NBA/Gani Fawehinmi Award for Human Rights and Social Justice 2017 Presented to Hon. Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi, GCON


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1. This award was proposed to the NBA in 2009 by the Open Society Justice Initiative and thereafter instituted by the Akeredolu administration after ratification by the National Executive Committee (NEC) at Yola, Adamawa State in February, 2010. The award, approved by NEC at Yola (aforesaid) comprised:-
(i) A Plaque;
(ii) A Certificate; and
(iii) Cash of N1m (One Million Naira).

The first ever winner (in 2010) was ACCESS TO JUSTICE, whose Director, Joseph Otteh, received the award at the annual general conference of the NBA at Kaduna.

2. Highlights of the award
As proposed by the Akeredolu administration:-
(a) Nominations to be opened on December 10, each year, December 10 beingthe anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
b) Nominations to be published in newspapers and on-line;
(c) Nominations to close in June thereafter;
(d) The committee handling awards to announce the winner(s) by the July NEC;
(e) The NBA Secretariat to notify the winners thereafter;
(f) To be presented on the first day of the Annual General Conference of the NBA.

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3. Why December 10, 2017?
However, as part of the Brave New Bar initiative of the AB Mahmoud administration, a departure from the Akeredolu administration decision of announcing the awardee at the annual general conference was occasioned in order to make up for the 6 year hiatus, 2011 – 2016, where there were no awards. It became imperative to constitute this award immediately after the inauguration of the current governing council

4.Why Chief Justice Idris Kutigi, GCON?
And why has retired Chief Justice Idris Kutigi been chosen as Gani Fawehinmi Human Rights and Social Justice Laureate 2017?

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On the 17th day of November, 2009, as the Honourable Chief Justice of Nigeria, he enacted new Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure)Rules 2009 pursuant to powers conferred upon him by Section 46 (3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, thus repealing the rules made by Chief Justice Atanda Fatai-Williams pursuant to powers conferred on him by Section 42 (3) of the 1979 Constitution.

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If adequate human rights enforcement remain a mirage in some areas of national life, it will not be for lack of adequate rules. The 2009 Rules as enacted by Chief Justice Kutigi have revolutionized human rights enforcement in Nigeria, by embodying some radical and far-reaching concepts which have greatly enhanced the advancement and protection of the Fundamental Rights of the populace. The general thrust and basic policy of the Rules include the following:
– To ensure speedy and expeditious dispensation of justice in Human Rights Cases;
– To ensure the simplification and liberalisation of Human Rights procedural rules;
– To ensure the simplification and liberalisation of Human Rights procedural rules;
– To eliminate all inordinate delays and technicalities which have hitherto bedevilled the enforcement of the Fundamental Rights of Litigants;
– To give Human Rights Cases overriding precedence and priority over all daily business of the court;
– To guarantee increased and unlimited access to court for litigants seeking to enforce their Fundamental Rights;
– To ensure that the court expansively construe the provisions of the Constitution and other Human Rights Provisions to ensure that the rights of the populace are not whittled down in any way.

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Honouring Chief Justice Kutigi was not a one-man decision. Several nominations were received after the adverts placed by the NBA. The nominations were subjected to the vote by the 17 member governing council, with Hon. Justice Kutigi GCON emerging the winner by more than half the votes. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I welcome you most heartily to this epoch-making and ground-breaking event. Hearty congratulations to the Gani Fawehinmi Human Rights and Social Justice Laureate 2017 – Hon. Justice Idris Kutigi, former Chief Justice of Nigeria.

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