The outgoing President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr Olumide Akpata, has charged members of the association to defend the masses, be vigilant and watch out for what he considered a conspiracy to dim the power of the association.
Mr Akpata made the call in his remarks at the Two-Day workshop and training on the Implementation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL) in Warri, Delta State on Tuesday.
Emphasising on the role of lawyers in enforcing justice, the legal practitioner said the NBA was one of the pre-eminent associations in Nigeria and its members must do everything in their power to guide its achievements.
“Our association is very dear to us so I was just calling lawyers to watch out for what I consider the conspiracy to dim the power of the Nigerian Bar Association.
“The NBA is one of the foremost professional organisations in Nigeria and I think we must be careful. We must protect what we have achieved.
“This organisation does not only superintend over the affairs of lawyers but has interjected into the affairs of the nation.
“As lawyers, we have the mandate of the people to defend them, enforce the rule of law, speak for them and to ensure that this country is run on the basis of our Constitution and not on the wings and caprices of anybody.
“Not many people are happy that the association is strong and vibrant.
“I’m about to leave the stage as president and I was just charging by colleagues to be vigilant, that not many are happy about the strength of our association; so I think we must protect that which is ours,” he charged.
Giving an overview of the programme and the role the collaborator, the MacArthur Foundation, played in funding, Mr Akpata averred that the ACJL has been implemented in 34 states out of the 36 states of the federation.
He said: “This programme is a cardinal programme. MacArthur is very interested in public affairs and they worked with us and other members to see to the implementation of the act.
“They took it upon themselves to champion the domestication of the programme and now, we have the ACJL in 34 states out of the 36 States.
“They provided more funding for us to go around the country to see and monitor how well these various laws are being implemented in the various jurisdictions and I simply continued with the good work already in place when I came in.
“Our problem in Nigeria is not lacking law, it is implementation. We did sensitisation on how the law works with various stakeholders.
“The addition this administration brought about was the realisation of the make it mar role of the police in the process; this programme is to scrutinise how we’ll we can add value to the role the police play.
The day-two of the workshop had various discussants ranging from the Solicitor-General/Permanent Secretary to Delta State Ministry of Justice represented by J.A. Otive, Criminal Division, Warri Delta State Judiciary, Hon. Justice Akpovi, amongst others.
The Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice, Delta State Ministry, Hon. Isaiah Bozimo and the Commissioner of Police, Cp Ari Muhammed Ali, were represented by Mrs E. J Odogwu and Mr Friday Itua respectively in the event.