The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, on new year day lambast the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, over its inability to instill the rule of law and equally obeying it, alleging that the country has suffered degradation in multiple ways.
Paul Usoro, SAN, National President of the NBA in a new year statement cited what it described as brazen disobedience of court orders and judgments, as well as failure to build strong institutions that could stand up to arbitrariness and abuse of power as examples of how the rights of people were being trampled upon.
The statement read, “In our country, the rule of law suffers degradation in multiple ways. The rule of law is trampled upon when there is no access to justice or when such access is denied, not well defined or is constrained, stifled or impaired howsoever.
“The rule of law is threatened when the practice of law, whether at the Bar or on the Bench, is brought under siege by agencies of state through their actions and/or inactions.
“The rule of law suffers subjugation when the rights of our people are trampled upon, whether in terms of rights abuses or brazen disobedience of court orders and judgments.
“The rule of law is degraded when we, wittingly or unwittingly, fail to build strong institutions that can stand up to the arbitrariness and abuse of power.
“In 2019, we will continue to condemn and beam our searchlights on these undermining practices. Nigerian lawyers must stand as a united and independent Bar against these unwholesome and undemocratic practices. In carrying out this responsibility, we must not be cowed or intimidated howsoever”
The NBA maintained that the 2019 general elections would serve as a defining moment for the country, even as it vowed to blow the whistle on any perceived or identified plans to subvert the people’s will.
The body also stated that it would mobilise its members across the federation to get their Permanent Voters Cards, PVCs, ready, and not only participate in the 2019 general elections, but also ensure that the will of the electorate prevailed.
The statement further added, “2019 is a year of hope and renewal for us not only in the NBA but also in the Nigerian nation, underscoring that national hope and renewal is our role as the pre-eminent Nigerian professional association and the voice of the voiceless.
“Our role as the voice is even more pronounced and accentuated in this election year. This is the year that we would decide both at the national and states levels, how we wish to be governed and into whose hands we will entrust our affairs and lives.
“I emphasize the entrusting of our lives because that is literally what we would be doing at the polls this year. The decisions of our rulers directly impact and determine the course of our lives. It determines the quality of our lives, not only from an economic standpoint but also from our health, longevity and developmental standpoints.
“Our decisions at the polls will determine the quality of life for our youths and children from an educational prism as well as from the perspectives of employment and self-development opportunities.
“The quality of rulers that we will vote into power this year will determine whether we move from a perennially consumption economy into a productive and hopefully an industrialised economy; it would determine whether we would, in our lifetimes, ever be assured of such basic necessities as pervasive energy supply and provision of potable water and primary health care for our citizens.
“The elections of 2019 should and must, therefore, serve as a defining moment for our country. In fulfilling these mandates, we have civic responsibility, as lawyers, to cast our votes and I am hoping that we all have our PVCs ready and available for that all-important assignment.
“Beyond that, as an association of lawyers, we have additional roles to play in assisting to ensure that the will of our people is not subverted and that the votes of our people count.
“These include participation in voter education, consultation with relevant stakeholders to ensure free, fair and violence-free elections, monitoring the electoral processes and, not least, blowing the whistle on perceived or identified plans to subvert the people’s will.
“Voter education is particularly critical. Nigerians need to be encouraged not to mortgage their future on the altar of immediate and ephemeral gratifications.
“We need to understand that our lives and the lives of our children and future generations are at stake in these elections and we must therefore vote our convictions.
“In the succeeding days, we would unfurl the concrete steps that the NBA would take, in a non-partisan manner, to contribute to the success of the 2019 elections.
“In all of these, we must not lose sight of our core responsibility and obligation to promote, protect and uphold the rule of law in our land”.