NBA’s President, Chief Joseph Bodurin Daudu (SAN)
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) yesterday declared as unconstitutional the declaration of political autonomy by the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP).
Addressing journalists in Abuja to announce the association’s preparation for its 52nd annual general conference, NBA’s President, Chief Joseph Bodurin Daudu (SAN), said the constitution did not allow any part of the country to secede.
He said: “It is unconstitutional for any part to seek to breakaway or to do any acts that amount to that.”
He called on the government of President Goodluck Jonathan to take immediate steps to denounce the secession bid of the Ogoni people and any other part of the country.
He said: “Government should take steps to denounce it. No constitutional provision for state flag. The constitution does not allow it. Government should come out to denounce it. No right to self-determination under the constitution.”
He however distinguished between a state adopting jingles that extol the virtue of culture of that particular state from an outright act of secession.
“Extolling the virtue of your state is not an anthem. That is permissible. It must be done within the ambit of Nigeria. Secessionist is illegal. Isolation and independence are not allowed,” he added.
On August 2nd, 2012, MOSOP declared political autonomy from Nigeria.
In a live broadcast on a newly-established radio station: Voice of Ogoni, MOSOP President/spokesman, Dr. Goodluck Diigbo, said: “By this declaration of political autonomy, we, the Ogoni people are determined to enforce the United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples, without fear or retreat.”
He said self-government within Nigeria would secure for the Ogoni people, their indigenous rights, enable them to meet their needs and interests and finally end internal colonialism.
Reacting to the threat by some members of the association to organise protest at the venue of the conference because of the high fees payable for qualification to participate at the conference, Daudu warned such members to rather sit down in their houses instead of coming to Abuja to disrupt the conference.
He justified the imposition of the fees, which would make the association to be independent.
According to him, instead of going cap in hand to beg for funds, the association took the decision to charge some fees.
As shown in the leaflets printed to herald the conference, lawyer with one to five years at the bar will pay N20,000 while those with six to ten years post call experience will pay N30,000 Senior Advocates of Nigeria will pay N150, 000 while judges are expected to pay N75,000. Political office holders will pay N200,000.
Justifying the fees, Daudu said: “We want to be independent. We don’t want to go and be begging people for money. We should be able to speak on issues without fear and favour. But if you collect money from people you lack the legitimacy to criticise them.
“People should pay for what they benefit. We attend conferences worldwide and we pay. Why should we not want to pay in Nigeria?
While warning those who would not pay not to come near the venue, Daudu said the association would not allow any form of demonstration or protest anywhere near the conference venue.
He said: “Some branches have said that they would not attend. Don’t come to the conference venue if you don’t pay. We will not allow anybody to breach the peace. The best thing for them to do is to keep away. If you don’t have tags, don’t come near the conference. We need to ensure the safety of those who will be participating.”
He advised them to sit at home instead of coming to protest. He said the security situation in the country would not allow the association to permit anybody to breach the peace. He also reacted to the criticisms which greeted the just concluded association’s election, saying that the election was free and fair.
He said: “We have no interest in who succeed us. We have no need to impose candidates. We left it open.”