Lawyers lock out chief judge in Osun State over hike in filing fees
Members of the Nigerian Bar Association in Osun State continued their resistance against the hike in filing fees on Thursday, going ahead to lock up the entrance into the Osun State High Court.
The Chief Judge of the state, Adepele Ojo, who arrived at the court at about 11 a.m., was caught in the fray, as the protesters refused to allow her vehicle into the premises.
Although the Chief Judge, who was visibly angry, ordered the lawyers to open the gate so she could enter, they simply ignored her directive and kept the gates locked.
The lawyers commenced the protest on Monday in Ilesa and Tuesday in Osogbo with the boycott of the courts. They are agitating against the hike in the filing fees by the Osun State Government.
The state government had increased writ of summons from N4, 000 to N40, 000 while a divorce petition has also jumped from N3, 000 to N25, 000, just as fees for Oaths was increased from N200 to N1000.
The lawyers accused the state government of commercialising justice and denying the masses access to justice by the hike in the filing fees.
Justice Ojo, however, advised the lawyers to address their grievances through appropriate mechanism, instead of harassing the judicial officers.
She also urged the protesters to allow workers who were already within the court premises before the gate was locked to go out.
The Chief Registrar of the High Court, Lawrence Arojo, earlier pleaded with the lawyers not to vent their anger on the Chief Judge, noting that she is a judicial officer seeking the welfare of the other judicial workers.
He emphasised that the lawyers should have explored other mechanisms before resorting to the closure of the court’s gates.
The NBA in the state had expressed concerns that the exorbitant fees in Osun would make it difficult for ordinary people to pursue justice.
The members had advanced the argument that people could take laws into their hands if they find it difficult to approach the court due to high cost of filing cases.
The Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, Osogbo branch, Asafa Sanusi, while speaking with journalists during the protest urged the state government to reverse the hike by prevailing on the state’s judiciary.
The Permanent Secretary, Osun State Ministry of Justice, Biola Adewumi, has assured that the matter would soon be resolved in the best interest of justice.