor to grant financial autonomy to the judiciary.
He said “We went there not on a protest, we were there on the directive of the NBA national leadership, but they told us that for security reasons we cannot enter government house that all the principal officers in government house were not around.
“I do not want to believe that His Excellency directed what they did to us, however, after staying for over one hour, we decided to pull out of the place but a reassurance that by Monday next week, we will repeat the visit because that is the directive from the national leadership of the NBA that we continuously visit government house with this letter of appeal that the Constitution should be complied with.
“You will recall that President Muhammadu Buhari in May 2020 issued the Executive Order 10 mandating the Accountant General of the federation to commence deduction from source, the funds accruing to the state judiciaries in the Consolidated Revenue Funds of the states and transfer same to the relevant heads of courts in line with the dictates of the Constitution.
“We are very eager to see that the judiciary enjoys financial autonomy and once the judiciary enjoys financial autonomy, there will also be judicial independence” he said.
In his response, chairman of the NUJ, Sir Roland Osakwe commended the efforts of the lawyers for the match adding that members of the fourth estate realm supports the move for financial autonomy for the judiciary.