20180901

NBA Reacts To Buhari's Bid To Subordinate Rule Of Law To "National Security"

The 58th Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has ended in Abuja with the association rejecting the presidential statement subordinating the Rule of Law to National Security.

The NBA restated, in a communique made available to newsmen on Friday at the end of its conference, that the Rule of Law is central to a democracy and any National Security concerns and that the government must be managed within the perimeters and parameters of the Rule of Law.

Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari, had while declaring the conference opened said the security of the country cannot be sacrificed on the altar of the Rule of Law where national interest is threatened.

The NBA conference, which acknowledged the importance of a highly professional police force in a democratic dispensation, called on the federal government to adequately fund, equip and improve the welfare of the officers and men of the Nigerian Police.

It also urged government to give serious consideration to calls for the creation of states Police with safeguards to prevent abuse, this way, the association said, law and order will be more effective in the country.

According to the communique, the association frowned at the present growing trend whereby government decides on which court orders to obey, saying the “Court has exclusive duty under a democratic dispensation to interpret the Constitution and other laws, and government and the citizenry must comply with court orders at all times until set aside.”

The association also objected to the issuance of Presidential Executive Orders in respect to matters already in court, adding that, Executive Orders can be issued for good governance and to manage operations of government, and not to encroach or usurp upon the constitutional powers of other arms of government.

While noting that democracy can be better strengthened by an independent judiciary, the NBA called for a budgetary arrangement that will allow funds to be directly allocated to the judiciary at Federal and State levels.

As a way of institutionalising higher standards for transformational leadership in the country, the association called for new laws to set higher standards of academic qualifications for political office holders in Nigeria.

The communique which was signed by Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN) and Abiola Olagunju, the immediate past President and General Secretary of the NBA also made case for mutual respect between the Executive and Legislative arms of government for sustainable development.

“In this regard, public interest must be enthroned as a central pivot of governance, and the current bickering must be reduced to the barest minimum,” it said.

For rapid transformation of the economy, the NBA charged the federal government to approach poverty alleviation through wealth creation, industrialisation, provision of finance to small and medium enterprises and social welfare schemes.

“The Nigerian budget should be investment-driven with more reliance placed on local production and entrepreneurship while States should commit to supporting credit facilities to improve the provision of funds at the state level..."