A former minister of education, Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili, human rights lawyers, Femi Falana and Professor Akin Oyebode yesterday called on the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to lead the crusade for the rights and liberties of Nigerians.
They made the call while speaking at the ongoing Law Week of the Lagos Branch of the NBA on the theme “National Security and Our Fundamental Rights”.
Dr Ezekwesili particularly called out the NBA for failing to call the attorney general of the federation to order over what she described as an unacceptable disrespect for due process and the rule of law in Nigeria under his watch.
The co-founder of the Bring Back our Girls movement noted that Nigerian lawyers must be at the forefront of the fight against the irresponsibility of the present government.
She insisted that lawyers cannot afford to sit in their comfort zone as doing so will only lead Nigeria into further socio-economic depression.
She said she was reluctant in deciding whether or not to attend the Law Week when she received the invitation of the NBA because the NBA has been sitting to watch the actions of the AGF in the face of human rights and rule of law violations in the country.
Dr Ezekwesili, therefore, charged the NBA Lagos branch to see the Law Week as an avenue to take away a vital call to action.
In his remarks at the event, Femi Falana (SAN), made references to the recent past killings of October 20, 2020, at the Lekki Toll Gate following the #EndSARS protest.
He noted that in spite of the killing of innocent Nigerians by armed security agencies the cases are almost treated with kid gloves.
According to him, the court remains the last hope of the common man and all hands must be on deck to protect its sanctity.
He recalled yet another episode in the recent past when a former chairman of the NBA Ikorodu branch was suspended for canvassing that the right process be adopted for lawyers to accompany magistrates to detention centres to ensure that suspects are not illegally detained.
Falana noted that the Ikorodu chairman as he then was, was suspended by the NBA simply for seeking that the right thing be done.
He said that every element of indiscipline must be nipped in the bud to allow justice thrive.
“Our lawyers and judges if they are ready to save the Nigerian people from oppression, we have the powers to do so and must not allow negatives powers to stop the move,” he said.
On his part, Prof Akin Oyebode while responding to the question on how fundamental rights can be upheld expressed regrets that the nation was fast going into decay.
According to him, Nigeria is now in a sorry state of affairs and urgent moves must be made for its rescue.
“No Government will be so powerful as to ignore the international community,” he said.
Also speaking at the event, Prof Chidi Odinkalu who spoke via zoom also expressed concerns at the rising wave of insecurity in the country.