I firmly believe that any person or organization has the rights to do whatever they deem fit as guaranteed by our constitution as well as democracy. That said, it should never be a license for the abuse of the sensibility of the nation and its citizenry.
Since time immemorial all human organizations have one agenda after the other. Some are more interested in addressing financial abuse, educational, environmental cause, health care, oil and gas, accountable governance, and some fundamental human rights. Since its inception, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) is one of the formidable and vocal pressure groups in the country. It has stood up to various military regimes, as well as democratic abuses and excesses since 1999. But it stands on certain issues as well as the positions of some of its former and or current leaders put a big question mark on the neck of the NBA which can only be addressed by a detailed forensic study of its history.
The NBA joined forces in the country voicing its dismay with the President Muhammadu Buhari administration on the controversial tenure extension of the Inspector General of Police (IGP). PMB decided to extend the tenure of the current IGP after serving the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) for 35 years. As required by the law. The IGP must resign from the NPF after 35 years. But as said, PMB decided either to be lonely or with the help of his legal advisers (if he has any) to extend the IGP tenure by three months. This issue of tenure extension is not my concern (that is for the legal experts to dwell on). My concern is the court case the NBA filed against the Federal Government of Nigeria as well as PMB.
One important question that this NBA action raised was where does the NBA stand? Is the NBA only concerned with the appointment of the IGP? Why is the appointment of the IGP more important than all other appointments that PMB extended the tenure of the holders irrespective of the law stating otherwise? Is the NBA telling us they are more concerned about the IGP tenure because they are working hands in glove with the NPF or what? Finally, are the bounties or dividends in the NPF more important to the NBA than say the Nigeria Army, Nigeria Airforce, or Nigeria Navy?
When the tenure of service chiefs was extended by the same PMB under the same circumstances as the IGP, the NBA refused to go to courts, rather, it was mute! Nothing from the NBA. Thus, is the NBA telling us at this critical moment of our history, the tenure of the IGP is more important than that of the service chiefs, particularly when the tenure of the service chiefs was extended? The outcry against the extension of the tenure of service chiefs was louder than the IGP, but the NBA chose to keep mute. This signifies that the NBA has a different and or hiding agenda that is in the opposite of the entire Nigerians and the Nigerian state in general.
It is too unfortunate for our country that a reputable organization like the NBA descended this low today! Looking at this action by the NBA as well as the recent action of one of its past leaders it is too disturbing to where our beloved country is headed to. This clearly tells us why there is too much agitation among members of the NBA for the creation of another organization out of it based on tribal, regional and or religious lines (despite the dangers that portend for our country. This kind of actions and or inactions by the NBA birthed the said agitation).
It is high time for NBA members to fight for the restoration of their organization’s dignity and pride. This has to be done on moral and ethical grounds. Anything short of this will further expose NBA and its members to their shenanigans in the public. It is still in our memory and court cases filed by the current administration against some senior lawyers of corruption and subverting of justice either in favor of their clients or against the other party in their cases.
For the NBA being part and parcel of the judiciary, it must stand up for dignity, ethics, and morality, etc. There is still time for that, and it is better late than never.
Mustapha Maikudi Abdullahi