By Romanus Okoye
The first plenary session of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Lagos Branch, Law Week began yesterday, at the Muson Centre Onikan, Lagos, with resource persons decrying the level of insecurity and other matters in Nigeria.
Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, who spoke first at the plenary, bemoaned the deplorable state of security situation in the country.
She condemned the ban on Twitter by the Federal Government and raised pertinent questions as to why such a ban should become the “lot” of thousands of Nigerians who use the social media handle.
She said: “This ban arose from a personal squabble between the President and Twitter.”
She further quizzed why Nigerians should be brought in to bear the hardship arising from such fallout. She said that following the ban, which is considered rather autocratic, she and other members of civil society groups had instituted an action in court against the Nigerian Government, challenging the unlawful ban.
Ezekwesili said Nigeria now requires a national conversation. She, therefore, urged the NBA to take the lead and champion the crusade on the rights and liberties of the citizenry.
“What are we doing in the NBA, preserving ourselves? Nigeria is in trouble. A National conversation is needed. So, let us not be cowards,” she said.
Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, who spoke via zoom, expressed concerns over the rising wave of insecurity in the country. He made references to the ongoing trial of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, and alleged that some legal representatives of Kanu were not allowed access into the courtroom. He described this as inimical to democracy while suing for redress.
In his remark, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Femi Falana, referred to the recent killings on October 20, 2020, at the Lekki toll gate, following the #Endsars protest. He noted that in spite of the killing of innocent Nigerians by armed security agencies, the cases were almost treated with kid gloves.
He noted that the court remains the last hope of the common man and all hands must be on deck to protect its sanctity. He recalled an episode when a former chairman of the NBA, Ikorodu Branch, was suspended for canvassing that the right process be adopted for lawyers to accompany magistrates to detention centres, to ensure that suspects were not illegally detained.
“Our lawyers and judges, if they are ready to save the Nigerian people from oppression, have the powers to do so, and must not allow negative powers to stop the move,” he said
While responding to the question on how fundamental rights can be upheld, Prof. Akin Oyebode expressed regrets that the nation was fast going into decay.
“No government can be so powerful to ignore the international community,” he said.