Lokoja – The President of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Malam Abubakar Mahmud, on Thursday called on the Military and Nigerians to protect the nation’s democracy by resisting calls to lure them into playing unconstitutional roles.
Mahmud made the appeal during the opening ceremony of the NBA National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Lokoja.
The NBA president noted the unfortunate suggestions in sections of 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.
“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 by some sections of the country, the NBA president said Nigerians would fare better together than in smaller enclaves and reaffirmed the commitment of the Bar to national unity.
Mahmud also urged 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.
Hos Gov. Yahaya Bello said tyranny could only thrive when the lawyers and judges collude, adding that the 17 successful cases he had from inception of his administration 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 is strong and of equals as no arm was inferior to the other.
However, the governor 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 were those he granted “amnesty” and their salaries were being paid.
On his part, the 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 endorsed demands by the four branches of the Bar in the state for the establishment of a division of the Appeal Court in Kogi.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Chairman of the Lokoja branch of the NBA, Mr Liman Salihu, said the NEC meeting was important and timely as it would afford them the opportunity to define the position and future of the association.
According to him, this is informed by 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”.