President Muhammadu Buhari had, while declaring the 58th Annual General Conference of the association open, said national security and national interest were superior to the rule of law.
But the NBA, in a communique made available to newsmen on Friday at the end of the conference, stated that the rule of law was central to a democracy and as such, any national security concerns by the Government must be managed within the scope of the rule of law.
The NBA which also acknowledged the importance of a highly professional police force in a democratic dispensation, called on the Federal Government to adequately fund, equip and improve the welfare of officers and men of the Nigeria Police.
The communique reads in part: “Conference completely rejects the presidential statement subordinating the rule of law to national security. The NBA restates that the rule of law is central to a democracy and any national security concerns by the government must be managed within the perimeters and parameters of the rule of law.
“As a corollary, conference frowns at the present growing trend whereby government decides on which court orders to obey. The court has exclusive duty under a democratic dispensation to interpret the constitution and other laws and government and the citizenry must comply with court orders at all times until set aside.
“Conference emphatically objects to the issuance of Executive Orders in respect to matters already in court and observes that any such order is a breach of the principle of separation of powers; and counsels that Executive Orders be issued for good governance and to manage operations of government and not to encroach or usurp upon the constitutional powers of other arms of government, lest Executive Orders become attempts at decree-making.
“Conference resolved that our democracy can be better strengthened by an independent judiciary and consequently calls for a budgetary arrangement that allows for funds to be directly allocated to the judiciary at federal and state levels.
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“On the part of the judiciary, conference welcomed the ongoing reforms in the Justice Sector especially as it pertains to technological innovations that will improve access to justice by the citizenry.
“Conference acknowledges that strength of character is required for the building of strong institutions. In this regard, the NBA urges government and civil society to invest in the rebirth, through ethical, moral and value reorientation, of a new type of citizen.
“Conference calls for the institutionalisation of higher standards for transformational leadership and in this regard, calls for new laws to set higher standards of academic qualifications for political office holders in Nigeria.
“Conference advocates for structures that can aid good governance and, in this regard, calls on NBA members to use the already existing skills of advocacy and persuasion to encourage citizens to vote for competent leaders. Candidates must accept election outcomes rather than encourage violent protests.
“Conference calls upon the executive and legislative arms to learn to practise mutual respect for their respective functions as a tool for building institutions and achieving sustainable development. In this regard, public interest must be enthroned as a central pivot of governance, and the current bickering must be reduced to the barest minimum.
“Conference recognises that a free and fair democratic process ushered in by smooth transition is the bedrock for sustainable development in every society. Government is therefore enjoined to ensure free and fair electoral processes so the outcome of elections reflects the wishes of the people.
“In this regard the NBA pledges to engage with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure that the electoral process lives up to the expectation of the people.
“Conference observed that partnerships between the electoral commission and the media must be encouraged and sustained because of the role of the media in institutionalising electoral integrity.
“For sustainable development in Nigeria, the courts are called upon to make positive and proactive judicial pronouncements on the implementation and interpretation of Chapter Two of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
“Conference reiterates its support for the war against corruption, but this war must be across aboard and not be selective. In this regard, the NBA will work with all law enforcement agencies with the common objective of promoting the Rule of Law, and therefore calls on its members to be vigilant and take necessary steps to prevent the molestation of legal practitioners when carrying out lawful duties.
“The NBA asserts that investigative institutions like the EFCC must remain impartial so as to engender confidence in their operations. This is particularly urgent as we enter into an election year.
“Finally, the NBA is committed to a united, indivisible and prosperous Nigeria where no man is oppressed.”
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