The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has condemned the heightened agitation by individuals, groups and organisations calling for the violent breakup of Nigeria, stating that advocacy for violent breakup of the country is misguided.
The NBA, in a statement signed by the associationâ€™s President, Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN), stated that it rejected these tendencies unequivocally and condemned all such threats to the sovereign existence of Nigeria and the peaceful co-existence of our communities.
The association also stressed that it recognised that Nigeria is going through difficult economic times, a direct product of the failure of successive governments to diligently tackle the myriad challenges bedeviling our country.
However, the NBA said it was confident that Nigerians can and would resist the tendency to turn on one another during these difficult times.
â€œThe NBA reaffirms its belief in unity and sovereignty of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We believe that the peoples of Nigeria, irrespective of diversities of identity, face common and shared everyday challenges and desire a stable and secure country based on justice, equity and the rule of law.
â€œThe NBA is convinced that our various peoples have consistently shown the capacity and desire to live together in a federation under democratically elected government, which alone can guarantee the conditions for addressing the imperfections that ail our country.
â€œThe NBA is convinced that our people are better off in a united Nigeria run and managed in accordance with the principles of justice, equity and the rule of law, and capable of harnessing our diversities in a manner that strengthens our historic bonds of coexistence. Any advocacy for violent breakup of the country is misguided.
â€œThe NBA uncompromisingly affirms that all citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria have the constitutional and legal right to live, travel to and own or acquire movable or immovable property in any part of the federation.
â€œNo individual, group or organisation under any guise can lawfully issue any form of notice to Nigerians with the goal of diminishing the enjoyment of these rights.
â€œThe NBA reaffirms that Nigerian citizens everywhere have a constitutional right to free expression and to robustly debate issues affecting our country. It is however clear that the constitutional right to free speech does not extend to or protect hate speech.
â€œThe NBA commits to working with the appropriate security agencies to ensure accountability for such acts.
â€œAccordingly, I have today directed the Section on Public Interest and Development Law (SPIDEL) and the Human Rights Institute of the NBA (NBA-HRH to collaborate with the National Secretariat of the NBA in a unit to monitor and liaise with security agencies to ensure accountability for hate speech and incitement to identity-based hatred in Nigeria.
â€œThe NBA appeals to media houses, publishers, broadcasters, opinion leaders, politicians, faith and community leaders, intellectuals, social media influencers and on air personalities (GAPS) to exercise responsibility and utmost professionalism in the content they publish or distribute through their platforms.
â€œThe NBA urges Nigerians to unite in isolating and shaming opportunists that have decided to put the co existence and well being of our people at risk for their narrow ends. Such a step will further affirm the resolve of the Nigerian people to live in peace and harmony under a democracy founded on justice, equity and rule of law.â€