From GODWIN TSA, Abuja
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has distanced itself from the eight-member presidential panel set up to advise government on the Bakassi reclaim exercise neither was it consulted to examine the case before a decision was taken on the matter.
Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke (SAN), had announced that the clamour by Nigerians, particularly, the Bakassi indigenes, to appeal against the judgment of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which ceded the oil-rich Peninsula to Cameroon in 2002, was not in the best interest of the country.
According to the minister, the eight-member presidential panel set up to advise government on the Bakassi reclaim exercise examined the case with regard to requirements of Article 61 of the ICJ Statute and observed from the oral presentations made to it by supporters of the review of the ICJ judgment that such presentations would not meet the strict requirements of Article 61.
He spoke further: “This is because their presentation was unable to show that Nigeria has discovered a decisive fact that was unknown to her before the ICJ judgment, which is capable of swaying the court to decide in its favour. This is more so as most of the issues canvassed for in support of the case for a revision of the ICJ judgment had been canvassed for and pronounced upon by the ICJ in its 2002 judgment.”
But reacting to the development yesterday, President of the NBA, Okey Wali (SAN), disclosed that his association was sidelined by the Federal Government. So, it was not in a position to evaluate the quality of the fresh evidence that was produced for the purpose of appealing against the judgment.
The NBA president, who spoke at the inauguration of the NBA Working Group on Strategic Planning, said: “NBA was not part of the Presidential Committee on the matter. So, we are unable to tell what quality of fresh evidence that was produced by Nigeria for the purpose of reviewing the judgment of the ICJ.”
“So, whatever decision the Federal Government has taken on the matter, we are not in a position to say otherwise because we are not ceased of the facts and were not part of the presidential committee set up to examine the fresh evidence.”
Moreover, the body of lawyers condemned in strong terms, the alarming rate of insecurity in the country, especially the recent killings of over 40 students of the Adamawa State Polytechnic, Mubi, and the barbaric murder of four university students in Rivers State.
While calling for the arrest and prosecution of perpetrators of the dastardly acts and their collaborators, the association reiterated its call for the establishment of state police, holding that the present system of policing had failed.
On the surging national flood disaster, the NBA called on government at all levels and private organisations to join hands in providing relief for Nigerians, who have become internally displaced due to the menace.
The NBA, on its part, said it had issued an emergency alert to all of its 100 branches and over 70,000 active members to render critical assistance as may be desired to all victims of the flood disaster.