COMMUNIQUÉ ISSUED AT THE VIRTUAL PRESIDENT-IN-COUNCIL MEETING OF THE CHRISTIAN LAWYERS FELLOWSHIP OF NIGERIA (CLASFON) HELD VIDE ZOOM FROM THE 20TH TO 22ND NOVEMBER 2020
The Quarterly Meeting of the President-in-Council, a body comprised of the National Executive Officers and the Chairmen and Secretaries of all the 50 branches and Heads and Secretaries of the Directorates of CLASFON held from the 20th to 22nd November, 2020 to deliberate on issues concerning the Nation and CLASFON.
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’.
The meeting deliberated, among others, on the following issues:
- The consistent interference with the Judiciary by the members of the Executive;
- The general state of insecurity nationwide;
- #ENDSARS Protest;
- Protracted ASUU Strike.
Comments and Resolutions:
A. STATE OF THE JUDICIARY
- CLASFON after much deliberations on the state of the Judiciary nationwide commends President Muhammadu Buhari for nominating eight new Supreme Court Justices to the Senate for appointment after a prolonged initial foot-dragging. It is our hope that the appointment and swearing-in of the Justices will translate to a speedy dispensation of justice at the apex court of the land and clearing of the huge backlog of pending cases.
- CLASFON, however, deprecates the undue political interference in the appointment of Chief Judges of States especially in Cross River as it affects the appointment of Justice Akon Ikpeme and in Gombe State on the appointment of Justice Beatrice Iliya, who though eminently qualified and as most senior Judges in both States have both been sadly sidelined on either ethnic, gender or religious grounds. CLASFON commends the stance of the National Judicial Council on both cases and hopes the right things will be done in the end.
- CLASFON also observes the delay in the assignment of cases and fixing of dates for cases filed in our various courts nationwide, its negative effect on cases and the erosion of public confidence in the judicial system.
B. NATIONWIDE STATE OF INSECURITY
- CLASFON is alarmed by the state of widespread insecurity in the land with daily reports of killings and incessant kidnapping by bandits and terrorists. The nation is plunging into a state of complete anarchy with the recent reports of kidnapping of Police Officers and other security personnel for ransom, the recent killing of the APC chairman of Nasarawa State in Lafia and kidnapping of Pastor Polycarp Zongo of the COCIN Church on his way from Jos, Plateau State to Gombe in Gombe State.
- CLASFON notes with sadness that in the face of this monumental collapse of security and a near-total breakdown of law and order in Nigeria, this present administration headed by President Muhammadu Buhari has not deemed it necessary to change the Service Chiefs and to overhaul the entire security architecture of the country.
C. END SARS PROTESTS
CLASFON commends the Federal Government for directing the establishment of various Judicial Commissions of Inquiry to investigate allegations of human rights abuses by the disbanded SARS Police Units and notes with sadness the attempt to freeze the accounts of alleged END SARS sponsors.
- CLASFON condemns the wanton destruction of public and private properties by hoodlums who took advantage of the #ENDSARS protests and condoles with those who lost their loved ones, properties and their means of livelihood.
D. PROTRACTED ASUU STRIKE
CLASFON is deeply concerned that after over eight months of closure, the universities and other public tertiary institutions in the country are still closed down with an army of anxious and agitated youth at home and roaming the streets due to the industrial action embarked upon by ASUU. The prolonged industrial action if not urgently brought to an end will have devasting effect on the career prospects of many young Nigerians as well the social and economic development plans of the Federal Government.
The recommendations and conclusions arising from the issues are as follows-
A. ON THE JUDICIARY
- The intriguing and embarrassing circumstances surrounding the appointment of the Chief Judges of Cross Rivers and Gombe States have brought to the fore the urgent need to evolve beyond tribal, religious or gender sentiments and to focus on factors bordering on merit, efficiency and equitable considerations. We, therefore, call on both State Governors to heed the voice of reason and to do what is right in order to secure the independence of the Judiciary in their States.
- CLASFON calls upon the National Judicial Council to be more assertive in defending the spirit and letters of the Constitution.
- We call upon the concerned Judicial authorities to take urgent steps to remedy the delays in the judicial system and to put in place a workable system to ensure speedy dispensation of justice in the judicial system.
B. ON NATIONWIDE STATE OF INSECURITY
We urge the Federal and State Governments to take urgent steps to secure the release of Pastor Polycarp Zongo and other citizens in the hands of terrorists, bandits and other criminal elements and to put concrete measures in place to secure the safety of lives and properties of all citizens.
D. END SARS PROTEST
CLASFON calls upon the Federal Government to urgently de-escalate tension by unfreezing the bank accounts of the perceived sponsors of the youths protests and create a more conducive environment for victims to come out freely to ventilate their grievances before the various Judicial Panels across the States.
D. PROTRACTED ASUU STRIKE
We call upon the Federal Government to urgently conclude talks with ASUU leaders and resolve all pending issues forthwith so as to bring an end to the frustration of these young Nigerians and the generality of the citizenry especially parents.
AROME OKWORI OLATUNJI OMOLE
NATIONAL PRESIDENT NATIONAL SECRETARY