Former President Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has charged African lawyers to work to protect democracy, good governance, human rights, as a means of bringing an end to growing conflicts and violence in the continent.
In this regard, he urged them to advocate for the establishment of a strong rule of law, describing it as a basis for accountable governance which would help prevent and mitigate violent crimes.
Dr. Jonathan stated this in a speech titled ‘Accountable Governance as a Panacea for the Unending Conflicts in Africa: The Legal Profession as the Driver,’ which he presented on Monday as the guest speaker at the 2021 Annual African Bar Association (AFBA) Conference holding in Niamey, Niger Republic.
In establishing a correlation between functional governance and security, the former President noted that “lack of accountability leads to conflicts and insecurity while accountable governance almost always leads to peace, stability and development.”
He further noted that all actors within the judicial system have a critical role to play in advancing the course of justice towards bringing peace and development to society.
He averred that one of the most critical purposes of law in society is to preserve the moral sanctity that binds the people, describing the law as the upholder and provider of order.
According to him: “The rule of law is more potent in preserving societies than the rule of man. A functional legal system should therefore serve as a hope enabler and catalyst for peace, societal order, growth and development.”
“African lawyers both at the bar and the bench, therefore have a great role to play in advocating for the rule of law in our nations. In fact, the role of the state attorneys is critical, if Africa will witness reduced conflicts. I urge lawyers and judicial officers not to compromise their integrity in the process of upholding the rule of law and resolving disputes either in the courts or via the various alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms.”
The former President also made a case for free, fair and credible elections and urged legal professionals to lend their weight towards deepening democracy in Africa.
He said: “There is no doubt that the independence of the electoral management bodies, is the key plank upon which a thriving democracy rests. I have always made the case that a truly democratic system narrows the space for strife and conflicts.