Paul Usoro. Image: Lawyard via The Guardian
ABUJA (THE GUARDIAN) -- The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has cried out that executive arms of government, both at the federal and state levels, have sustained their attacks on the judiciary all in a bid to get judges to do their biddings and skew justice in their favour.
The group has also deplored the pervasive insecurity that has enveloped the entire country, while the Federal Government and its entire security apparatchik appear blank and incapable of ensuring the protection of lives and property of Nigerians.
President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Paul Usoro, SAN, speaking at the body’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting in Abuja on Thursday, expressed worry over the intimidation of judges by members of the executive arms and their agencies, stressing that judges now “operate under an oppressive and pervasive climate of fear and insecurity.”
According to him, “the independence of the judiciary, which we all understand to mean not only the independence of tenure and control of funds, but also the latitude to have an independent and uncontrolled mind to reach decisions and dispense justice fairly to all and sundry without fear or favour. Not many if anyone in this auditorium would doubt that our judges, from the lowest to the highest cadre, today operate under an oppressive and pervasive climate of fear and insecurity. Our judges are threatened, intimidated and blackmailed mostly by the executive arms of government and their agencies both at the federal and state levels. Ask any counsel of note who will be willing to honestly share his or her experience with you these days and you would be told that a significant consideration in planning the strategy for the prosecution of any case that the government, notably the Federal Government has an interest in, is the concern whether the presiding judge has the backbone and fibre not to be looking continually behind his or her shoulder to decipher how the government wishes the matter to be determined.”
Usoro, who narrated to his members, the kidnap and murder of their colleagues across the country said with the soaring rate of violent crimes and unabated bloodletting, which forced the United Kingdom to recently issue a travel advisory warning its citizens against travelling to 21 states, matters may get out of hand if urgent solutions are not put in place.
Insisting that no region or tribe is safe, he said, “Indeed, without security of lives and property, everything else grinds to a halt … Only those who are alive can enjoy medicare, 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.”