Full Text: Dr. Ubani, Chairman NBA-SPIDEL’s Address at the Press Briefing on SPIDEL 2022 Conference


Ahead of the 2022 Annual Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association’s Section on Public Interest and Development Law (NBA-SPIDEL), which is slated for Sokoto, the Sokoto State capital, from Sunday, May 22, to Thursday, May 26, 2022, the Chairman of the Section, Monday Onyekachi Ubani addressed a press conference in Lagos at which he outlined in comprehensive detail the programme of activities during the planned event.

Full text of the briefing

Gentlemen of the Press,

I am delighted to welcome you to this Press Conference to intimate you with details of our forthcoming 2022 Annual Conference.

The Annual Conference will hold from May 22 to May 26, 2022 at the exquisite Sokoto Conference Centre, Airport Road, Sokoto. The theme of the conference is “Rule of Law and Democratic Evolution in Nigeria” while the Keynote Address on “Rule of Law and Nigeria’s Democratic Experiences: The Way Forward” will be delivered by renowned jurist and former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ado-Ekiti, Prof. Akin Oyebode.

The Opening Ceremony on Monday, May 23, 2022 will witness addresses by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad; NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata; the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar and the Chief Judge of Sokoto State, Justice Muhammad Sa’idu Sifawa, to name a few. The Sokoto State Governor, His Excellency Aminu Waziri Tambuwal will declare the conference open.

The sub-themes to be dissected by an array of leading speakers include Democratic Evolution & Nation Building – The Past, Present & Future of Nigeria; The Rule of Law Index in the Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria; Costs of Elections (Human & Financial Costs) – Counting the Costing & Applying the Values; Rule of Law, Security & Promotion of Democracy; Civilian vs Uniformed Citizens – Human Rights Non-Compliance & The Changing Rules of Engagement; Tackling Impunity, Electoral Offenders and Insecurity; Unity in Diversity: The Rule of Law as the Unifier; Partnership Forum: Everyone a Changemaker Movement; Role of Technology in Electoral Governance; Electoral Act 2022 and Electoral Justice; Political Parties & Internal Party Democracies – Challenges & Prospects; Rule of Law and Elections as it affects persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups, and State Independent Electoral Commissions: Protectors or Destroyers of Democracy?

Among the many speakers that have confirmed attendance are Supreme Court jurist, Justice Inyang Okoro; Mr. Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner & Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee; Amnesty International Country Director, Ms. Osai Ojigho; former Oyo State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Chief Mutalubi Ojo Adebayo SAN; National Chairman of ADC, Chief Ralph Nwosu; Mr. Tony Nnadi, Secretary of Lower Niger Congress; Dr. Daniel Bwala, former Senior Special Assistant to the Senate President; and Prof. C. B. N. Ogbogbo, Director of Research at NARC.

Others are retired Assistant Inspector General of Police Olafimihan Adeoye; Prof. Yemisi Bamgbose SAN, Deputy Vice Chancellor of University of Ibadan; Mr. Samson Itodo, Executive Director at Yiaga Africa; Mr. Hilary Ogbonna of National Human Rights Commission; Prof. Remi Ayede, Head of Political Science Department at the University of Ibadan; Chi Chikwendu, Partner at Riverbrooke Solicitors London, UK; Prof. Agbo Madaki and Dr. Lydia Umar, Executive Director, Gender Awareness Trust.

Also expected at the annual conference are Dr. Amina Muhammed, United Nations Deputy Secretary General; INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu; Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah; Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, Founder, Fix Politics; Inspector General of Police Usman Alkali Baba; Mr. Tony Ojukwu SAN, Executive Chairman of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC); his predecessor in office, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu and several State Governors.

Aside from the intellectual feasting expected at the conference, many fun and sideline events have also been planned to ensure that the conferees have a best-in-class experience while in the royal, ancient and serene city of Sokoto. The conferees will be guests of the Sultanate when they visit the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar. Other fun sites to be visited by the conferees include the BUA Cement factory, Argungun UNESCO site, Sokoto Race Course and the History Bureau/Museum.

To ensure optimal comfort of the conferees, a Welcome Cocktail Party is to be hosted by the Chief Judge of Sokoto State while a Variety Night and several luncheons have been secured by the Conference Planning Committee (CPC) ably led by three-time Lagos State Commissioner, Dr. Muiz Banire SAN. I must especially thank the committee for its uncommon industry and foresight. This will be capped with a State Banquet to be hosted by the Sokoto State Government.

Let me at this juncture place on record the immense gratitude of the Section to the indefatigable Governor of Sokoto State, our learned friend, Mr. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal (Life Bencher). May I also note that Governor Tambuwal has thrown his full weight and that of the entire Sokoto State Government towards hosting of the Annual Conference in a secure and serene environment. It is noteworthy that Sokoto remains one of the safest cities in Nigeria, moreso as many of us recently visited the lovely city in the course of planning for the conference. This notwithstanding, the State Government has assured of security cordon and extra joint security patrols throughout the conference period. Noted for its quality leather and gold markets, the ancient city remains a tourist’s dream and delight.

It is noteworthy that the Conference Planning Committee has secured very reasonable rebates for as low as N6,000 per night from some leading hotels with barely 10 minutes shuttle distance from the Sokoto Conference Centre. The Local Organising Committee (LOC) has also secured free bus services to ferry conferees from their hotels to the conference venue. There are available direct flights from some cities to Sokoto, and conferees are advised to book their flights on time. Airlines that currently offer direct flights to Sokoto include MAX Air, Arik Airline and AERO Contractors.

Conferees will also have an opportunity for shopping both within Sokoto city and at the conference ground during the exhibition. In line with the pleas and enthusiasm shown by prospective conferees, the Early Bird registration window has been extended and will now end finally on May 11, 2022.

For registration, hotel reservation, sponsorship opportunities and more information on the Annual Conference, please visit https://nbaspidel.ng/.

Our Section has hosted very successful annual conferences in time past in Aba, Abia State and Ibadan, Oyo State. Given the planning that has gone into this year’s conference and the unflinching support of the Sokoto State Government, I have no doubt that the Sokoto annual conference will surpass our previous experiences by miles. We expect all lawyers and public interest stakeholders all over the federation in Sokoto this May!

Permit me to touch on a few pressing national issues. NBA-SPIDEL condemns unequivocally the attempt by our national legislators to criminalize ransom payment by victims of kidnapping without tackling the root cause of kidnapping. Law ought to reflect reality in any given society. The truth of the matter is that victims of kidnapping pay ransoms out of desperation and abject helplessness, knowing fully well that the State has failed and is unable to protect lives and property or secure the release of their loved ones from kidnappers’ den.

It is very appalling therefore that the same country that has failed to provide security to the people it governs is embarking on a ‘suicide mission’ of criminalizing ransom payment by the very victims that are helpless and desperate to save the lives of their loved ones. This piece of legislation under contemplation lacks logic and wisdom and the House of Representatives is hereby advised jettison the Bill without any further consideration. It does not make any sense at all! Instead, the Legislature is strongly advised to focus on laws that will strengthen national security and protection of lives and property, assuming there is a lacuna.

I dare say Nigerians are shocked at the number of presidential aspirants buying Expression of Interest forms from their various parties at very exorbitant fees. At this juncture, what we advise is that Nigerians should be alert and ‘shine their eyes’ in order to avoid the grave error of the past.

We must separate the wheat from the chaff, pretenders from contenders. Our wrong choices of the past have kept us where we are today – retarded. It will be a colossal disaster if after passing through the harrowing experiences of the past years due to wrong choices, we make the same mistake in 2023 by choosing most of the jesters who are parading themselves as presidential candidates.

We refuse to believe that Nigeria is under a curse of bad leadership. If there is any curse, let us consciously and vigorously break the yoke of that curse collectively and choose a destiny of progress and growth. Let Nigerians arise from slumber and insist on leadership with antecedents, a leadership that can take us to our desired destination. It is possible if we collectively push for it. May God guide us on this noble cause.

Finally, may we remind the legislators that the constitutional amendment is being eagerly monitored and awaited by Nigerians. We have always advocated for a new autochthonous constitution, a constitution made by the people themselves. We demand the immediate passage of some of the amendments to the 1999 Constitution which may correct some of the noticeable flaws in our federal structure. We need more powers and funds to be devolved to the federating units in order to correct the present defective system. Even though a half measure, it is better than doing nothing with the present overbearing federal structure that breeds intolerable inefficiency.

Gentlemen of the Press, thank you for your presence. As a Section, we solicit your partnership in every sphere and especially as it concerns our planned conference taking place in Sokoto between 22nd and 26th May, 2022.

Thank you.

Chairman, NBA-SPIDEL
May 04, 2022

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