By Henry Umoru
As the plenary session of the conference got underway yesterday, religion, that divisive and contentious matter that has for long pitched Nigerians against one another came to the fore.
The assistant secretary admin, Prof. Mahmud Yakubu had told the delegates that the secretariat was presently making arrangements for Muslim delegates to have their daily prayers.
His assertion was quickly followed by a request by Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) who demanded for a similar provision for Christians who he noted were presently observing the period of lent.
Responding, the Conference Secretary, Mrs. Valerie Azinge however promised that the Secretariat would discuss with the management of National Judicial Institute, NJI as she quickly added that Christians should pray at home as there was no provision for that yet.
Religious tension was further stoked after Pastor Tunde Bakare, himself a former Muslim, questioned the propriety of the conference chairman, Justice Idris Kutigi interjecting his statements with Arabic Islamic incantations.
Bakare, confessed that the Chairman, had confused him twice since the conference commenced.
First was on Monday and the second was yesterday as he advocated for the adoption of a standard language through out the life span of the conference.
Bakare warned that religion must not be allowed to divide us, but must unite us.
“Mr. Chairman, I did not understand you today, again I did not understand you, yesterday. Religion should not divide us, but unite us. We must adopt a standard language if not, I will say Praise the Lord and at the end of the day, we will now have a church service instead of a National Conference.”
Speaking further, Pastor Bakare stressed the need for punctuality and sacrifice on the part of delegates, as he said that 10 a.m. must be 10 a.m. as punctuality is the soul of business and asked that delegates must agree on the quorum.