Court Boycott: Lagos Judge Resists NBA’s Attempt to Disrupt Proceedings

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Justice Sherifat Solebo of a Lagos State Special Offences Court in Ikeja on Wednesday objected to an attempt to disrupt proceedings in her courtroom by a task force of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Ikeja Branch.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mr Dele Oloke, NBA Chairman, Ikeja Branch, had at 10.17a.m., led the task force to stop proceedings in Solebo’s courtroom in an attempt to enforce court boycott directive by the NBA.

“I will not entertain any interruption. We know the rules of court; Mr Oloke, be properly guided.

“The National Judicial Council (NJC) has not directed that judges should not sit; the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria has not shut the door.

“I am still in charge of this court, Mr Oloke; what you are doing is contemptuous,” the judge warned.

Following the judge’s outburst, the chairman left the court after instructing lawyers in the courtroom to obey the boycott directive.

Speaking to NAN later, Oloke frowned at lawyers’ flouting of the directive.

He said that the court boycott should be obeyed by every responsible lawyer.

He said: “I was at the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the NBA under its President, Mr Paul Usoro, and we resolved that we should embark on a two-day symbolic boycott of courts.

“Every responsible lawyer should abide by it.

“It is playing to the gallery to say that your clients are important; we also have clients. When systems collapse, everybody will be blamed.

“When we abandon our work to protect the institution we belong to, and some lawyers refuse to cooperate with us, we will do something about it, I can assure you.”

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NAN reports that some other judges at the Ikeja High Court Complex also sat in spite of the boycott directive.

At 9.56a.m., the NBA task force was unable to stop proceedings in the courtroom of Justice Sururat Soladoye of an Ikeja Domestic Violence and Sexual Offences Court – within the Ikeja High Court Complex.

The judge was about to rise when the team stormed her courtroom.

Proceedings in the courtroom of Justice Mojisola Dada of a Special Offences Court – also within the complex – could also not be disrupted at 10.42a.m. by Oloke’s team.

The judge was delivering a judgment at the time and had to finish it.

The NBA had at its NEC meeting on Monday resolved to embark on boycott of courts on Jan. 29 and Jan. 30. to protest the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria , Walter Onnoghen.

NAN reports that Onnoghen was suspended on Jan. 25, following an allegation of non-declaration of assets.

He was charged before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) on Jan. 14, on six-count charge.

President Muhammadu Buhari suspended Onnoghen following an order by the CCT. He appointed Justice Tanko Mohammed as the Acting CJN.

Many judges at the court complex equally adjudicated over cases on Tuesday from when the boycott directive took effect.

Activities at the court complex were reduced, but many judges sat.

Justices Mojisola Dada, Oluwatoyin Taiwo and Olusola Williams of the Ikeja Special Offences Court adjudicated over cases, while lawyers and litigants were seated in Justice Sherifat Solebo’s courtroom as at 10.50a.m., awaiting the judge’s arrival.

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At the Domestic Violence and Sexual Offences Court, Justice Sururat Soladoye began sitting at 9.00a.m. and was still adjudicating matters as at 11.15a.m.

In Justice Sybil Nwaka’s courtroom, lawyers and litigants were awaiting her arrival.

At the Ikeja High Court, Justice Hakeem Oshodi presided over proceedings in his courtroom which was half filled with lawyers and litigants.

Justices Obafemi Adamson, Raliatu Adebiyi and Josephine Oyefeso sat briefly in their courtrooms.

(NAN)

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