THE Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) yesterday said Nigeria does not need to convene a sovereign national conference to address its problems. NBA President Okechukwu Wali (SAN), at a press conference, said the country “does not need another gathering in Abuja.” He said rather than such a national conference, attention should be paid to amending the Constitution on a piecemeal basis, according to the needs of Nigerians. “Any modification to the Constitution can be done through the National Assembly.
We recommend piecemeal amendment of the Constitution. We don’t think we need to create another gathering. “We do not call for a sovereign national conference because are we going to get people elected to do that? We don’t think it’s necessary,” Wali said. In a communiqué read by Wali at the end of its Annual General Conference in Calabar, Cross River State, NBA, however, said the Constitution, as it currently operates, does not truly reflect the people’s yearnings and aspirations. It added that ordinary amendments to its provisions may not necessarily cure the fundamental flaws in it. “There is, therefore, a dire need for a people-oriented Constitution which will be subjected to a national referendum and will be self-enforcing,” NBA said.
The association called for the enactment of a law to regulate the granting of amnesty to repentant criminals. It said such important government policy should not be executed at the discretion of the President or the executive alone. “It is high time to legislate and enact laws on amnesty in Nigeria with a view to regulating its application,” NBA said. The NBA condemned the deplorable security situation in the country and “challenged” the Federal Government to review the strategy for fighting the menace of kidnapping and other forms of criminality. “The Bar condemns the seeming involvement of security officers in the payment of ransom for kidnapping and views this as aiding and abetting kidnapping,” NBA said, adding that payment of ransom by even the government can only serve as motivation and encouragement to kidnappers.
This was as NBA urged security agencies to rescue its member, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), who was kidnapped last week Friday, sympathising with the police authorities and families of four policemen said to have been killed during Ozekhome’s kidnap. The Bar identified corruption and unemployment as the factors leading to the degenerating security situation and urged the government at all levels to design workable policies to tackle the problem. NBA said to prevent the judiciary’s independence from being eroded, it should be well-funded, modern facilities should be provided in courts and corrupt judges must be sanctioned by the National Judicial Council.
The association criticised the government’s economic policies, saying past reforms exacerbated the citizens’ economic condition. “The Federal Government should, as a deliberate and practicable policy, ensure that all economic reforms should be people-focused and oriented. “In its implementation of economic and social reforms, institutions should be structured and enhanced in order to achieve overall good for the people. “Governance should not be appraised in terms of the infrastructural development that is visible, but should be defined in terms of real human development indices. “Governance should focus on technical problems of political legitimacy, administrative and legal capacity and the improvement of public sector management, the legal framework for development, accountability through better auditing, decentralisation, the policing of corruption, civil service reform, and improved information on policy issues for both decision-makers and the public,” NBA said