Ebonyi Lawyers Begin Indefinite Boycott Of Govt Cases In Court

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*Protest non-payment of minimum wage, other
benefits

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Lawyers and law officers in the Ebonyi State Ministry of Justice
has begun an indefinite boycott of all government cases in
court.

image

According to them, the actions follow Governor David Umahi-led
administration inability and unwillingness to cater to the welfare
of the law officers in the state.

The lawyers under the aegis of Law Officers Association of
Nigeria (LOAN), Ebonyi Chapter through its chairman Barr. Ogbuinya
Ndubuisi made this known while addressing newsmen in Abakaliki.

Ogbuinya who is also the Principal State Counsel in the State
Ministry of Justice also noted that their contemporaries in Enugu,
Abia, Anambra and Imo States were being treated better than them in
terms of welfare packages.

He then appealed to the state government to look into the
welfare of law officers in the state, noting that lots of memos and
correspondences on the subject matter have been written and sent to
the State Government but have not yielded the desired result.

According to him, the boycott on government cases will continue
indefinitely until their requests are addressed holistically.

When visited Ebonyi State Judiciary today, it was observed that
the boycott crippled the activities there due to the absence of
state counsels to attend to cases as private practitioners,
litigants were sighted loitering around the court premises.

Also, the officers and men of the Nigeria Correctional Services
and awaiting trial inmates were found stranded.

State Counsels from the ministry were seen protesting over what
they described as gross and unwholesome neglect of their welfare by
the Ebonyi State Government.

Investigation revealed that they decided to boycott court
sittings in order to get the present administration to address
issues bordering on poor remuneration, non-funding of government
cases and government refusal to accommodate them in the payment of
the national minimum wage.

“The Law Officers have been doing their best to conduct
government cases to the best of their ability and won a lot of
cases.

“If you go to Enugu Correctional Centre, over 60% of inmates are
from conviction secured by Law Officers from the Ministry of
Justice, Ebonyi State but the problem is that we do this work with
our own resources.

“We virtually take care of everything that has to do with
prosecuting government matter ranging from paying official
witnesses to come to court and give witnesses, ranging from paying
transportation to different jurisdiction within the state to do
government cases even outside the jurisdiction.

“Most times, when you embark on this journey and come back and
write facts about the expenses, you don’t get anything from it but
the worst is that there is a document that harmonizes the condition
of service of Law Officers and that of Magistrate and Judiciary
that took effect from the first Executive Governor of the
state.

“That document emanated from the Attorney General of the
Federation, wherein our welfare is harmonized with that of the
Magistrate and it has been like that until two years before
Governor Martin Elechi left office. He approved N200,000 to the
Magistrate outside allowance, leaving us behind; we have written
several Memos to that effect all to no avail.

“The most recent is the 2020 Minimum Wage where every Civil
Servants got their stake but we all at the Ministry of Justice were
outrightly excluded, not even a kobo was added to us. We used to
have two (2) domestic servants but somewhere along the line, they
removed one (1) even the remaining one that survived it, it is not
worth the circular provided that we are being paid for.

“It may surprise you that in the entire state, we are only 30
lawyers covering all the Magistrate Courts, all the High Courts,
Industrial Courts, all the Federal High Courts, Court of Appeal and
so on; the workload is much but there is no commiserate
remuneration to that effect.”

All efforts to get the State Attorney General and Commissioner
for Justice, Barr. Cletus Ofoke and Permanent Secretary of the
Ministry, Barr. Albert Alo, to react to the development proved
abortive as none of them answered their calls or replied the text
messages sent to them.

*Protest non-payment of minimum wage, other
benefits

image

Lawyers and law officers in the Ebonyi State Ministry of Justice
has begun an indefinite boycott of all government cases in
court.

image

According to them, the actions follow Governor David Umahi-led
administration inability and unwillingness to cater to the welfare
of the law officers in the state.

The lawyers under the aegis of Law Officers Association of
Nigeria (LOAN), Ebonyi Chapter through its chairman Barr. Ogbuinya
Ndubuisi made this known while addressing newsmen in Abakaliki.

Ogbuinya who is also the Principal State Counsel in the State
Ministry of Justice also noted that their contemporaries in Enugu,
Abia, Anambra and Imo States were being treated better than them in
terms of welfare packages.

He then appealed to the state government to look into the
welfare of law officers in the state, noting that lots of memos and
correspondences on the subject matter have been written and sent to
the State Government but have not yielded the desired result.

According to him, the boycott on government cases will continue
indefinitely until their requests are addressed holistically.

When visited Ebonyi State Judiciary today, it was observed that
the boycott crippled the activities there due to the absence of
state counsels to attend to cases as private practitioners,
litigants were sighted loitering around the court premises.

Also, the officers and men of the Nigeria Correctional Services
and awaiting trial inmates were found stranded.

State Counsels from the ministry were seen protesting over what
they described as gross and unwholesome neglect of their welfare by
the Ebonyi State Government.

Investigation revealed that they decided to boycott court
sittings in order to get the present administration to address
issues bordering on poor remuneration, non-funding of government
cases and government refusal to accommodate them in the payment of
the national minimum wage.

“The Law Officers have been doing their best to conduct
government cases to the best of their ability and won a lot of
cases.

“If you go to Enugu Correctional Centre, over 60% of inmates are
from conviction secured by Law Officers from the Ministry of
Justice, Ebonyi State but the problem is that we do this work with
our own resources.

“We virtually take care of everything that has to do with
prosecuting government matter ranging from paying official
witnesses to come to court and give witnesses, ranging from paying
transportation to different jurisdiction within the state to do
government cases even outside the jurisdiction.

“Most times, when you embark on this journey and come back and
write facts about the expenses, you don’t get anything from it but
the worst is that there is a document that harmonizes the condition
of service of Law Officers and that of Magistrate and Judiciary
that took effect from the first Executive Governor of the
state.

“That document emanated from the Attorney General of the
Federation, wherein our welfare is harmonized with that of the
Magistrate and it has been like that until two years before
Governor Martin Elechi left office. He approved N200,000 to the
Magistrate outside allowance, leaving us behind; we have written
several Memos to that effect all to no avail.

“The most recent is the 2020 Minimum Wage where every Civil
Servants got their stake but we all at the Ministry of Justice were
outrightly excluded, not even a kobo was added to us. We used to
have two (2) domestic servants but somewhere along the line, they
removed one (1) even the remaining one that survived it, it is not
worth the circular provided that we are being paid for.

“It may surprise you that in the entire state, we are only 30
lawyers covering all the Magistrate Courts, all the High Courts,
Industrial Courts, all the Federal High Courts, Court of Appeal and
so on; the workload is much but there is no commiserate
remuneration to that effect.”

All efforts to get the State Attorney General and Commissioner
for Justice, Barr. Cletus Ofoke and Permanent Secretary of the
Ministry, Barr. Albert Alo, to react to the development proved
abortive as none of them answered their calls or replied the text
messages sent to them.

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