INTRODUCTION:

The Quarterly Meeting of the President-in-Council, a body comprised of the National Executive Officers and the Chairmen and Secretaries of all the 46 branches and Heads and Secretaries of the Directorates of CLASFON held from the 12th to 14th March 2020 to deliberate on issues concerning the Nation and CLASFON.

OVERVIEW:

The 2-day meeting had in attendance the national officers and the representatives of the branches. The National President presided over the meeting as well as technical sessions. During the technical sessions, participants extolled the manifestation of a new zeal to actualize the vision of CLASFON which is to see ‘A New Legal Profession Anchored on Christ’.

ISSUES:

The meeting deliberated, among others, on the following issues:

  • The general state of insecurity and persecution of Christians
  • FGN Policy on Repentant terrorists
  • The consistent interference with the Judiciary by the members of the Executive;
  • Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Kajuru crisis;
  • The Social Media Bill;
  • Immunity for National Assembly Presiding Officers;
  • The brutal use of force by uniformed persons against civilians;
  • Global Pandemic due to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

COMMENTS AND RESOLUTIONS:

The recommendations and conclusions arising from the issues are as follows-

CLASFON is saddened at the continuous persecution of Christians in Nigeria and the downward slide in the state of insecurity. We note with sadness the cold murder of Rev. Lawan Indimi, Ropvil Dayep and 9 other Christians by ISWAP as revenge for the killing of their Abu Bakr al Baghdadi and continued attacks on predominantly Christians communities and Churches especially in Chibok, Minchika and other places.

CLASFON commends the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed for openly admitting that terrorists were targeting Christians which underscores the need for more proactive steps to protect Christian communities. The pattern of repeated lamentations over continued killings in Nigeria must stop. We call on the Federal Government to review the current security apparatus in order to defeat the terrorist and so that they can face the full wrath of the law for their despicable crimes.

CLASFON notes with dismay various acts of kidnappings, abduction for ransom with pastors and missionaries as primary targets, cult-related killings, attack on vulnerable communities by terrorists, bandits and herdsmen across many States in Nigeria despite huge resources deployed by Federal Government to curb insecurity.

CLASFON calls again on the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria even more loudly, to take more seriously the responsibility of the protection of the lives and properties of all residents of Nigeria as provided by the Constitution and other relevant laws, leaving no stone unturned to secure the release Leah Sharibu and many others in the custody and captivity of insurgents and bandits.

CLASFON observes with grave concern the Federal Government policy on rehabilitation of the so-called repented Boko Haram terrorists while paying less attention to the plight of victims.

We call on the Federal Government to resist the temptation of promoting the culture of impunity and lawlessness by ensuring that those who have committed heinous murderous acts against citizens on a wide scale are made to face the full wrath of the law. Anything short of this is unacceptable as it shows that terrorism against the State pays and unwittingly make a mockery of the effort of the Armed Forces in the fight against terrorism. The morale of our Soldiers fighting terrorism and justice for the victims must not be compromised.

We call on the Federal Government jettison this policy and to urgently direct that more attention to giving help to the victims of insurgency and how to ameliorate the hardship and trauma faced by them.

CLASFON observes with dismay political interference by the Executive arm in the affairs of the Judiciary. The confusion orchestrated by the appointment of Acting Chief Judges in Gombe and Cross Rivers State is a case in point. CLASFON is concerned that the current Acting Chief Judges gender, ethnic and religious sentiments have been brought to bear in the appointments instead of the established convention of seniority and competence. The action of the Governors of Gombe and Cross Rivers State is capable of interfering with the smooth administration of justice in both State.

CLASFON calls on the National Judicial Council to stamp its authority by ensuring that established convention in the appointment of Chief Judge of a State is not abused thereby compromising judicial independence in those States. We call on the Governors of Gombe and Cross River to respond to the public outcry that has greeted the current appointments of Acting Chief Judges in both States by following the already laid down convention of the NJC in order to correct the negative perception of interference with the independence of the judiciary in their States.

CLASFON commends the Kaduna State Government for setting up a Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Kajuru killings that resulted in the loss of many innocent lives and destruction of property.

We note the terms of reference of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry and hope that as the truth is discovered, the Kaduna State Government will not follow the usual tradition of consigning the report to the archives and the dustbin of history but take appropriate steps to ensure justice for the people of Adara Chiefdom while punishing the culprits responsible for the mayhem in order to avert future occurrence.

CLASFON expresses her objection to the Social Media Bill currently being processed by the National Assembly. We consider the proposed Bill as an attempt to gag the freedom of speech which is a recognised fundamental right necessary to sustain our democracy.

CLASFON calls on the National Assembly to hearken to the voice of reason and the cry of well-meaning and concerned Nigerians by deactivating the proposed Bill forthwith.

CLASFON also observes with concern the Bill seeking to confer immunity on Presiding Officers of the National Assembly against the backdrop that membership of the National assembly is not limited by a tenured term.

We call on the National Assembly to retrace its steps back from this slippery slope. We urge them to borrow a leaf from contemporary trends on immunity from other climes where leaders even give up their immunity by subjecting themselves to the rule of law.

CLASFON observes with dismay the widespread abuse of the rights of citizens by resort to the wanton use of brutal force by uniformed persons in furtherance of their course. These ugly incidences have now become a recurrent decimal in recent times. We condemn in totality any form of violence and brutalisation of Lawyers.

We urge the Chief of Army Staff and the Inspector General of Police to take urgent steps to halt to curb this ugly trend and to heed the call for reforms in the training of their personnel on how they relate with civilians.

CLASFON notes with grave concern the evolving trend globally with regards to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We implore government at all levels to take proactive measures to contain the spread of the virus, and towards saving the lives of those already infected.

We call on all Nigerians not to panic but trust God and be prayerful while we all cooperate with the Government to ensure safety for all our citizens.

 

AROME OKWORI                                                              OLATUNJI OMOLE

NATIONAL PRESIDENT                                                   NATIONAL SECRETARY