Posted by News Express | 6 September 2020 | 1,164 times
A Lagos-base legal practitioner, Chuks Nnalugha, has described the formation of New Nigeria Bar Association (NNBA), as clear evidence that Nigerians are tired of the country as it is presently structured.
Speaking during an interview, Nnalugha, who is the Legal Adviser of Anambra State Indigenes Lawyers Forum (ASILF), said the division in the Nigeria Bar Association is the beginning of institutional restructuring, which would eventually lead to total restricting of the country.
In this interview, he also spoke on the controversial Companies And Allied Matters Act (CAMA), which was signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari as well as the battle of words between the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Senator Chris Ngige and the Anambra State business mogul Chief Arthur Eze. Excerpts:
How do you see the division in the Nigeria Bar Association?
Barr. Nnalugha: Well, on the surface, the division is as a result of the Nigeria Bar Association denying audience to the Governor of Kaduna State, Malam El-Rufai, over his attitude towards court orders and judgments. By taking such action, NBA was simply being frank in its modus operandi when they refused him audience because you cannot be treating court orders and judgments with disdain and come to preach at a legal forum. That would have been a mockery that NBA would have found itself in the last conference but God was so kind that they applied wisdom by refusing him audience. However, if you look deep down it seems it is not the refusal of El-Rufai that prompted the request for the separation. This is because El-Rufai is not the only person that has been refused audience by NBA. Somebody like Prof. Maurice Iwu was once denied audience because of the way he handled election, but lawyers from the eastern part of the country did not jump to the street, so why now.
The answer may not be far-fetched, which is that the country is hungry for restructuring in every aspect of its existence. I will advise my colleagues in the NBA executive not to take it as an attempt to be-little the Nigeria Bar Association, rather they should see it as a stepping stone towards a better restructuring of Nigeria.”
Why do you say that?
We cannot be talking about restructuring and at the same time be sitting tight on our institutions which are lopsided. By the time the institutions restructure itself, it will now be so easy and so obvious on the body polity for Nigeria to restructure itself without violence. It will evolve on its own. I am not a pessimist. I believe that the only thing that is consistent is change and once there is life, there must be political process and once there is political process there must be change. So, I see the members of the NBA not to see the attempt by northern lawyers as an attempt to rubbish the integrity of the association. The integrity of NBA is still intact and that is why we elected a pragmatic leader .What happened is political restructuring that is in the offing. That it wants to start with NBA is just a state of nature. So, I want to say that lovers of restructuring of Nigeria should allow them to go ahead with the division.
How do you see the controversy over the CAMA Act?
It is a law that I know would be seriously challenged. If churches are registered under CAMA, they become legal entity. So, it borders on the ridiculous for the same law that has given them status of corporate personality to now confer discretion on the same CAMA to impose a general overseer on the church. It is a law that will not work. So, I advise they should go to court and contest it.
What is your view about the suspension of 12 traditional rulers from Anambra State by Gov Obiano?
By protocol, the traditional rulers are under the state government. It is a known fact that before they should embark on such visit which would also carry the image of the state, the state government must be aware and having defaulted, they have breached official protocol and the state Governor who is in charge of the state has the right to punish or caution them and having punished them, I think the state governor is on the right track. However, one may be tempted to say that the state governor was mild in his punishment .This is because some state governors would have dethroned them instead of suspending them.
But how do you see the position of Chris Ngige on the issue?
Well, a lot of people have been condemning Senator Chris Ngige’s position because he said that the Governor was too mild on the erring traditional rulers. Ngige was of the view, if I am not mistaken, that they would have been banished. I did not blame him for his view. He was once the Chief Executive Officer of Anambra State, so, he knows how painful it is when traditional rulers who are under the state government and receive their staff of office from the state government decides to slight the government .If it is some states in the northern part of the country, they would have been dethroned and banished with immediate effect.
What about Arthur Eze?
The role of Chief Arthur Eze in the whole saga, as far as I am concerned, is that of a businessman who capitalises on every opportunity to his own advantage. I will not blame Arthur Eze because I know that he was targeting something and he knew that he would need people with clout to get what he wants. The people to be blamed are the royal fathers who were supposed to advise Arthur Eze, rather they allowed themselves to be used. Another issue is that some people are of the view that the suspension could cause disquiet in Anambra State but I don’t think so. The suspended traditional rulers are in the minority so, their suspension is just like a minor issue and any person who is against the suspension is contesting the superiority of the state government.
Lastly, how do you see the recent hike in fuel price?
It is very sad that while most Nigerian families are battling to come out of the lock down which has seriously affected their means of livelihood, federal government is compounding their suffering by hiking the fuel price. Petrol is one thing that connects and controls the life of all Nigerians because a farmer needs to transport his products to the market, companies need fuel to power their machines and workers need to transport themselves to work. Therefore, any increase in the price of petrol affects the life of every Nigerian. The embarrassing and mockery aspect of it is that this is a commodity that we have here in Nigeria. But due to political incompetence and administrative fraud, we have not been able to make our refineries to work, Sometimes, I wonder how much it would take to repair these refineries and for how long? The reason is because since the emergence of the current democratic dispensation in 1999, we have not been able to get our refineries to work. But we have heard that a lot of Nigerians have refineries abroad where government takes our crude oil to refine. So, the question is what magic did they do there that we cannot do here? We have also heard of illegal refineries in the Niger Delta. If federal government cannot repair our refineries and cannot build new ones, they should harness the illegal ones for the betterment of Nigerians. One would also be tempted to ask, was it not the same refineries that Biafrans constructed during the civil war and was using it to refine petrol throughout the war. So, what is happening in Nigeria now with regard to petrol is very embarrassing.
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