The Speaker of the Akwa Ibom state House of Assembly, Onofiok Luke Esq has called on the chairmen of the four branches of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Akwa Ibom state to pursue with vigorously the issue of continuous legal education among lawyers in the state to take advantage of the industrialization drive of the present administration in the state. The Speaker made the call when the four chairmen of the four branches of the association in the state paid him a visit in his office at the assembly complex in Uyo, July 31, 2017.
Speaker Luke said that the current trend towards industrialization and growing economic activities call for services that only specialization can afford lawyers in the state. He said that a new drive towards training and retraining of lawyers in such areas as Arbitration, Maritime law practice, Company law practice, Oil and Gas practice and such other specialized legal fields has become necessary now that more and more investors are coming into the state. He said Akwa Ibom lawyers must not wait until lawyers from other states starts migrating into the state before they wake up to the need for special skills in the emerging industrialized state.
The Speaker called on the Bar to take up the gauntlet in advocating for accountability in governance, beginning with holding the assembly accountable in its legislative responsibilities to the state.
“a time has come for us to begin to rise and speak against those things we feel are not right in the society. A time has come for the NBA and other professional bodies to up their game in holding public officials accountable in their actions and words”, the Speaker challenged.
While reassuring of the commitment of the 6th assembly towards giving the necessary legislative backing to speedy dispensation of justice in the state, the Speaker reminded the Bar that the recent expeditious passage of the Criminal Justice Administration law sponsored by Etinan Representative, Hon. Aniefiok Dennis, goes further to show the resolve of the legislature in that direction.
In his words: “I want to assure the Bar of the commitment of the sixth assembly towards the speedy dispensation of criminal justice. That is why we had to expeditiously pass the administration of criminal justice law which was sponsored by one of our members who heads the House Committee of Judiciary Justice, Human Rights and Public Petition.
“We did this taking into consideration the challenges that the federal government is facing in the implementation of the criminal justice act 2015. And in the one that we have passed, we have been able to cure the defects in our own version. I believe that by the time ours is fully implemented, we would have changed the dynamics of criminal justice in the state”.
He promised to discuss the issues raised by the NBA Chairmen, especially as regards the implementation of the already passed law establishing a Customary Court of Appeal in the state, with the Governor with a view to seeking solution to the matters raised.
The Speaker also gave clarifications on the under-process anti-grazing bill which sparked up controversies among members of the public when brought into the House. On this, he noted that it was unfair for some members of the public to outrightly condemn the said bill without taking time to look at its good intentions.
“People’s input in whatever we do will be determined by their level of knowledge. I say this using one of our bills for instance- the anti-grazing bill by the house of assembly. People went to town to criticize members of the house of assembly without understanding what the bill seeks to do. We have challenges, especially this farming season where herdsmen are taking their cattle to rear in farmlands; sometimes, it results in a clash, and in extreme cases, it results in fatality.
“Some members sat together and discussed on the need to curb the open grazing by herdsmen. They found out that sometimes between the hours of 10pm and maybe about 1 or 2am, you see cattle on the streets of our city. These members then rose and said that it is not good for us to allow this to happen; is there any way we can come together to ask herdsmen to do their cattle rearing business within the best practices in cattle rearing worldwide?
“If there are certain positions in the bill that they feel will not go down well with the people of the state, it is at the level of the public hearing that opportunities will be open for people to come and point out where they are not comfortable with, instead of going to cast aspersions on the legislature without looking the purpose of the bill and the mischief that it seeks to curb. And if you are saying we should not pass the anti-grazing bill, then you have to come and suggest to us an alternative means to check this open grazing by herdsmen”, Luke explained.
Speaking on behalf of the NBA Chairmen, the Eket Branch Chairman, UDA Imeh Esq, the NBA in the state commended the Speaker for his contributions towards the promotion of the rule of law in Akwa Ibom State. The Chairmen drew the attention of the Speaker to the implementation of the law establishing a Customary Court of Appeal and the lack of a functional Judiciary Complex in the state.
The Chairmen at a the visit included the Uyo branch chairman, Eno-Obong Akpan Esq, chairman of Ikot Ekpene branch, Sir Cosmas Udoette, the Oron branch chairman, Ekung Bassey Okon Esq and the Eket branch chairman, U. D. A Imeh
Source: National News Track
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