Lawyers under the aegis of the Nigeria Bar Association, Ilesa branch, on Monday picketed the Osun State High Court in Ilesa to protest against the “astronomic increase” in fees charged by the state government for filing divorce and other suits.
The lawyers, numbering about 50 and dressed in dark suits, gathered at the main entrance of the court as early as 7.45am to protest against what they called outrageous increase, adding that such would price justice out of the reach of the common man.
The lawyers accused Governor Rauf Aregbesola of usurping the power of the Chief Judge of the state by unilaterally fixing the new fees.
The lawyers prevented judges and magistrates from entering the premises of the court.
The Chairman, NBA, Ilesha branch, Mr. Ebenezer Ogunfunminiyi, said the association decided to protest against the increment because of its effect on the people.
He said, “We have vowed to challenge the illegal fee at the appropriate court. It is astonishing that the governor, by a circular, increased filing fee of cases relating to matrimonial matters, whereas matrimonial matters are governed by the Federal Act and cases under the Matrimonial Causes Act are sui generis.
“The NBA considers this a gross violation of the constitution and utral vires of the powers of the governor. Section 52 of the High Court Law of Osun State gave powers to the Chief Judge to fix the fees payable for filing subject to approval of the governor; but in this case, the governor usurped the powers vested in the CJ. The NBA laments the moribund and dilapidated state of our courts and the non-payment of salaries of judicial officers appropriately.”
He said lawyers in the Ilesa division would thenceforth boycott courts until the increment he described as illegal was reversed.
A former secretary of the NBA, Ilesha branch, Mr. Olayinka Sokoya, told our correspondent that the increment might cause disturbance of peace because some people would resort to self-help if they could not get justice.
Sokoya said most courts in the state were in a deplorable condition while judiciary workers were not adequately paid, adding that the NBA would use every legal means to fight the increment.
The spokesman for the governor, Semiu Okanlawon, could not be reached as his phone did not connect.