Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ibadan branch, says lawyers will boycott the courts if the Pre-Action Protocol Rule, contained in Oyo State High Court Civil Procedure Rule, 2022, is not suspended.
Chairman of the association, Mrs Folasade Aladeniyi, issued the threat at a news briefing on Tuesday in Ibadan.
According to her, the rule is limiting and hindering the constitutional rights of litigants and legal practitioners’ access to the court to seek legal redress.
The News Agency Of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the rules, which include Practice Directions on Pre-action Protocol Specific Claim, review of filing fees and other administrative fees payable to the state judiciary, were established by a former Chief Judge, Justice Munta Abimbola, in 2022.
She said that after NBA’s general meeting on Nov. 4, members resolved that a seven-day notice be given to the judiciary to suspend and/or withdraw the pre-action protocol rule.
The NBA chairman warned that lawyers would engage in total boycott of all the courts in the state if the rule was not suspended.
According to her, the notice issued on Nov. 6 and will lapse on Nov. 13.
“We hereby give the notice as resolved by the entire Bar.
“The reason for the Bar’s resolution is aptly captured in the fact that the existence of the said pre-action protocol now limits and hinders the constitutional rights of the litigants and the legal practitioners to access the court to seek legal redress.
“We wish to place it on record that the Bar also resolved at the said November monthly general meeting that the Oyo State judiciary should, as a matter of urgency, consider a downward review of the prohibitive and exorbitant filing fees and other administrative charges enshrined in the new Oyo State High Court Civil Procedure Rules 2022, payable by courts’ users.
“Also, the recent increment in the fees for commissioning an affidavit on the new e-affidavit platform put in place by the Oyo State judiciary which was discovered to have been recently increased from N1,100 to N2,500 be reviewed downward.
“It is in the light of the foregoing that we are of the firm view that your lordship would consider and give effect to the Bar’s demands, as contained in this notice.
“This is to prevent avoidable occurrence of courts’ boycott and other lawful means to press home the Bar’s demands, if Oyo State judiciary fails to accede to the yearnings and demands of Bar,” she said.
Aladeniyi also urged the state government to provide favourable working conditions for the judiciary to enable it perform its duties effectively.
“We need more judges; we should have up to 33 but now, we have only 20; this makes the judges to be over-laboured.
“Also, the state’s Ministry of Justice is under-funded; lawyers are not well paid while the court environment is dilapidated.
“Oyo State judiciary has really been neglected. Recently, one of our courts almost collapsed on the judges; no mobility and good infrastructure for lawyers.
“Even the magistrates don’t have cars and adequate working tools.
“So we are using this medium to call on the state government to urgently look into our plights,” she said.