By: Wale Ibrahim, Lokoja
The National President of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Malam Abubakar Mahmud has called on the Military and Nigerians to safeguard the nation’s democracy by resisting calls to lure them into playing unconstitutional roles.
Mahmud made the call while speaking during the opening ceremony of the NBA National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Lokoja.
The NBA President explained that had been suggestions in the media of possible instigation for military intervention in governance of the country following statements credited to the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai.
“The NBA wishes to express its concern and condemn in strong terms, any of such moves from whatever quarters. Nigeria’s democracy and democratic institutions must not be imperiled by any undemocratic change of government”, He said.
Our country needs to assume its proper leadership in Africa and indeed amongst the comity of nations globally. The journey to democracy is often long and tedious.
“I urge however that we do not become complacent. We must continue to be vigilant in the defence of our democracy and democratic institutions”, He said.
On the agitation for secession from some sections of the country, the NBA National President said Nigerians would fare better together than in smaller enclaves and reaffirmed the commitment of the Bar to national unity.
Mahmud urged both Federal and State Governments to address in concerted and responsible manner, conflicts between herdsmen and farmers in many states as well as sectarian conflicts in Southern Kaduna which he said, was far from being over.
Also speaking, Chief Judge of the state, Justice Nasir Ajanah said there had been harmonious relationship between the Bar and Bench in the state to enhance proper administration of law and order.
Ajanah however regretted that in majority of states across the country the independence and financial autonomy of the Judiciary as enshrined in section 121(3) of the constitution were yet to be guaranteed.
He therefore, called for strict adherence to the provisions of the constitution and lent his voice to the call by the four branches of the Bar in the state for the establishment of a division of the Appeal Court in Kogi.
In his opening remarks, Governor Yahaya Bello said tyranny could only thrive when the lawyers and judges collude with it adding that the 17 cases he had from inception of his government had reinforced his trust in the Judiciary.
Bello said he had established a filial relationship with the Judiciary and the Legislature saying that the relationship was strong and of equals as no arm was inferior to the other.
The governor however, said he had paid salary to 95 per cent of the state workforce who were cleared after the screening exercise adding that the remaining five per cent where those he granted “Amnesty” and their salaries were being paid.
Earlier in his welcome address, chairman of the Lokoja branch of the NBA Mr Liman Salihu said, “This National Executive Committee meeting is very important and timely in the sense that it will define the position the position and or the future of the NBA.
This, he said was in view of the “recent but unfortunate happenings where some of our colleagues resort to acts that are capable of undermining the progress and development of our dear association and the entire legal profession.”