By John Shiklam
The Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Nigeria (CLASFON) has asked the federal government to take urgent steps to end the alarming insecurity in the country.
CLASFON, a faith based non-governmental organization for Christian lawyers and law graduates in Nigeria, lamented the increasing rate of banditry and other criminal activities evident in daily reports of killings and incessant kidnappings.
It expressed this concern in a communique it issued after its quarterly National Executive Council meeting which held between November 20 and 22, through Zoom Video Conferencing.
In its communique, the group said the nation “is plunging into a state of complete anarchy with the recent reports of kidnapping of police officers and other security personnel for ransom, the recent killing of the Nasarawa State Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lafia and the kidnapping of Pastor Polycarp Zongo of the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) on his way from Jos, Plateau state to Gombe.”
The communique, which was co-signed by the president of CLASFON, Mr. Arome Okwori and its Secretary, Mr. Olatunji Omole, said in the face of this monumental collapse of security and a near total breakdown of law and order in Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari had not deemed it necessary to change the service chiefs and to overhaul the entire security architecture of the country.
The communique urged the federal and state governments to take urgent steps to secure the release of Pastor Zongo and other citizens in the hands of terrorists, bandits and other criminal elements and to put concrete measures in place to secure the safety of lives and properties of all citizens.
The group further expressed concern over the unending strike by the Academic and Staff Union of universities (ASUU) and called on the union and government to resolve the issues and reopen the universities in the best interest of the students.
It warned that the prolonged industrial action, if not urgently brought to an end, will have devastating effect on the career prospects of many young Nigerians as well as the social and economic development plans of the federal government.
The communique also condemned what it described as “the undue political interference” in the appointment of chief judges in the states.
The group specifically frowned at happenings in Cross River and Gombe states, where, according to it, “judges who are qualified for appointments as chief judges were sidelined on the basis of ethnicity and religion.”
CLASFON alleged that “Justice Akon Ikpeme of Cross River state and Justice Beatrice Iliya of Gombe state, though eminently qualified for appointments as chief judges in their states, were both sidelined on either ethnic, gender or religious grounds.”
The communique said, “The intriguing and embarrassing circumstances surrounding the appointment of the chief judges of Cross Rivers and Gombe States have brought to the fore, the urgent need to evolve beyond tribal, religious or gender sentiments and to focus on factors bordering on merit, efficiency and equitable considerations.”
The communique however commended the stance of the National Judicial Council (NJC) on both cases and expressed the hope that the right things will be done in the end.
It added that the NJC should be more assertive in defending the spirit and letters of the constitution.
The christian lawyers called on the Gombe and Cross River states governors to heed the voice of reason and do what is right in order to secure the independence of the judiciary in their states.