The President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Paul Usoro, has called on its members not to allow politicians to subvert the will of Nigerians during the forthcoming general elections across the country.
This is even as he said the association has started the process of resuscitating the moribund NBA insurance scheme in other to give members renewed hope in 2019.
In a statement he issued to mark the New Year, Usoro said lawyers have a civic responsibility to cast their votes and have additional roles to play in assisting to ensure that the will of Nigerians are not subverted.
He said: “Part of the roles of lawyers include participation in voter education, consultation with relevant stakeholders to ensure free, fair and violence-free elections, monitoring the electoral processes and, not least, blowing the whistle on perceived or identified plans to subvert the people’s will.
“Nigerians need to be encouraged not to mortgage their future on the altar of immediate and ephemeral gratifications. We need to understand that our lives and the lives of our children and future generations are at stake in these elections and we must therefore vote our convictions,” Usoro explained.
He said in the succeeding days, NBA will unveil concrete steps it would take, in a non-partisan manner, to contribute to the success of the 2019 elections.
NBA Leader called on lawyers not to lose sight of their core responsibility and obligation to promote, protect and uphold the rule of law in the country.
“In our country, the rule of law suffers degradation in multiple ways. The rule of law is trampled upon when there is no access to justice or when such access is denied, not well defined or is constrained, stifled or impaired howsoever.
“The rule of law is threatened when the practice of law, whether at the Bar or on the Bench, is brought under siege by agencies of state through their actions and/or inactions. The rule of law suffers subjugation when the rights of our people are trodden upon whether in terms of rights abuses or brazen disobedience of court orders and judgments.
“The rule of law is degraded when we, wittingly or unwittingly, fail to build strong institutions that can stand up to the arbitrariness and abuse of power. In 2019, we will continue to condemn and beam our searchlights on these undermining practices. Nigerian lawyers must stand as a united and independent Bar against these unwholesome and undemocratic practices; in carrying out this responsibility we must not be cowed or intimated howsoever,” he added.
The NBA president also noted that the proposed insurance scheme was in fulfilment of his team’s electoral promise to put members first at all times and to focus, amongst others, on their welfare.
He said: “The insurance scheme, in our understanding, was designed primarily to serve as a safety-net for members in circumstances of death and/or disability.
“In revamping the scheme, we are taking a holistic look at it, and would in particular, review the required props for its sustainability, the scope of coverage and the basket of benefits that members should and would derive from the scheme.
We would be consultative in our approach in the redesigning of the scheme and would take on board your suggestions thereon,” he added.