The 2020 Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA AGC) has began with over 22,000 registered conferees attending the opening ceremony of the first ever virtual conference of the Association.
According to NBA President, Paul Usoro, the 60th edition of the conference represents a novel platform for knowledge exchange on the continent. In his address, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN noted that about 25,000 conferees are expected to participate in this year’s conference.
He commended NBA members for remaining united and professional, adding that while “those who are bent on dividing the Bar” would not relent, “We must always remember that we are one united Nigerian Bar Association. We must continue to ensure that we remain a united bar association; we must not be divided along ethnic, religious and other lines. It must always be ‘One is for all, and all is for all.’”
Speaking on the theme of the conference, Usoro said that when combined with last year’s theme, the conference urges lawyers and other stakeholders “to step forward and face the future.”
He noted that the association is celebrating not only its first virtual conference but for surviving the coronavirus pandemic, even as “some of our colleagues and judges have passed.” He called for a one-minute silence in honour of the deceased, adding that “we will continue to honour their memory by making sure we remain one united bar.”
On his part the Chairman of the Technical Committee on Conference Planning (TCCP), Prof. Konyin Ajayi SAN noted that the conference is a landmark in the annals of the association, noting that it is the “first virtual conference ever of the NBA.”
In a veiled reference to the controversies that trailed the conference recently, he apologized to those “who may have felt offended” by the turn of events.
On his part, the Attorney-General & Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN stated that the Federal Government would continue to support judicial autonomy.
He noted that his ministry has aided the recovery of $301 million looted funds which has been “ploughed into economy,” adding that the theme of the conference urges all stakeholders “to step out of our comfort zone” and take measures that galvanize economic development.
Represented by the Solicitor General of the Federation & Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr. Dayo Apata SAN, Malami stated that President Muhammadu Buhari has “improved” Nigeria’s legal system through the issuance of Executive Orders “for better implementation of law,” stating that “there is need for better understanding of executive orders.” He stated that Executive Orders “are directives which outline how to implement existing law,” adding that such orders “must flow from the Constitution and Acts of the National Assembly.”
In his address, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad applauded the association “for holding this virtual conference in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic,” noting that this “exemplifies the doggedness of the Bar under the able leadership of Paul Usoro SAN.”
He stated that “We have enjoyed excellent working relations with the Nigerian Bar Association,” and commended the array of speakers at the conference.
According to Justice Tanko, the theme of the conference “is more of a challenge to all of us to improve our legal system so that we can be leading lights of the nation.” Commending the NBA on its diamond anniversary, he stated that the conference underscores that the Bar is setting the pace in many areas of national life.