From Tony Osauzo, Benin
Members of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) in Edo State were prevented from entering the state Government House on Monday to submit a petition to Governor Godwin Obaseki calling for financial autonomy for the judiciary.
The lawyers drawn from Benin, Igarra, Auchi, Uromi and Ekpoma branches the of the state NBA were led in the visit to Government House by the Chairman of the Benin branch, Mr Pius Oiwoh.
The lawyers who waited for over an hour without being attended to, later marched to the Edo State Council Secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), where Oiwoh told reporters that their visit to Government House was based on a directive by NBA National President Olumide Akpata to present their letter of appeal to the governor to grant financial autonomy to the judiciary.
‘We went there not on a protest,’ Oiwoh said. ‘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 with 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,’ Oiwoh said.
Responding, NUJ Chairman Sir Roland Osakwe commended the efforts of the lawyers for the match and explained that members of the Fourth Estate supports the move for financial autonomy for the judiciary.