Lawyers in Enugu North Senatorial District of Enugu State on Tuesday protested continuous online sitting of High Court judges in the district for the past two years from the state capital..
The lawyers had gathered in Nsukka High Courts and Obollo-Afor as early as 7:30am in their numbers, blocked the road leading to the court with their vehicles, while chanting solidarity songs.
Addressing newsmen during the protest, Mr. Sonny Okoro, Chairman, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Nsukka Branch flanked by Mr Desmond Ezema, NBA Chairman of Obollo-Afor branch and other Lawyers.
Okoro said that they resorted to peaceful protest to let Enugu State Government and the general public know that normal court system was not working in Enugu North Senatorial District for over two years.
He explained that, for the past two years high Court judges in the district have claimed that, insecurity do not allow them for physical appearance in courts
“For the past two years, high Court judges have not been appearing physically in courts in Nsukka zone but resort to visual sitting from Enugu State capital.
“We have no problem with visual proceedings of the court because it is recognised by law, but our problems is that High Courts in the district have no visual facilities.
“That is why most time the judges use the court clerk’s mobile phone or one old computer system as visual facility to connect Nsukka court and the judge who is staying in Enugu.
The NBA Chairman noted that, the same judges who alleged their reason for not appearing physically in courts was because of insecurity along Enugu-Ugwogonike-Opi Nsukka Road, now direct lawyers to bring their litigants and witnesses to Enugu on the apartment the judge rented to serve as court.
“Are lawyers, litigants and witnesses immuned from the insecurity in the Enugu to Nsukka road which the judges are avoiding.
“This present situation has prolonged cases and denied people access to justice as well as making litigants to incur additional cost in traveling from Nsukka to Enugu in order to hear their cases.
“We are surprised that, judges are citing insecurity on the Enugu to Nsukka road when other residents of Enugu State are using the same road on daily basis.
“We know Gov Peter Mbah beefed up security on that road by deploying armored tanks and many security check points on that road,” he said.
Speak further, Okoro explained that the NBA had written several letters to some judiciary stakeholders in the state especially the Chief Judge of Enugu State, Hon Justice Raymond Ozoemena to restore normalcy in High Courts in the district but all to no avail.
“NBA have written so many letters to this effect to Enugu Chief Judge, and in our last latter to him on December 2023 we stated that, Lawyers will will resort to protest if by January 2024 the situation did not improve.
“We urge Enugu State government to intervene by ensuring normal court proceedings resumes in High Courts in Enugu North Senatorial District.
“If after this protest judges did not resume physical court sitting, lawyers in the district, will start boycotting courts proceedings,” he said.
Also speaking, Mr. Desmond Ezema, Chairman NBA Obollo-Afor branch confirmed said that, lawyers and litigants in the district have been facing difficulties for the past two years due to the non-physical appearance of High Court judges
Ezema, appealed to judiciary stakeholders and Enugu State Government to intervene so as to restore normal court activities in the district.
Our correspondent gathered that, the protest of lawyers happened simultaneously in High Courts in Nsukka and High Courts in Obollo-Afor