Lawyers role in Africa’s integration, by Tambuwal
*AFBA supports fight against corruption, impunity
African lawyers have ben implored to ensure that its people are brought together to ensure continental integration, unity and rapid development.
Governor Aminu Tambuwal made the call when he received members of the African Bar Association (AFBA) who were in Sokoto for their executive committee meeting.
On its part, AFBA stated its support for the current fight against corruption and impunity in Nigeria.
Its president, Hannibal Uwaifo, who spoke yesterday at a press conference in the Sokoto State capital after an executive council meeting of the association, said that corruption and impunty have given western powers room to impose their will on African nations.
Tambuwal said one of the best ways for the continent to reap the benefits of globalisation was collaboration by member states which would further unite its people.
His words: “I urge you to use the platform of the African Bar Association to foster unity and integration in Africa, promote good governance and sustenance of human rights of our citizens.
“Africans can gain a lot if they trade and interact closely among themselves. As a people, we should try to be more of our brothers’ keepers, and work more closely now than ever before.
“This association has lofty ideals which if properly harnessed, will provide a roadmap for others to follow in the development of Africa.”
Uwaifo said AFBA had done a lot in the promotion of the rule of law and human rights and that the association would strive to ensure that Africa is free from hunger and disease, using the instrumentality of the law.
According to him, western powers often assist unpopular leaders to remain in office for as long as they do their bidding.
He said that the association did not see anything wrong with the trial of lawyers because they were not above the law.
“Lawyers are not above the law. Lawyers and even Senior Advocates of Nigeria have been jailed before. There is nothing unusual about trying lawyers but we insist that it must be done in accordance with the law. The same thing with the judiciary”.
He, however, explained that given the sensitive nature of the judiciary, common sense dictates that it should be handled with care so that it would not explode.
The AFBA president stated that although only the executive arm of government makes election promises, the other two arms ought to key into what the executive is doing in addition to checking its excesses.
He lamented that because of the absence of a functional judiciary to key in and speedily dispense justice some cases of corruption were still pending from the Obasanjo administration.
He commended the Gambian President, Yahya Jammeh, for conceding defeat in the recent presidential election in his country as did former President Goodluck Jonathan in Nigeria last year.
He stated that as a pan-African association AFBA would commend every government in Africa that was doing well and condemn those not doing well.
He appealed to the federal government to release the association’s secretariat as the circumstances that led to its seizure were no longer prevailing.
He said: “ African governments must do more to harness the natural resources available on the continent, and should give agriculture the priority attention it deserves.
“ A lot has changed in Nigeria in the recent past.’’
Uwaifo said the executive committee was a prelude to its annual conference which would hold in Port Harcourt August 6-10 next year.