Tobi Soniyi in Lagos
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has declared that no part of Nigeria is safe. NBA President, Mr Paul Usoro, SAN, made the declaration on Thursday while delivering an address at the association’s national executive committee (NEC) meeting, which held at the NBA secretariat in Abuja.
Usoro cited three instances where members of the association were abducted and killed.
He said: “My dear colleagues, as you would observe, I have given you three illustrative instances of the insecurity that pervades our land from the three NBA Nigerian Zones – East, West and North – and that, by itself, makes the point that no part of our country is safe.
“Just yesterday, 19 June 2019, the Nigerian Guardian newspaper reported that the United Kingdom had issued travel advisory warning against travels to 21 states in Nigeria. In the South-west region of Nigeria, it has been reported in the last couple of days that the son of the immediate past Minister of Health was kidnapped. No region is safe, and no tribe is safe. No one, indeed, is safe.
“And yet, we have governments in place, at the Federal, State and Local Government levels and the primary business of governments is the protection of lives and property. Indeed, without security of lives and property, everything else grinds to a halt. As the saying goes, ‘safety first’.
“Only those who are alive can enjoy medi-care, educational facilities, infrastructure renewal, economic boom and all the other tangible and intangible benefits of a democratic society. And, by the way, not to be forgotten or diminished by our politicians in power is the fact that only those who are alive can vote in the next election. Only those who are alive can trigger boom and prosperity in our economy. Only those who are alive can benefit from and applaud the government for the war against corruption. It is therefore in the interest of the government as much as it is in the interest of the governed for lives and property to be secured and safe.
“We, therefore, demand from our governments at all levels this basic minimum of their debt to us, to wit, security of lives and property in the land.”
Usoro also spoke on the independence of the judiciary, saying judges in the country are afraid to perform their duties as expected due to fear and intimidation from the executive arm of government.
He expressed worry over the “intimidation of judges by members of the executive arm and security operatives”, saying that judges now “operate under an oppressive and pervasive climate of fear and insecurity.”
According to him, “Our judges are threatened, intimidated and blackmailed mostly by the executive arm of government and their agencies both at the federal and state levels,” he said.
Usoro added, “Our judges cannot deliver justice under a climate of fear and intimidation. Justice thrives where and when there is an independent judiciary. There can be no such independence when there is no security of tenure for our judges. There can be no independence of the judiciary when our judges are intimidated, threatened and blackmailed by state agencies and their officials.
“There can be no independence of the judiciary when our judges are actively coerced by state officials to think and reason only in the manner that those officials and, presumably, government want them to think.”