A new vista of bar activism was on Wednesday ushered into the country as the Section on Public Interest and Development Law(SPIDEL), one of the three major sections of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) elected a former Vice President of the association, Monday Onyekachi Ubani as its Chairman.
Ubani takes over from Paul Ananaba SAN, a Professor of law after a highly successful three day annual conference on Wednesday in Ibadan, Oyo State capital. Prior to the conference, SPIDEL had been moribund for years. But Prof Ananaba and his committee was not only able to revive the section, but hosted one of the most successful conferences of the NBA in recent times. The conference which showcased different discourse of national importance signified that the NBA is again ready to take its place in the defence of Nigerians in matters of public interest.
Ubani, a former chairman of the NBA Ikeja branch is well known for his crusade in matters that concerns the downtrodden and the oppressed in the country. The communique issued by SPIDEL and signed by Ubani and Prof Ananaba showed that the body of lawyers is ready to intervene by adding its weight and voice to the security challenges and other issues that are threatening to break the country. The back the Southern governors ban on open cattle grazing in all the southern states of the federation
“SPIDEL views with deep concern, the frequent bloodletting in the incessant clash of farmers and herdsmen and recognizes the need for an urgent intervention to stop this ugly situation. To this end, SPIDEL approves the ban on open grazing by some States of the Federation and calls on other States to adopt the ban by the institution of appropriate laws to prevent further clashes and ensure the preservation of lives”, it stated.
It further declared that the “cardinal duties of the State Governors are to protect lives and properties within their States. To this end, it is proper for State Governors to establish State Policing outfits like ‘Amotekun’ and ‘Ebube Agu’ for the protection of lives and properties of their citizens. SPIDEL supports the establishment of regional vigilantes by State Governors to assist the Nigerian Police protect the lives of all Nigerians”. It therefore urged the Federal government to champion the creation of state police as a way of reducing over-reliance on national security outfits for preservation of lives and property.
SPIDEL also made the following the following observations:
- The disconnect between a large segment of the legal profession and the ideals of public interest lawyering, owing to the obvious gaps in the legal education curriculum;
- The current federating structure of the Nigerian State is clearly unwieldy and the debilitating situation is clearly seen in the spate of security crises in the country.
- The lack of local laws and an administrative structure for the administration of stolen funds in a manner that ensures that the funds are not re-looted but redistributed in an equitable manner.
- That it is Constitutional and thus lawful for States Houses of Assemblies to make anti- Corruption laws and to establish State anti-corruption Commissions to fight the menace at the state level.
- That cases of disobedience to court orders are on the increase. This sad state of affairs must be stemmed as accountability in governance cannot be promoted if court judgments are not obeyed and the rule of law is consistently negated.
- The conference decries the growing spate of corruption in the nation and the attendant consequences on the common man.
“In the light of the observations above, the following resolutions were made:
- SPIDEL enjoins the government to make people oriented policies which are ultimately for the welfare and security of the people.
- SPIDEL expresses deep concern at the spate of insecurity in the nation and calls on the Federal Government to take urgent steps to ensure that the lives of citizens are protected.
- SPIDEL calls on all lawyers to view public interest lawyering as an avenue to enhance the relationship between the ordinary citizen and the judiciary and encourages all human rights activists to get involved in public interest lawyering irrespective of their area of practice.
- SPIDEL therefore submits that there is the need for the Federal Government to invest in and institutionalize ranching in the country.
- The Conference urges the Federal Government to champion the creation of state police as a way of reducing over-reliance on national security outfits for preservation of lives and property.
- SPIDEL calls for a constitutional review and restructuring of the country to ensure that each region is strengthened, security is ensured and all citizens have a sense of belonging. This will take away all feelings of marginalization that several regions are complaining about.
- That the provisions of the Constitution in providing for the financial autonomy of the different arms of government be upheld. To this end, SPIDEL calls on State Governors to enforce judicial autonomy in their States and ensure the financial independence of the judiciary and the legislature. This will ensure that the judiciary is poised to deliver justice to the poor and oppressed without fear or favour.
- The Conference commends the National Human Rights Commission and the various State Governments for the setting up of the various Panels of Inquiry to investigate the human rights abuses which led to the ENDSARS crisis. Every panel of inquiry set up by the Government of a State
or the Federal Government is urged to administer justice to the people without being subject to the influence of any external forces.
- SPIDEL calls on the government to recognise that violent Protests like the #End SARS Protest are not just about complaints against a particular police squad like SARS; but are ultimately about the absence of good governance. SPIDEL therefore calls on the government to formulate and implement people oriented policies that are always in the public interest.
- In relation to the provision of legal services for the indigent, SPIDEL commends the establishment of the Office of the Public Defender in Lagos State and calls on other States of the Federation to establish the same, to ensure that legal aid is available and accessible to all, especially the poor and vulnerable.
- SPIDEL decries the increasing spate of corruption by the political class, pointing out that corruption robs the citizenry of the basic amenities to ensure a stable and comfortable life. SPIDEL therefore urges the National Assembly to create guidelines on the Declaration of Assets of Public Officers and the adequate interpretation and administration of the same by the Judiciary.
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