Dele Oloke, the Chairman of the Ikeja Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), says Nigeria’s legal system faces uncertain future due to social changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) ahead of the May 1 Worker’s Day’ celebration, Oloke alleged that plans regarding the management of the COVID-19 pandemic did not put the legal profession into consideration.
“The government of Lagos State and the Federal Government have been discussing about the organised private sector and how civil servants will go back to their offices.
“Nothing has been said about the resumption of the Nigerian court system which has been put in jeopardy due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Faced with this problem, the judiciary in Lagos State is trying to bring about technology-oriented court sessions, but this is constructed with a lot of impossibilities,” he said.
He said that poor electricity supply would be the first obstacle to the operation of technology-based court sessions.
“Second, the courts are in tatters and there are so many factors inhibiting the possibility of a proper court session being organised.
“We were even informed that only time-bound fundamental rights cases will be attended to.
“The issue is: If courts continue to operate at this level, where is their economic dependence?” he asked.
The chairman claimed that the governments had yet to provide palliatives to lawyers whose earnings had been adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
He, however, urged lawyers not to relent in the face of their recent loss of earnings and financial difficulties but speak with “one voice”.
“No palliatives have come to the NBA which members run into thousands across Nigeria. No one is immune to hunger if the court does not work
“As we mark Labour Day, Nigerian lawyers must speak with one voice.
“We are in a big mess because no one wants to die of the pandemic and, at the same time, no one wants to die of starvation.
“Lawyers must not despair during these times and I am urging the Nigerian Government that in everything it does, it should remember the judiciary and the court system,” he said.
According to the chairman, lawyers are central to the survival of Nigeria as a nation.
“Social upheaval is controlled with the instrumentality of the law and society cannot live without laws.
The consequences of relegating the courts will be enormous in times of social disorder,” Oloke said. (NAN)
– Apr. 30, 2020 @ 16:49 GMT |