7 October 2012

Nigeria: Between Abia Govt and NBA Aba Branch


I watched with utter disbelief and dismay the recent stage-managed and show of shame called protest by some of our colleagues under the guise of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Aba Branch in Aba over the state of roads in the commercial city.

Though it did not come to many of us who were aware of the plot ahead of its execution as a great surprise, because we knew that it was a well-hatched plot by some failed politicians in the state led by a former governor of the state who used some of our colleagues to execute it in a bid to settle political scores with the state government.

It could be recall that throughout the administration of Governor Theodore Orji's predecessor in the state, NBA Aba Branch was almost an appendage of the state government for what the leadership then was selfishly benefitting from the government. This was despite the high level of misgovernance and total neglect of basic infrastructures in the state especially in Aba.

The only thing we witnessed in the city then was the introduction of the Bakassi Boys as security men by the state government. The group the government later turned to political thugs to deal with perceived political enemies of the state government. The group extra-judicially wasted lives of many innocent citizens in the state and many prominent Abia people were chased out of the State for years. It took the intervention of the Federal Government to checkmate and disband them, but none of them was made to face the wrath of the law, not even the lawyers in Aba.

When Orji assumed office in 2007 as the governor of the State, the NBA Aba Branch leadership was nowhere to be found, even when Governor Orji's government was clearly hijacked and held ransom by the duo of his predecessor and his mother at the detriment of the people of the state. The state of infrastructures in the state was in a shambles.

But since Orji succeeded in liberating himself and the state treasury from the clutches of the godfather and his mother, the leadership of NBA Aba branch has become a torn on his flesh and that of his government, and has never seen anything good in his government.

This is despite all his government has done in the judiciary sector by providing basic amenities like houses, offices and other basic things for easy dispensation of justice in the state. The Branch leadership made itself handy as a pawn in the cheeseboard of Orji's political enemies, especially his predecessor to cause confusion in the state.

It could be recalled that before the recent protest, the leadership of the Branch has dragged the state government to court over the appointment of Chief Judge of the State. This is even when they are in a position to know more than any other person the constitutional provisions for the appointment of both acting and substantive State Chief Judge, which Governor Orji has not violated any by his actions so far.

Constitutionally, it is not the duty of the leadership of NBA to decide who should be appointed the Chief Judge of the State. They have no business in the appointment of members of the Bench. Doing so under any guise as being done by the leadership of NBA Aba Branch smacks of suspicion and ulterior motives.

What should be of utmost concern to the leadership of the Bar and every other Nigerian should be the speedy and just dispensation of justice, and not the appointment of judges. But in Abia state today, due to ulterior motives and peculiar interest, the leadership of (NBA) Aba Branch has made itself a stumbling block in the appointment of the State Chief Judge.

It is obvious to Nigerians that since Justice Ayo Salami was suspended from office as the President of Court of Appeal, his successor, Justice Dalhatu Adamu has been functioning in acting capacity and nobody including the leadership of NBA National has dragged the Federal government to court over the appointment or non-appointment of a substantive President of Court of Appeal. This is because the action of the government is not unconstitutional. So what does Aba Branch of NBA want from the Abia State government?

Since the state government announced plan to demolish 18000 houses that were built on drainage channels in the city in order to pave way for easy flooding, owners of the marked buildings have been meeting with some opposition politicians in the state and the leadership of the NBA in the city to perfect strategies on how to use frivolous court injunctions to frustrate government's plan in that direction. Apart from this, they are also working with some acclaimed civil society organisations to thwart government's plans.

Not holding brief for the state government, I have been in Aba for almost two decades now, I know the infrastructural challenges in the city and the efforts of successive governments in tackling them. I can say with every sense of modesty and sincerity that the present government in the state has tried more than any other one before it in tackling the problems.

Apart from the reconstruction and beautification of some of the roads and opening of drainage channels, the state government had since the beginning of the rainy season deployed the Abia State Road Maintenance Agency (ASRMA) to the city to be providing temporal repair measures on some roads pending when the rainy season will stop and contractors handling works in the city return to sites.

Gladys Nwajioku (KSJ), a legal practitioner wrote in from Aba.

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