Reporter : AMECHI ODO
Trial of criminal and some civil cases has suffered a setback at Ebonyi State High Court and other six branches of its jurisdiction following court boycott embarked upon by Law Officers working under the State Ministry of Justice.
When Radio Nigeria visited the state High Court Abakaliki, it was observed that many cases were adjourned as no law officer represented the state government in courts.
A private legal practitioner, Mr. Ogbonnaya Aja, was at the State High Court Three to handle a case when he learnt that proceedings would not go on as a result of the boycott embarked upon by the Law officers.
A member of Legal Aid Council of Nigeria, Mr. Marcel Akamalue, also decried the development, pointing out that their clients would bear the brunt of the development if the boycott was not resolved urgently.
Investigations revealed that the Law officers, who are twenty-nine in number, embarked on the boycott after the expiration of seven day ultimatum issued to the State Government to look into what they described as unfavourable condition of service.
The Chairman of Law Officers Association of Nigeria, Mr. Ndubisi Ogbuinya, listed non implementation of the harmonisation of their salary and condition of service with that of the magistrates in the Judiciary, non funding of government cases and exclusion of Law officers from the new minimum wage as some of their demands.
When contacted on telephone, the State Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Cletus Ofoke, said he was out of town but the Special Assistant to the Governor on Labour Matters, Mrs. Jennifer Adibe, said she was not aware that the lawyers boycotted court.
Mrs. Adibe added that the state government never excluded any law officer from the new national minimum wage.