Suspend Pre-action Protocol in the High Court Rules – NBA Ibadan Branch issues 7 Days Notice to Oyo State Judiciary

...Wants Review of Filing Fees

The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Ibadan Branch has asked the Oyo State Judiciary to review the filing fees and other administrative fee payable in the state.




 

The branch made this call in a letter dated 4th November, 2023 and signed by Mrs. Folasade Aladeniyi and Olakunle Akintola, Esq., Chairman and Secretary respectively, demanding a total suspension or withdrawal of the provision of pre action protocol in Order 3 of the new Civil Rules.


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According to the letter addressed to the Honourable Chief Judge, Hon. Justice Iyabo Subulade Yerima, a seven days notice was giving for the state to do the needful.

The letter titled “Need to Suspend and/or Withdraw the Pre-action Protocol as Contained in Order 3 of Oyo State High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2022. And Practice Directions on Pre-action, Protocol Specific Claim, Review of Filing Fees and Other Adminsitrative Fees Payable to the Oyo State Judiciary.” reads in part:

“On behalf of the Executive Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association, Ibadan Branch. we humbly appreciate your Lordship for enhancing the cordial and harmonious relationship between the Bar and the Oyo State Judiciary since your Lordship assumed office as the Chief Judge of Oyo State.

“My Lord Sir, we humbly write to bring it to your attention that, at the November Monthly General Meeting of the Nigerian Bar Association, Ibadan Branch held on 4th November. 2023 at the Aare Afe Babalola Bar Centre, lyaganku, Ibadan, the report of the Bar-Bench Forum meeting held with the leadership of the Oyo State Judiciary on the 31st day of October 2023 was considered by the General Meetng the highest decision making body of the Branch, and thereafter members of the Bar unanimously resolved that a Seven (7) Days’ Notice be given to the Judiciary to suspend and /or withdraw the Pre-Action Protocol provisions as Contained in Order 3 of the Oyo State High Court (Civil Procedure) Rutes 2022, and the Practice Direction on Pre-Action Protocol (Specific Claim). It was also resolved that if the Judiciary fails to suspend and /or withdraw the Pre-Action Protocol, the Bar will engage in total boycott of all the courts in Oyo State.

“We hereby give the notice as resolved by the entire Bar. The reason for the Bar’s resolution is aptly captured in the fact that, the existence of the said Pre-Action Protocol now limits and hinders the Constitutional Right of the litigants and the Legal Practitioners to access the Court to seek legal redress.

“We wish to place it on record that, the Bar also resolved at the said November monthly general meeting that the Oyo State Judiciary should as a matter of urgency consider a downward review of the prohibitive and exorbitant filing fees and other administrative charges enshrined in the new Oyo State High Court Civil Procedure Rules 2022 payable by courts’ users. Also, the recent increment in the fees for commissioning an Affidavit on the new E-Affidavit Platform put in place by the Oyo State Judiciary which was discovered to have been recently increased from NI,000 One Thousand, One Hundred Naira) to N2,500(Two Thousand, Five Hundred Naira) be reviewed downward.

“It is in light of the foregoing that we are of the firm view that your Lordship would consider and give effect to the Bar’s demands as contained in this Notice to prevent an avoidable occurrence of courts’ boycott and other lawful means to press home the Bar’s demands if the Oyo State Judiciary fails to accede to the yearnings and demands of the Bar.”

Read the full Communique below

THE COMMUNIQUE ISSUED BY THE NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION, IBADAN BRANCH, AT THE END OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE WHICH WAS HELD ON THE 7TH DAY OF NOVEMBER 2023 AT THE AARE AFE BABALOLA BAR CENTRE, IYAGANKU, IBADAN.

INTRODUCTION:

Consequent upon the resolution reached at the Monthly General Meeting of NBA, Ibadan Branch which held on 4th November, 2023, at the Aare Afe Babalola Bar Centre, Iyaganku G.R.A., Ibadan, the Executive Committee of the Bar Communicated the Bar’s resolution to the Oyo State Judiciary vide a letter dated 4th November, 2023 and received by the Oyo State Judiciary on 6th November, 2023 demanding the total withdrawal and or suspension of the Pre-Action Protocols as contained in the Oyo State High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2022 among other requests of the Bar.

Further to the resolution of the Bar, that a Press Conference be held in addition to the letter issued on the Oyo State Judiciary, the Executive Committee of NBA, Ibadan Branch held a press Conference on 7th November, 2023, wherein the following issues were raised:

  1. DEMAND FOR TOTAL WITHDRAWAL AND/ OR SUSPENSION OF THE PRE-ACTION PROTOCOLS IN THE OYO STATE HIGH COURT (CIVIL PROCEDURE) RULES 2022.

The Bar condemned in its entirety the obnoxious provisions of Order 3 of the Oyo State High Court Civil Procedure Rules 2022 which has hindered access to Court which is the constitutional right of every citizen

  1. HIGH COST OF FILING FEES AT THE HIGH COURT OF OYO STATE BROUGHT ABOUT BY THE NEW OYO STATE HIGH COURT CIVIL PROCEDURE RULES 2022.

The Bar condemned the skyrocketed increment of the costs of filing fees and other Administrative charges by the Oyo State Judiciary which have inhibited and hindered the right of litigants and other court users from accessing the Courts, and therefore violates the fundamental and constitutional right of the citizens.

  1. REMOVAL OF LAWYERS FROM E- AFFIDAVIT PLATFORM AND UNNECESSARY INCREMENT ON FEES PAYABLE BY LAWYERS FOR COMMISSIONING AFFIDAVIT.

The Bar condemned the deliberate and unlawful removal of lawyers from E-Affidavit platform put in place by the Oyo State Judiciary, and the unnecessary increment on fees payable by Court users for commissioning E-Affidavit, poor quality and restrictions in the paragraphs of Affidavit that can be filed on the E- Affidavit platform.

  1. THE UNNECESSASRY DELAY IN APPOINTMENT OF JUDGES.

The Ibadan Bar condemned the neglect of the Judiciary by Oyo State Government. The Bar recalled that the exercise for the appointment of additional judges in Oyo State which commenced since 2021 is yet to be completed by the State Government inability to provide necessary facilities which are pre-conditions required by the National Judicial Council (NJC).

In the same vein, the Bar noted that the Oyo State Judiciary which by law should have not less than Thirty(30) Judges now has just Twenty-one (21) Judges on the Oyo State Bench. Therefore, The shortage of Judges in Oyo State has caused the slow pace of adjudicatory processes in Oyo State.

The Bar called on the Oyo State Government to wake up to its responsibilities, and ensure necessary pre- conditions like provisions of official vehicles and accommodation for the Judges are put in place for the approval of the appointment of Judges by the National Judicial Council.

5. STATE OF THE OYO STATE JUDICIARY:

The Bar aslo raised a myriad of issues affecting the entire Oyo State Justice sector. The Bar recollected that Oyo State Judiciary which used to be the pride of the Nation has depreciated in all facets,and therefore called on the Executive Governor of Oyo State, Engr. Seyi Makinde FNSE to look into it and give priority to its needs. Notably amongst the problems highlighted include under- funding of the Judiciary, Non payment of leave and medical allowances of Judges, neglect of the Ministry of Justice and the poor welfare package and working conditions of the Magistrates in Oyo State.

CONCLUSION:

The Executive Committee of NBA, Ibadan Branch reiterates her commitment to the promotion of the Rule of law and her readiness to ensure quick access to Justice. The Bar maintained the resolution of her Monthly General Meeting of 4th November 2023, that failure by the Chief Judge of Oyo State, Hon. Justice I.S. Yerima to suspend or withdraw the Pre-Action Protocols on or before the expiration of the Seven (7) days’ Notice earlier given to the Judiciary on the 6th day of November 2023 shall resort to total boycott of all the Courts in Oyo State from Monday, 13th November, 2023.

Dated this 7th November, 2023.

Folasade Aladeniyi Mrs.

Chairman

Olakunle Akintola, Esq.

Secretary

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