By Peter Duru
Markurdi â€” The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Benue State chapter has condemned the actions of the Benue State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development which stripped the Benue State chapter of Law Officersâ€™ Association of Nigeria (LOAN) of its registration as a union.
The NBA viewed the action of the Women Affairs and Social Development Ministry as dictatorial and aimed at muzzling membership of LOAN in its agitation for better condition of service in the state.
In a statement signed by the NBA Chairman, Barr Donatus Zuanah and made available to Vanguard, the association called on Ministry to immediately revalidate the Registration Certificate of LOAN to create a conducive atmosphere for negotiation with government over various nagging issues.
The NBA noted that the work-to-rule action embarked upon by the Benue State chapter of Law Officersâ€™ Association of Nigeria could have been avoided by government but for the way and manner the relevant ministries, Departments and agencies handled the issues raised by the members of the union within the 30-day ultimatum preceding the industrial action.
The NBA also, observed with regrets that though there were attempts made by Office of the Head of Service to reach out to the membersÂ for a discussion on the issues raised, same was however ill-advisedly jettisoned by the Ministry For Women Affairs and Social Development who acted with a mindset reminiscent of the era of military dictatorship.
While stating that the work-toâ€“rule action by the lawyers will have a heavy toll on cases involving government and especially criminal matters in which accused persons are awaiting trials or in custody, the NBA canvassed for the need for dialogue and sustained mutual engagement without intimidation or threats of any kind between the parties and key stakeholders in addressing the issues in dispute.
Vanguard recalls that lawyers in Benue State service last week down tools to protest poor remuneration and the insensitivity of government to their welfare and provision of better working environment for lawyers on the payroll of the state government.