By Romanus Okoye, Lagos
The Public Interest and Development Law Section of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA-SPIDEL) has called on state governments to stop the ban on open grazing, establish state policing outfits and uphold the financial autonomy of the judiciary.
SPIDEL, which is the third section established by the Nigerian Bar Association, while enjoining the government to make people oriented policies which are ultimately for the welfare and security of the people, expressed deep concern at the spate of insecurity in the country and called on the federal government to take urgent steps to ensure that the lives of citizens are protected.
In a communiqué issued at the end of its three-day conference help at Ibadan, NBA-SPIDEL called on all lawyers to view public interest lawyering as an avenue to enhance the relationship between the ordinary citizen and the judiciary and encouraged all human rights activists to get involved in public interest lawyering irrespective of their area of practice.
NBA-SPIDEL, in the communiqué signed by Prof Paul Ananaba, SAN, SPIDEL chairman and Monday Ubani, Conference Chairman, viewed with deep concern the frequent bloodletting in the incessant clash of farmers and herdsmen and recognised the need for an urgent intervention to stop the ugly situation. To this end, SPIDEL approved 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.
Other parts of the statement read:
‘SPIDEL therefore submits that there is the need for the Federal Government to invest in and institutionalize ranching in the country. The cardinal duties of the state governors are to protect lives and property 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 property of their citizens. SPIDEL supports the establishment of regional vigilantes to assist the Nigerian Police protect the lives of all Nigerians.
‘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 marginalisation 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 #EndSARS 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 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 same, to ensure that legal aid is available and accessible to all especially the poor and vulnerable.’