Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, has said it will not support any fight against corruption in the country that is selective and intended to witch-hunt political opponents.
Outgoing President of NBA, Augustine Sleigh, SAN, made the declaration while speaking at the opening ceremony of the Nigeria Bar Association, in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, yesterday.
The outgoing NBA President, who stated that the conference theme: “Democracy and Economic Development”, was carefully selected to deliberate on the current economic situation of the country, said, it would be a time to examine whether the Change mantra had moved the country forward or not.
He said: “As a group, as a body and as lawyers, we restate our commitment to zero tolerance to corruption in Nigeria. At the risk of sounding out loud, the war against corruption can be fought, most be fought and be won within the ambits of the law.
“Also, we want to state that any attempt to fight corruption through the back door amounts to corruption also. The NBA will provide free legal services in the fight against corruption.
“If the fight against corruption is personal, if the fight against corruption is political or if the fight against corruption is to collect one man’s property and hand it over to another man, we are not part of it.”
Sleigh, SAN, who described the conflicting judgments of the federal high courts in Port Harcourt and Abuja that bedevilled the National Convention of the People’s Democratic Party, as a show of shame, called on the National Judicial Council, NJC, and the President of the Federal High Court to wade into the matter.
“The NBA is highly embarrassed and scandalized by the state of conflicting judgements from Judges of the Federal High Court. We urge the National Judicial Council (NJC) and Chief Judge of the Federal High Court. It is a shame and embarrassment to the legal profession,” he stated.
He described the system used for the NBA election recently as the best ever in Nigeria. According to him, 5442 voters participated, pointing out that it saved cost totalling about N540million. He called on those without computer knowledge to learn in order to meet with the present world.
On his part, Rivers State Governor, Barr Nyesom Wike, thanked the NBA for bringing the conference to Port Harcourt and assured of a fruitful gathering. He said never in a history has a state been so attractive to so much conferences.
He said the conferences are illuminating evidence of the price existing in Rivers State, pointing out that the state will continue to host as many conferences as possible.
Wike, who is also the Chairman, Local Organising Committee, LOC, said the theme is thought-provoking. He decried that lack of democratic values and the infiltration of politicians into the political system has negatively affected the Nigeria’s democratic development.
He said Rivers State is the only state in the country without a senator in the state due to inability of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to conduct election in Rivers State. Wike wondered how INEC could conduct elections in the volatile North eastern part of the country and have not been able to conclude elections in the state. “What obnoxious behaviour can be more than this?, he said.