By Innocent Anaba
The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, has expressed concern over the prolonged strike in tertiary institutions in the South-Eastern states.
NBA in a statement issued after its National Executive Council, NEC, meeting in Gombe State, noted the debilitating and negative impact of the strike on human resources development in those states and the country in general. It consequently called on the relevant state governments to, as a matter of urgency, engage the striking unions in constructive dialogue with a view to resolving the conflict in the overall interest of all concerned.
The association also expressed concern over the decline in the criminal justice system in the country as a result of the failure/neglect on the part of the legislature to pass pending relevant laws, such as the Criminal Justice Reform Bill, the Evidence (Amendment) Act, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC (Amendment) Act, among others.
It also condemned the abuse of the plea bargaining system,which it said “is not backed by specific federal legislation but frequently employed by federal agencies to provide soft landing for convicts of corruption-related offences.”
The NBA, therefore, called on the National Assembly to expedite action on the passage into law of the relevant pending Bills for efficient criminal justice administration in Nigeria.
The association also reviewed the mode of appointment of legal practitioners as representatives of the NBA into the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee, LPPC, by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, without consulting the association “as totally unacceptable and, therefore, rejected those appointees as representatives of the association and further resolved that representatives of the association should, apart from being made in consultation with the NBA, must include the serving president of the Association.”
The association also noted and deprecated the general state of insecurity, infrastructural decay and acts of executive lawlessness in the country and called on governments at all levels to live up to their responsibilities and ensure good governance.
It condemned the state of affairs in Ogun State, where the legislative arm of government, which is an essential part of any democracy, has been in abeyance for an unduly prolonged length of time, and noted the role played by the executive arm of government in the state in precipitating the crisis.
The NBA called for the immediate resolution of the crisis, failing which the federal government should set in motion the relevant process for the declaration of a state of emergency in Ogun State.