Ondo lawyers protest new circular on bail, boycott courts

By IAfrica
In Nigeria
Jun 11th, 2014

Lawyers in Ondo State today trooped out in protest against a new circular issued by the Chief registrar of the Ondo state High Court.

The circular with reference No CROD/0012/01//61 directed all Magistrates and Judges of High Courts to make production of tax clearance as a pre- condition for sureties standing bail for accused persons before any Court in the state.

The aggrieved lawyers stormed the High Court Premises as early as 8.00 a.m, carrying placards with various inscriptions such as “Bail: A constitutional right, not a taxable right, Mimiko, don’t kill Ondo State Judiciary” and” Chief Judge, judiciary can not be used as a fraud institution among others”.

With this development, it was learnt that many suspects facing trial for simple Criminal bailable offences and could not afford N75,000 for tax clearance have been denied bail by Courts under Ondo state Judiciary and remanded in Prison custody.

Already, it was learnt that there is increase in number of awaiting trial suspects posing serious accommodation challenges to Olokuta Prison in Akure.

The leadership of NBA, Akure branch led by its Chairman Lawrence Dare met with the Chief Judge(CJ), Justice Olaseinde kumuyi to request for reversal of the said directive.

Dare said the order has already limited the exercise of discretion by Trial Court to grant bail, thereby infringing on the liberty of citizens, especially suspect that could not afford the minimum tax imposed by Government.

He said bail could not be used as a source of revenue to the government,stressing that Judiciary is not a tax collector organization.

His words “it is unconstitutional, null and void for a Chief Judge to impose conditions of bail to his learned brother judges,it is now an avenue for ruling political party to cause their opponents to be arrested and detained on frivolous charges majorly during elections.itis unfortunate that Ondo has now turned to Police State”

However, the Chief Judge insisted that he would not reverse the circular, stressing that he had given the directive and it is now left with the judges and magistrates to comply with it.

Justice Kumuyi said any one of them who disregard the order would be penalized.

Reacting to this development, one of the lawyers, Titiloye Charles frowned at the attempt by the state Judiciary to amend and abridge through circular the fundamental human rights of citizens.

The former Akure NBA Secretary said “we are now at a loss that our Court is no longer in pursuit of justice but revenue generation for the executive arm even to the extent of undermining the constitution they swore to protect”.

Titiloye called on the Chief Judge to withdraw the circular in order to protect the integrity and independence of Courts in Ondo state.

The lawyers said the boycott of the Court continues today.

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