- Says lawyers are endangered in North-east
Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has declared that judges and lawyers could no longer practise freely in the North-east because of the invasion of the zone by Boko Haram insurgents.
The President of the association, Abubakar Mahmoud, who spoke at the inauguration of NBA’s North-east and Niger-Delta task forces in Abuja, said lawyers had become endangered in the region.
He said the task forces would assist the victims of the crises in the two regions.
He said with internally displaced persons in the North-east “estimated to be 2.3million which is the third largest in the world after Syria and Columbia,” insurgency in the region had affected the independence of the legal profession.
According to him, judges had been avoiding some types of cases because they fear for their lives.
He also expressed regret that judicial officers and their families were are given adequate protection to enable them carry out their duties without fear or favour.
He said:”It is also worthy of mention that the insurgency in the North-east has affected the independence of the legal profession and the welfare of our members.
“Legal practice in North-eastern Nigeria has been largely disrupted as a result of the insurgency in the region. Our noble colleagues in that part of the country are besieged and endangered.
“There are even many of our members from other parts of Nigeria who have lived and practiced in North-eastern Nigeria for years. Some even married and settled there. But as I speak most of our members have not only lost their practice as professionals, but have also lost their livelihoods and physical wellbeing.
“Even some of our members are regarded as insurgents and threatened with prosecution. Also judicial officers are loathe to adjudicate on certain types of cases in the absence of adequate protection of their lives and families.
“This is the situation in which our members have found themselves in the North-east of Nigeria.”
Members of the NBA North-east Task Force led Prof. Mohammed M. Tabiu (SAN) as Chairman are, Prof. Ayo Atsenuwa (Alternate Chairman), . Prof. Isa Hayatu Chiroma, Rakiya Mukhtar Tofa, Altine Ibrahim, Hafsatu Mohammed, Hassan Maidoki, Lauretta Adaeze and Hauwa Shekarau.
Others are Amina Ibrahim, Ronke Ige, Alfa Ibrahim, Isa Muhammad Nurudeen and Kunle Adegoke (Secretary).
Members of the Niger Delta counterpart led by Albert Akpomudge (SAN) as Chairman are, Ledum Mitee ( Alternate Chairman), Mia Essien (SAN), Mba Ukweni, (SAN), Q. E. B. Offiong (SAN), Charles Ajuwa (SAN), Sosoprieye Long Williams and Kelvin Ejelonu.
Other members of the Niger Delta Task Force are,: Muyiwa Olowokure,. Sagir Gazawa, Lillian Ene Ogar, Nkiruka Maduekwe, and Alex Mouka (Secretary).
They will provide “legal assistance and support to our members affected by the conflict; and pro bono legal assistance to individuals and communities within the region affected by the conflict.”
The task forces will also “advise on the general challenges in the region with a view to enhancing environmental protection and the quality of life in the region.”
They are also to give regular reports to the national leadership of the association.