Four branches of The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), in Akwa Ibom, have fumed on what they called the “Lackadaisical Attitude” of the State Governor and the State House of Assembly towards the implementation of Financial Autonomy for the State Judiciary.

It was disclosed in a statement Monday, jointly signed by the NBA branch chairmen of Uyo, Eket, Ikot Ekpene, and Oron, Elder Aniema Etuk, Gloria Etim, Esq, David Ekpo, Esq and Tokunbo Otoyo, Esq., respectively.

The chairmen noted that the attitude of the State Government towards resolving the Industrial Action embarked upon by Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) which has grounded judicial activities in the State.

Consequently, the branch Chairmen are therefore calling on members to come out en Mass for a peaceful protest to the Government House.

According to the statement, the essence of the protest is for NBA to restate its firm and resolute disposition in pressing home their demand for the State government to rise to the occasion and uphold and implement the Constitution.

Read the Statement in Full.

A PRESS STATEMENT JOINTLY ISSUED BY THE NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION, UYO, IKOT EKPENE, EKET AND ORON BRANCHES ON FRIDAY, 30TH APRIL, 2021

1. The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Uyo, Ikot Ekpene, Eket, and Oron Branches jointly condemn in strong terms the lackadaisical attitude of the Executive of the Akwa Ibom State Government and the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly towards the ongoing strike by members of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) calling for the Financial Autonomy of the Judiciary, which has led to the total lockdown of Courts and the collapse of the administration of Justice in the State.

2. It will be recalled that on Monday, the 19th day of April, 2021, the leadership and members of the four Branches of our noble Association in Akwa Ibom State, took to the streets of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State in answer to the clarion call by the National President of the NBA, Mr. Olumide Akpata, that members of the Association across the States of the federation should meet with the Governors of their various States and appeal to them to implement the constitutionally provided Financial Autonomy to the State Judiciary, which is a distinct arm of government.

3. The Attorney General of Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Uko Udom, SAN, intervened and received the protest letter of the Association for onward delivery to the Governor of the State, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, and informed us that the Governor was out of the State for national assignment, but however assured the four Branches of NBA that immediately the Governor returns to the State, he will meet with the Bar and address the ongoing agitation by JUSUN.

4. To the greatest chagrin of the NBA, two clear weeks after the letter was received and obviously handed to the Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, the Akwa Ibom State Government has not only failed, refused and neglected to address this burning issue, but has turned a deaf ear and blind eyes to it.

5. The Courtrooms across the State remain under lock and key, the wheel of Justice has deliberately ground to a halt by the irresponsive and unconstitutional act of both the executive and legislative arms of government in Akwa Ibom State, innocent Akwa Ibom citizens are unlawfully detained in various detention facilities across the State and cannot access justice due to the ongoing strike.

6. Consequent upon the above, and the need to rescue our dear State from total collapse, the leadership and members of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Uyo, Ikot Ekpene, Eket and Oron Branches shall stage a peaceful protest march to the Government House, Wellington Bassey Way, Uyo on Tuesday, the 4th day of May, 2021 by 9.00 a.m. prompt.

7. The need to embark on this peaceful protest again becomes necessary as it will register the NBA’s firm and resolute disposition in pressing home our demand for the State government to rise to the occasion and uphold and implement the Constitution.

8. The Governor of Akwa Ibom State should borrow a leaf from his brother Governors in Nigeria, by coming out to address the Bar and find a lasting solution to this agitation.

9. The Bar calls for the immediate implementation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL) of Akwa Ibom State, which the erstwhile Attorney-General of the State Uwemedimo Nwoko, SAN, informed stakeholders of the Criminal Justice sector of the State at the NBA-MAC ARTHUR organised one-day State Validation Public Forum on the implementation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act in Akwa Ibom State on 16th January 2018 that Governor Udom Emmanuel had assented to the Administration of Criminal Justice Bill, making it Law, on 21st March, 2017 .

10. Unfortunately, and very pathetically, three years after, suspects are being arraigned and tried under a repealed, and, therefore, non-existing law.

11. Given the worsening state of insecurity in the country, the Association urges the Government of Akwa Ibom State to take proactive steps in checking the spread of criminal activities by renegades and bandits, who have started unleashing violence in some parts of the State, as witnessed in Essien Udim, Ika, and most recently, Ikono Local Government Areas.

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